Wednesday, September 17, 2008

About those brownies

I am about to let you know my favorite food secret, which I'm sure is not a secret at all, but I like to hoard things, and so I've been doing some hoarding of this particular fact: 

Nonfat plain Greek yogurt is made of magic. Specifically, it doesn't taste nonfat at all.

It just doesn't. It defies logic. It tastes rich and creamy (hate that word) and luscious and it's a nonfat miracle. And to add to its incredible greatness- perhaps it should be sainted, that wouldn't be a stretch for me - it also swaps all Even-Steven like for butter in baking.

WHAT? Nonfat yogurt can taste as good in a brownie or something baked as butter? LIAR YOU SAY!

No. It's true. Really now.

Those Greeks - they really know food. And beaches. And how to whitewash walls and write in a weird alphabet, but whatever. The important thing here, for my purposes now, is that nonfat Greek yogurt is really good however you want to have it. 

This time, I made brownies with the yogurt, instead of butter, and SWOONED my ass off.

Then I ate so many of these brownies that it totally negated the lower-fatness of them, but that's OK, this was a one time Love At First Sight kind of thing. Next time I will exercise restraint. Or maybe I just won't tell you when I eat the whole batch. We'll see.

Another fun surprise here was the fact that this recipe came from a weird unexpected place. Namely, Shape Magazine. And it wasn't just surprising because it was from a fitness magazine that usually only likes to remind its readers every.single.month that they need to drink 8 glasses of water a day and sleep for 8 hours a night and do everything in 8's including reps of bicep curls and washing of hands after potty. It was also surprising because I cancelled my subscription a while ago (I know about the water thing already, thanks) and it keeps showing up.

Whatever. At least there was a recipe in there.

Not surprisingly, my favorite feature of this mostly useless POS is the Recipe Makeover section where they take a fatty recipe (for example: brownies) and fix the recipe to make it more healthful by ripping all the good stuff out.

Now, usually this enrages me because I love butter and bacon and cheese and these are always the first things to go, but this time they swapped the butter with nonfat Greek yogurt and there wasn't any bacon or cheese to get rid of, so I decided to give them a go.

I mean, if a brownie can go from 17 grams of fat per to 5, I'm all about trying it out. If it tastes like crap, I can feel reaffirmed in my Butter Faith and if not, I can eat a brownie without the post-chewing remorse where I think about cutting myself. (Not really - don't email me about this)

Not Fatty Brownies
from Cocoa Brownies, Shape Magazine

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons espresso
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Make

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil; spray foil lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt,and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until combined. Add egg, egg whites, vanilla and coffee. Continue beating until incorporated.
  4. Scrape down sides of the bowl and reduce mixer speed to low. Slowly add flour mixture to the bowl, followed by yogurt, and mix gently until combined. The batter will be thick.
  5. Stir in chocolate
  6. With a spatula, spread mixture evenly in pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of pan comes out dry. Cool on a wire rack before removing from pan and slicing into 16 squares.
Recipe makes 16 2-inch by 2-inch servings.

Now, I know there is SOME butter in there, which I'm not 100% sure is necessary, so I'm considering going back for a remake. In this remake I will be replacing the butter with NFGY 1:1 and swapping out regular sugar for Splenda. 

I realize this may get gross and I'm willing to accept the consequences because JUST IMAGINE if it didn't taste like ass. That'd really be something. And then we could all stop hating brownies because they taste beautiful but make our rears look like barn doors. 


  1. FAGE NFGY from TJ's rocks, although I feel like an idiot whenever I try to tell people about it by name because I don't know how to say it and it ends up sounding like I'm bashing on same-sex-liking folk when I'm really not. It also makes a great sauce/soup thickener-upper.

  2. Finny, my dear....what the fuck is the point of running 11 miles if you're not going to reward yourself with full fat recipes? Now hurray for NFGY but, my dear, if I worked as hard as you I'd go full fat all the time because otherwise I'd have no motivation for going for a run.

    Yeah, I know, I'm a freak...

  3. I love Greek yogurt. But I've only ever had the full-fat kind (mixed with Grapenuts and homemade apricot jam--OH YUM).

    I make brownies so rarely (because I eat the whole pan myself) that I probably wouldn't bother substituting.

    You know how to cut your brownies all nice and neat, right? And if you don't, it's because you haven't been reading my blog religiously. SHAME.

  4. A few weeks ago I heard about making brownies with black beans. Like she took a can of black beans and substituted it for all the wet ingredients in a packaged brownie mix. I didn't have them personally, but my cousin swears they were awesome.

    I've been thinking of trying it with a non-disgusting mix, but I'm not sure where to start.

    Think of the fiber! Maybe we could even end up with brownies that were not just not bad for us, but actually good for us. And then we could have them for breakfast. And lunch. And snacktime. But not dinner, 'cause ewww.

  5. After reading yesterday's post in which you mention the brownies, I went all baking commando and willy-nilly substituted American nonfat french vanilla yogurt (Stony Farms)for butter in my favorite lemon loaf cake recipe. ZOINKS! The texture is a tad different (a little more boing-y) but it's overall fab! And, being a trained pastry chef, I usually BIG TIME eschew the replace-the-butter ideas. I mean, my mantra is Fat Means Flavor, for Christ's sake! But I saved 2 friggin sticks of fat and the resulting cake was delicious too, so maybe "yogurt means flavor" is my new saying (uh...NO. Oh well.)....

    Will try Greek next time because besides being waaaay more expensive, it IS waaaaay deliciouser.

  6. Forgot to say:

    BLACK BEANS IN BROWNIES??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Nothing is worth trying that. I'd rather eat a cardboard box to get my fiber.

  7. Those black bean brownies could be called Rootin' TOOTIN' brownies...get it? tootin browni...oh never mind!

  8. K. I just found these two links and had to come back here to share them... the first is a recipe for beets in brownies and the second is for beets in chocolate cake.

    How much do you really like beets, Finny?

  9. I asked for the running update and then got distracted and forgot to check back until today. And what do I find, but it is only 3 weeks to the race, which I was trying to ignore.

    And some awesome looking brownies.

    So with you on sleeping in on Saturdays after the race. Probably only get to 11 (tomorrow) before the race.

    Sorry I have to be Anonymous. Google mystifies me. No matter how many times I sign up or get a password, it never works.

  10. Please tell me the Splenda thing worked out. That would be HEAVEN!

  11. OOOOOOOOOOOOOO Yeah! I am going to try this! Thanks for sharing the secret, because I have never heard of this. I have tried applesauce instead of oil, but it never really does it for me.

  12. I LOVE me some greek yogurt. Can you believe the only place I can find it here (other than Whole Foods, which I try to steer clear of due to the fact I leave without any money) is WalMart. I make a special trip.

  13. Ok, so I tried this with almost all greek yogurt and sugar-sub and it didn't work for me at all. The problem is I don't know if the decreased amount of butter or the sugar-sub was the problem. I used 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons greek yogurt in place of the 4 tablespoons butter. (I wanted to replace all of the butter, but didn't have enough yogurt.) And we don't have Splenda here, but I used a sugar sub that seems the same to me (it's not nasty like the other sweeteners). The batter was so incredibly thick I couldn't even spread it. I ended up throwing the brownies away.

    I tried it again today just as written and my husband and I both enjoyed the results. I might try again with half sugar/half substitute and see where that gets me.


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