Wednesday, 27 May 2009

But, does it have to be so chewy?

I was struck yesterday by a sudden desire for baked goods and chocolate. (Really, what I wanted was an oreo. Except, when was the last time you had a single oreo?) So, I did some digging and I found a recipe through ediets for brownies made with splenda (I don't know if that link will work if you're not a registered member). Of course, I monkeyed around with the recipe because I can't leave well enough alone.

The recipe is meant to make twenty-four 200 calorie brownies and it suggests that you immediately freeze half of them. I think this plan has merit. Or, would do if these were anything I'd want to have to parcel out and enjoy for an extended period of time. Let's take a look at some of the changes I made and why they may have been a bad idea.

The recipe called for egg substitute. Now, I love eggs and don't particularly see the need for fake eggs. Also, I have real eggs in my house because I find an egg mixed with onions and some frozen spinach to be a great breakfast. I don't think any of my problems stemmed from the egg substitution. Then, it called for canola-based trans-fat free margarine. I only have the spray margarine and shortening and the real deal in my house, so I had to come up with something else (or use shortening.) I had an open jar of apple sauce that I'm trying to finish before it goes all furry and gross. I used that. This could have been my undoing. I didn't have baking chips in my house, so I left them out. (This is not entirely true. I do have white chocolate chips from well-played cupcake experiment. But, I didn't feel white chocolate fit in with the overall recipe.) The last thing that was different from the recipe was that my cocoa powder is the Hershey's Special Dark powder. Its cocoa powder, and therefore not a substitute, so I didn't think a thing about it.

The recipe itself was super easy. You mix the chocolate and the fat and then you fold in the splenda, eggs and flour. Piece of cake. Into the bowl, into the pan, and into the oven it went.

I had a moment of...cognitive dissonance when the brownies came out of the oven. My flat smelled like tasty, tasty brownies. But, the brownies looked like they had burnt to a crisp. It would seem that the Special Dark cocoa powder is not lying to you when it says its Special and Dark. It is hard to tell from this photo I took with my mobile, but you can see a contrast between the matte black brownies and my china.


Despite being In-Space-No-one-Can-Hear-You-Scream dark, they weren't overly chocolaty. In fact, they were only so-so chocolaty. This was a disappointment. In addition, they had the trying-too-hard chemical aftertaste common to items sweetened with a compound not found in nature. I know it would change the calorie count, but I think next time I may have to blend the splenda with some actual sugar.

The last complaint I have about this food experiment is absolutely my own fault for mucking about with the recipe. They were too chewy and I'm pretty sure this is due to the apple-sauce-for-fat substitution. I like replacing apple sauce for the fat in baked goods, usually. You get the moisture. You are, ostensibly, getting another fruit in. And, by and large, I usually don't notice a difference. You do get a small amount of textural difference in that shortening creates a moist yet, crumbling feeling in a baked good, but I find that the moisture is really what is key and you get that in spades. But these brownies just turned out...chewy. They look like brownies (albeit, burnt ones), they smell like brownies, they are chocolaty like brownies, but they're just not right. Close, yet so far away. Recently, on the Film Noir Experience I talked about when one thing reminds you of something else, but its not quite right. These brownies are like that, only they don't remind you of something, they are something. And, that something was poorly executed. In short, they were disappointing. But, as last minute, made from stuff I had in my home, under 200 calorie treats, they did the trick.

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