I work from home, which means I can keep my T.V. tuned into my favorite morning program, The Today Show, a couple of days a week. The Monday after Thanksgiving, the show’s nutrition expert, Joy Bauer, had a healthy baking recommendation for the holidays: replace all of the oil or butter in a recipe with applesauce or canned pumpkin.
To me, this sounded like terrible advice. It made me mad. Do we really need to sacrifice all of the flavor and texture that fat gives to our desserts to be healthy??
I’m usually all for making healthy replacements when baking. I replace half of the butter or oil with applesauce, almost always. But you need some fat so your cookies or cakes have some richness and decadence to them. Isn’t that why we eat sweets?
And anyway, eliminating all of the fat could make a dry baked product that forms a sticky, unpleasant lump when chewed that sucks out your mouth’s moisture. I also feared this advice, if followed, would return us to the Snackwell craze of the 90s. Remember those little chocolate chip cookies sold in the green boxes? They were fat-free and many of us (or me at least) ate handfuls at a time because of that.
But another part of me hoped I was wrong, that it is possible to make a delicious cookie or cake without most of the fat. She is the expert, I thought, and she’s giving this advice on national television. Maybe this could actually work.
I decided to make brownies using Bauer’s advice. I used this double chocolate brownie recipe, replacing all of the butter with applesauce and cutting the sugar by ¼, as Bauer suggested. I still added half a bag of chocolate chips to the brownie batter. I wasn’t willing to compromise here because it really isn’t worth making these brownies without chocolate chips.
When I first cut into the cooked brownies, they were cakey (as Bauer said they would be), dry, and just not good. I felt victorious, even sanctimonious. I was right!
But by my third brownie, this healthier dessert had begun to grow on me. Even with the dry texture, these brownies were chocolate and sweet and Kenny and I still ate the whole pan…in three days.
What does this mean for you?
If you don’t mind a cakey texture and are able to eat one brownie, and not several at a time like me, you might want to try applesauce or canned pumpkin in place of butter and oil in your recipes. See if you like the results, and, either way, let us know how they turned out.