Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Brownie Made Me Do It

I was ambushed by a box of brownies today. There I was, happily shopping at Trader Joe's, filling my basket with all manner of healthy foods when I turned a corner and there they were: small, dark and fudgy. Made with sea salt! Sea salt brownies, of all things. The sneaky little devils almost made it into my hands but then reality set in. Brownies are easy to make - did I really want to drop five bucks on something so simple?

Back at home a few hours later, I remembered this wonderful recipe from Alice Medrich's "Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts." I don't usually try to make dessert low-fat, but I do like this book. These brownies, in particular, are quick and delicious, and the low(er)-fat part is just the, uh, icing on the cake (sorry...). Alice instructs you to melt the butter, mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, and then combine everything together, but you can mix everything in one pan if you're careful to let the butter cool before you add the eggs. One-bowl, low-fat brownies? Yes, dreams do come true.

I'm also posting a companion dessert to use up the 2 egg yolks that are leftover from the brownie recipe. (I told you, I'm not into low-fat desserts, per se, and I don't like to waste food). Granola pudding is (1) better than it sounds, and (2) a variation on Grapenut Pudding. I had never heard of Grapenut pudding until a few years ago but I'm totally addicted to it. I don't usually have Grapenuts in the house, whereas I do have granola; I therefore give you Granola Pudding.

Michael's Fudge Brownies

1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee granules (optional - you can omit it if you don't have it on hand)
1 teaspoon hot water
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons butter or margarine -- melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites -- lightly beaten
1 egg -- lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt (use sea salt, for a more expensive brownie)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat (or in a large, microwaveable bowl). Let the butter cool a bit, the stir in the sugar, vanilla, egg whites and egg. Combine the coffee granules and hot water in a small bowl; add to the egg mixture and stir well.

2. Add the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder; stir well with a fork or wooden spoon. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan or bowl to make sure that everything is well combined.

3. Spread batter into an 8" square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes; let cool in pan. Yield: 16 brownies (serving size: 1 brownie). (Uh, don't know about you, but I can't stop at 1 brownie!)

Granola Pudding
The custard recipe is Baked Vanilla Custard, from Marion Cunningham's "The Supper Book"

2 egg yolks
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I prefer 1/3 cup)
3 cups very hot milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup homemade granola (I like this recipe from Bon Appetit)
salt to taste

1. Heat the oven to 325 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Set a shallow pan large enough to hold the baking dish in the oven, and fill it with 1 inch of hot water (I use a large frying pan).

2. Mix the yolks and eggs together until just blended. Stir in the sugar and salt and slowly add the hot milk, stirring constantly. Add the vanilla. Strain into the baking dish and sprinkle the granola over the top.

3. Put the dish or ramekins in the shallow pan and bake for about 45 minutes; the custard is set when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake; remove it from the oven when the very center of the custard still trembles a little bit. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled (it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days).


Jen said...

I've had those brownies with sea salt from Trader Joe's. They are addicting. We all tried your homemade granola yesterday. It was delicious. Thanks for posting the recipe here!

Karen said...

I might have been better off buying the brownies anyway - there were fewer in the package than in the pan I made. (If i'm going to eat the whole thing...).

Glad you liked the granola.