Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate Fix

I had the most insane chocolate craving the other day and in jonesing for something rich and chocolatey I realized that I have yet to post a brownie recipe. This may not seem like a big deal to many of you but after pie, brownies are probably one of my favorite desserts. So of course my blog needs a brownie recipe. While the mixes serve a purpose and are often quite tasty (especially the Ghirardelli mixes) I prefer brownies made from scratch. Brownies were one of the first desserts I made from scratch when I was 12 years old. I used the basic recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook and it's still one of my faves, I promise to bake and post it sometime soon. But for this week's chocolate craving, I knew I didn't want just any brownie, it was actually a cheesecake brownie that would make me happy. I didn't have a specific recipe in mind but after the past few weeks of baking heavy German dishes, I'm now on a mission to find a happy medium with tasty comforting food that's made with better ingredients. Which is why I used cauliflower, whole wheat flour and olive oil in my Mac & Cheese. I want to make the foods I love and I want them to taste good without leaving me guilt-ridden. So I went to an old faithful Eating Well in search of a recipe. I am quite pleased with the one I found. Is it the healthiest brownie ever? No, but it's a step and tasty to boot.

Swirled Cheesecake Brownies

from Eating Well

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites or 4 teaspoons dried egg whites (see Ingredient note), reconstituted according to package directions
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup strong brewed (or prepared instant) coffee or black tea
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch brownie pan or baking pan with cooking spray.
2. To prepare topping: Place cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg, flour, yogurt and vanilla; beat until well blended.
3. To prepare brownie layer: Whisk whole-wheat flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place egg, egg whites and brown sugar in a large bowl and beat with the electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add oil, coffee (or tea) and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until well blended, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
4. Scrape about half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Slowly pour the topping evenly on top. Drop the remaining brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two batters to create a swirled effect.
5. Bake the brownies until the top is just firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Coat a knife with cooking spray and cut into 24 bars.

These brownies were fudgy and extremely satisfying. I cut them into the recommended 24 squares, but have to be honest I ate 3 the night I made them. I think if you cut 16-18 slightly bigger squares you'd be more satisfied with just one because they would be a bit bigger but not the equivalent of 3 squares! The coffee adds richness which lets you use less cocoa powder and I always feel better using whole wheat flour over white. Next time I may try to use my Sunsweet Lighter bake or apple sauce in place of the oil and either Splenda Baking Blend Brown Sugar or maybe even Agave Syrup to cut back on the sugar. Now either of those substitutions could ruin what is a pretty tasty brownie but when I try I'll let you know the results.

Oh and the boy's review was a thumbs up, which is impressive as he is not a fan of cream cheese in sweets. There was just enough for me and not too much for him. Talk about a lucky happy medium. Enjoy!

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