Posts Tagged 'brownies'

Candy Cane Cheesecake Brownies

Yet one more cookie for the cookie plate I’m bringing to my neighbor’s Christmas dinner (if I can get myself shoveled out).  I made them in haste this morning while I was waiting for the snow to stop – hah!  But here they are; the original recipe is from Cooking Light.

Candy Cane Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake batter

1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (see note)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
Red food coloring (optional)

Brownie batter:

4.5 ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 cup) I weighed the flour, and it was about 7/8 cup. I expect different flours have different weights.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil (see Note 2)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

The cheesecake batter: place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add granulated sugar and peppermint extract; beat well. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white; beat well. Add 1 tablespoon flour; beat mixture just until blended. If you want the candy cane look, put half of the cream cheese batter into a separate small bowl and tint to the desired shade with the food coloring. (You can skip this step and make the cheesecake layer all white – or any color you wish). Set aside

The brownie batter: weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces flour into a dry measuring cup. Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, 2 egg whites, and 1 egg in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

Assembly: Reserve 1/2 cup of brownie batter. Pour remaining batter into the prepared baking pan. Carefully spoon reserved white (or all if you’re not tinting) cheesecake batter over top making the layer as even as possible and extending it to the edges. Dot white cheesecake batter with the pink cheese cake batter and then with reserved brownie batter. Carefully swirl the layers of batters together using the tip of a knife. I went across about 4 times and down 4 times and it made a nice pattern:


Bake at 350° for 25-28 minutes or until top is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into pieces.  This is one of those recipes that called for 16 brownies, but they were huge, so, like with other bar cookies, I halved them.  This thus made 32 brownies at about 4 grams of fat/brownie.


Note: The recipe called for ¼ teaspoon of mint extract, but it wasn’t very minty.  I read the reviews of the recipe online, and several said it wasn’t minty enough, so I increased the amount.  I suggest that you add the mint extract gradually, and taste after each addition, so that you get the flavor that you want.

Note 2: As you may know, usually I partially replace the oil in baked goods with applesauce, leaving a tablespoon or so of oil to bind the flour.  But it’s tricky replacing fats in cookies; sometime they turn hard as rocks.  So I left the oil in, and reduced the fat by making the bars smaller, putting them in the acceptable 4 gram ranges (and making them fit on a cookie tray.)

Variation: I think it would be pretty sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of crushed candy can or hard mint candies over the top of the brownies while they are still warm, pressing them in gently.  And you could certainly vary the colors.

Confession: These are not the best brownie I have ever tasted. They were tasty, but they weren’t rich and chocolaty, and the texture wasn’t quite right. Maybe they needed to bake a little longer, but I think I am going to try the cream cheese topping over a really good brownie.  I also thought the colored swirls looked a bit garish when the brownies were cut into pieces.


Brownies and Blondies

Yet another potluck. And at short notice. They are providing the barbecued burgers and chicken. Usually I like to make something interesting and exotic that will wow people with my cooking prowess and shock them when I tell them it is low fat. But there are several factors that interfered with my usual strategy.

  • With short notice, I don’t have time to go to the grocery, whatever I make has to be from ingredients I have in the house – a bad time to discover you’re almost out of brown sugar.
  • It is on a week night, so it has to be something I can make after work.
  • The gathering is way out in the middle of nowhere. So it has to be something sturdy that can withstand bouncing around on the seat of my truck as I get lost navigating dirt roads in the deep woods trying to find this place.

So the decision is: Bittersweet Brownies and Cranberry Pecan Blondies. It was a good decision, too, because I did indeed get lost out in the woods looking for the tiny hidden driveway onto their land, and almost everyone else brought a salad.

Here they are in their glory, ready for transport to the feast:

About these Bittersweet Brownies. The recipe comes from Cooking Light, a magazine you should seriously consider subscribing to. These are some of the best brownies I have ever eaten. The brownies are moist, and if you love chocolate, they are positively orgasmic.

Bittersweet Brownies

Cooking spray
1/4 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon instant espresso granules or 2 Tablespoons instant coffee granules
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (not your regular chocolate chips, but the really dark kind like Ghirardelli 60% Cacao)
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Combine 1/4 cup water and coffee granules in a medium bowl. Stir in chocolate chips, stirring until they melt. Stir in butter, vanilla, egg, and egg white until they are well combined. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups, level with a knife. Add sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt to the flour and whisk together. Add chocolate-coffee mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just moist. (This was very stiff to stir, even with a wooden spoon. I ultimately used my hands to make sure all of the dry ingredients were mixed in). Place batter into prepared baking pan, and smooth out so it is mostly even. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you are using it. Cut into servings.

The original recipe said this made 18 brownies, at 5.8 grams of fat/brownie. This made mighty big brownies, especially to take to a potluck. I cut it into 24 brownies, at 3.9 grams of fat/brownie. They were nice sized brownies, and since one of my Principles is that a snack should be 4 grams of fat or less, it brought them into snack range.

Hint: it is difficult to substitute applesauce for butter in cookies. The trick is to have recipes that use less butter.

Hint: For years, I just scooped the flour into a measuring cup and leveled it, the way my mother did. I recently learned it is better to lightly spoon the flour into the cup until it is overflowing and level it off. You don’t compress the flour, so the measure is more accurate, and your baked goodies are lighter in texture. Who knew?

Yet another hint: When making brownies, cookies, and many other baked goods, you need to make sure the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined with the wet ingredients so there aren’t nasty lumps of unmixed flour in your goody, but not to beat them too much or your baked goodies will be tough.

Cranberry Pecan Blondies

This recipe was an improvisation when I discovered that I did not have the ingredients for the oatmeal butterscotch bars I was going to make. They are a bit cakier in texture than brownies.

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups, level with a knife. Add oats, baking powder, and salt to the flour and whisk together. Put sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until they are well blended. Add egg substitute, egg, and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are just combined. Sir in nuts and fruit. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. This makes 24 bars at 3.8 grams of fat/bar.

Hint: Toasting nuts brings out their flavor, so you can use fewer of them. Toast nuts by putting them in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. It takes about 5 minutes. They’re done when you can smell them – be sure not to burn them.

Variations: These would be good with other dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped apricots, or chopped cherries.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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