I (Heart) You Valentine Brownies

by Anne Bennett on February 2, 2010

It took all of January for most of us to recover from the overabundance of holiday goodies, and in the meantime, Girl Scout Cookies made their yearly appearance. Luckily for me, no uniformed little girls came knocking. If they had, the good citizen in me would have been compelled to buy some Thin Mints, for my husband, of course.

Today is only the 2nd of February, and in the next two weeks we’ve got both Super Bowl Sunday (the biggest snacking day of the year in America, according to the big food folks) and that venerable chocoholic’s dream, Valentine’s Day.

The opportunities to overeat, and to justify it because “it’s a special day”,  just never end.

Instead of heading from one food disaster to the next, my motto is to try to enjoy every holiday without making any one celebration a reason to blow it. I know this borders on un-American, but I’m not going to make any dip for Super Bowl Sunday, low fat or otherwise. Dips provide too much temptation to endlessly dip, dip, dip and munch, munch, munch. Think about it, what exactly is a portion of dip? Do you really scoop out 1/4 cup and eat only that? I think not.

Instead, I’m going to cook something delicious and healthy that we can enjoy without feeling guilty after the game. Beer will be included on the menu. After all, it is a football game.

Fudgy yet low in fat, these are REAL brownies!

Fudgy yet low in fat, these are REAL brownies!

But let’s get to the real reason for this post–chocolate! Valentine’s Day is the next holiday, and here, from Cooks Illustrated again, is a low-fat brownie recipe that I’ve made twice with great results.  Real non-dieting men said that they couldn’t tell these brownies were low in fat, that’s how good they are. The secret is to not over-handle or over-bake them.

The original recipe doesn’t call for nuts, but to me it’s not a brownie without nuts, so I added whole pecans on top before they went into the oven. I think nuts are better when they go on top of a baked good; when they are chopped up and stirred into the dough, they tend to stew rather than roast.

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet chocolate chips)
2 T. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 T. low-far sour cream
1 T. chocolate syrup (I only had fat-free fudge sauce and that worked fine)
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
2 t. vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″ baking pan with foil so that it comes out over the edges on all four sides (you’ll need two long pieces of foil, folded to fit neatly into the pan) and press it down so that it’s smooth. Spray the foil with nonstick spray.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter together in a large bowl in the microwave, stirring often, until melted. Let cool slightly.

Whisk the sugar, sour cream, chocolate syrup, egg, egg white and vanilla into the chocolate/butter mixture. Fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions with a spatula, stirring only until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan against the counter to remove any bubbles. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Do NOT overbake.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, about 2 hours. Lift them out with the foil and cut into 2″ squares.

Makes 16 brownies

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Ethel February 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm

The brownies look yummy, can’t wait to make them for my sweetheart. You have such lovely dishes for your food presentations!!

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