As a teenager, I had the unhealthy eating habits that only an all-girls private school can teach you. During the day, we'd compete to see who could eat the least and then I, for one, would go home and spend the whole evening eating in the privacy of my own home. By the time I left school at 18, I was verging on the overweight. In my first two years at university, I lost about 3 stone partly due to the afore mentioned break up which occupied most of my second year and partly because I replaced about two-thirds of my meals with wine in the time-honoured student tradition. I wasn't actually quite relieved when the weight started to creep back on in my third year as I was at the stage of looking pretty unhealthy but, since I graduated six years ago, it's continued to creep back on.
So, whilst I'm not going to go on a diet and I'm certainly not going to stop baking, I'm going to try and make (some) healthier choices. Enter these low-fat chocolate brownies.
I'll admit that I was sceptical. I don't tend to trust things that are badged as 'low fat' and I would much rather have a smaller amount of a full-fat treated than feel dissatisfied with a low-fat version. These brownies though, developed by Angela Nilsen for the BBC Good Food magazine, have had rave reviews and the comments on the recipe convinced me that I should give them a whirl. The secret ingredient which makes them low-fat is mayonnaise, used in place of the butter and most of the eggs. It is a bit of a leap of faith but trust me, these were undoubtedly some of the finest brownies that I've ever eaten and I can assure you I've eaten more than my fair share.
Low fat chocolate brownies (makes 12*)
From BBC Good Food
85g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
100g golden caster sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp buttermilk (I made mine with 2 tbsp regular milk and a squeeze of lemon juice)
1 egg, beaten
100g mayonnaise (the recipe suggests using Hellman's. I actually used Hellman's light with no ill effects but any fairly bland mayonnaise will do)
85g plain flour
25 cocoa powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1. Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Grease a 19cm square baking tin and line with non-stick paper.
2. In a large bowl, melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. When all the chocolate has melted, stir the sugar, coffee, vanilla, buttermilk and 1 tbsp warm water into the chocolate with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and the mayonnaise and combine until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda and sift this into your chocolate mixture. Fold until just combined but do not over mix.
4. Pour the mixture into your tin and spread it to the corners. Bake for 25-30 minutes. If you insert a skewer, it should come out with a few crumbs attached but no raw batter. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into 12 squares.
*The recipe suggests cutting the pan of brownies into 12 and the nutritional information on the website is based on this. I actually cut mine into 20 smaller pieces mainly because I have no spatial awareness and used a bigger tin so my final brownies were thinner.