Thursday, 5 January 2012

BBC Good Food: Guilt Free Brownies

Pre-baby I always had a savoury tooth.  My favourite ever lunch would be bread with lots of unsalted butter, cheese and crisps.  My foodie holiday heaven would've been France as we used to eat that pretty much every lunchtime on childhood holidays.  Sure I liked sweet things.  But given the choice between, savoury won every time.

So far, so normal. Chocolate, sugar, a touch of coffee
Even in the early months of pregnancy, I was convinced I was having a boy because I craved red meat (now know that's due to anaemia).  But the minute I had my scan, it was almost like the switch governing my sweet tooth was flicked to 'On - hyperdrive mode' and I found myself daydreaming about puddings, baking and chocolate.

And that's why I'm currently having daily arguments with myself over the need to lose weight vs the need to eat cake.  Yesterday, I fell in love with the idea of a chocolate and beetroot cake on Twitter.  I've been trying to disguise vegetables in various ways for the child (childless people, you have NO idea how stressful this is) and so I've been researching vegetable cakes.  This particular notion was flaunted in front of me by the lovely Lisa aka @HarbourHussy although I have a feeling I've also seen a post from Laura aka @Philosophobia on the subject of beetroot brownies *makes mental note to tweet Laura for the recipe*

Anyhow I just had to have some chocolate cake.  And thanks to the wind keeping me awake most of the night, I had plenty of time to do some research into low fat chocolate cake.  I remember reading somewhere about the idea of putting mayonnaise into brownies.  Sounds disgusting.  But a little Google revealed a recipe on the Good Food website that uses exactly this and it has a five star rating after 98 reviews.

I had all the ingredients in my cupboard - it doesn't use butter which is good as butter is banned at the moment - so it seemed worth a shot for the purposes of this blog.

In goes the mayo!
And I have to say that as disgusting as they sound, the 98 people are right.  The brownies are really quite light but still a bit fudgy.  I do like my brownies dense and fudgy and brimming with chocolate chunks or nuts, but to have brownies on a diet that I can potentially eat on a day when I don't run without starving myself, these are really good.

Of course, they'd be better with some additions or warmed with a scoop of ice cream on the side and some warm cherry compote on top, but you can't have everything if you are trying to shift some pounds.

I used Hellmans Light mayonnaise and despite an initial worry that it contained things like mustard, vinegar and paprika and that these would spoil the taste, you wouldn't know there was anything untoward in them at all.  I suppose at the end of the day, it's not much different to using eggs and oil in the recipe.  This now has me wondering if it's just a gimmick and if you could create a similar low fat brownie without the need for mayo?  Maybe some experimenting coming on.  Of course, I would hate anyone to think I'm intimating that Hellmans would get the BBC to promote their products...

As it was the first time, I stuck to the recipe, save for two things.  I only had a mix of half 50% plain chocolate and half milk.  If I made it again, I'd probably go for a full 60% or 70% flavour, but it was still very chocolatey - just a little too sweet for my liking.

The finished article. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
(Mug from LF Designs, designed by @JotStudios!)
I also had a panic about the lack of vanilla essence in my cupboard so ended up using a teaspoon of amaretto flavoured coffee syrup.  This added 20 calories (shock horror!) to the entire recipe.  I then realised I had a tub of vanilla bean paste in the fridge, but no matter.  The amaretto flavour came through really well and if you're trying to keep calories down, it's worth experimenting with other syrups for flavouring.  You could always drop a teaspoon of sugar to compensate.

By using light mayonnaise and cutting the brownies into 16 pieces rather than 20 pieces, they came out at just 110 cals each.  I personally think that the size was okay, but you could cut them bigger and it would still be a lower calorie treat than a regular brownie.  But will someone please tell the Good Food team that you cannot cut 12 squares from a cake that is square in the first place.  They will be rectangles.  Or if not, my junior school teachers failed me somewhat.

This is the recipe from the Good Food website, but if you're not dieting or want a real treat, I've also posted my own recipe below.  Incidentally, mine come in at just shy of 300 cals if you cut them into 16 or only 150 if you make tiny triangles (but who'd want to do that?)

Guilt Free Brownies

  • 85g dark chocolate , 70% cocoa solids, chopped into small pieces
  • 85g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • ½ tsp coffee granules
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 100g mayonnaise (I used Hellman's Light)

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Pour enough water into a small pan to one-third fill it. Bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Put the chopped chocolate into a large bowl that will fit snugly over the pan without touching the water. Sit the pan over the water (still off the heat) and leave the chocolate to melt slowly for a few mins, stirring occasionally until it has melted evenly. Remove the bowl from the pan, then let the chocolate cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly oil and base-line a 19cm square cake tin that is 5cm deep. Combine the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda. Using a wooden spoon, stir both the sugars into the cooled chocolate with the coffee, vanilla and buttermilk. Stir in 1 tbsp warm water. Break and beat in the egg, then stir in the mayonnaise just until smooth and glossy. Sift over the flour and cocoa mix, then gently fold in with a spatula without overmixing.
  3. Pour the mixture into the tin, then gently and evenly spread it into the corners. Bake for 30 mins. When a skewer is inserted into the middle, it should come out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If cooked too long, the mix will dry out; not long enough and it can sink. Leave in the tin until completely cold, then loosen the sides with a round-bladed knife. Turn out onto a board, peel off the lining paper and cut into 16 squares.

Rebecca's brownies

  • 185g 70% Dark Chocolate
  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 40g cocoa
  • 85g plain flour
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 275g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 100g chocolate chunks - mixture of dark, milk and white (I use the Cooks Ingredients ones from Waitrose)

  1. Preheat oven to 160c fan/180c/gas 4
  2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm (8") square cake tin (approx 3" deep) with baking parchment
  3. Melt the dark chocolate and butter gently until liquid.  Leave to cool to room temperature
  4. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, chop the white chocolate into small pieces. 
  5. Sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl
  6. Whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale and fluffy.  When the mixture is ready, the beaters should leave a trail on the top of the mix when you lift them up.  This takes anywhere from 4-10 mins depending on your mixer.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture using a gentle figure of eight motion.  Try to combine well without over-mixing.
  8. Sift the flour and cocoa (again) into the chocolate and egg mixture, and mix using a figure of eight motion.  
  9. Finally stir in the chocolate chunks until evenly distributed
  10. Pour into the pan and bake for 25 mins.  
  11. Bake for 25 mins then pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it's not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust. (I also double check the middle with a cocktail stick) Take out of the oven.
  12. Cool in the tin until completely cold, then cut into sixteen squares and demolish!!  


  1. What a good idea! Love the idea of using coffee syrups I have loads here to try out in brownies!

  2. They look really good in the photo, and very few calories. I might just give them a go!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...