“Healthy” brownies

I made my first chocolate truffles at nursery school. We must have had a teacher who loved cooking, because I also remember a day when we passed a bottle of milk around the circle, shaking it to try to churn it into butter. It was sort of like pass the parcel, but with no prizes (I’m pretty sure we didn’t succeed in churning the milk into butter – it was nursery school so we only did it for about 20 minutes before we would have had to stop for a snack and a nap). Anyway, one day we made chocolate truffles, and decorated boxes to put them in. I took mine home and put it in the fridge and proudly told my family what I’d made. My brother looked mildly interested in the fact that I’d brought something edible home from nursery, instead of another artistic masterpiece, and said he wanted to try them. He took one, took a tiny bite out of it, declared it disgusting, and spat it into the bin. I didn’t mind too much: more for me. But then he said, “Actually, I can’t remember if I liked it or not. I need to try another one.” So he took another one, took another tiny bite, said, “Eugh, disgusting!” and spat it in the bin. And then he said, “Maybe I should try another one, I can’t remember if I liked it or not” and did it all AGAIN. And then again, laughing all the time at his wittiness. And then probably again – but I can’t remember all the details, I was only 3.

Since then, probably due to this traumatic experience, I haven’t made many chocolate truffles, although writing about this has sort of made me want to. But what I have made many of, and what I am always on the hunt for, are truffly chocolate brownies. I know most people wouldn’t use the word “truffly” to describe a brownie. People more commonly talk about chewiness, gooeyness, etc. I do like that in a brownie, but very often I think brownies are too sweet and buttery and not chocolatey enough, hence why I use the word “truffly” to describe the level of chocolatiness I think a good brownie needs. I also like to cut my brownies into tiny little squares of about 1 inch, so they are quite truffly in size.

There are lots of recipes for brownies out there, and probably none of them could be described as healthy. These are maybe a bit healthier than most, partly due to their size, in the same way as those “count on us” or whatever they are called bags of crisps from Boots are healthier – “low fat, low cal – only 3 crisps!”. But also, these brownies use olive oil instead of butter and are therefore very low in saturated fats and high in the good things olive oil has to offer. I am also planning to try these  with coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature and therefore more similar to butter and may be even better, but that will be for a later post (i.e. when Waitrose restocks its extra virgin coconut oil).

The olive oil in these brownies gives them a slightly different texture to butter brownies – they aren’t quite so oozy, but they are denser and somehow more chocolatey. I think nuts in brownies are just a distraction, but if, like Jon, you disagree, then adding walnuts would make these even healthier. I think I made these with walnuts when I was pregnant, after I’d read something about how pregnant women should eat more walnuts for something, and declared them a health food and a necessity, but now I’d rather eat them nut-free.

Clearly these brownies are neither baby-friendly nor massively nutritious, but they aren’t totally against this blog’s manifesto, as they are super quick! They take barely 10 minutes to make and then about 20 minutes in the oven, and they taste great when they are warm so you could be reading this post now and be eating brownies in half an hour. They are made in one bowl with no electric mixer necessary so they require very limited washing up. Also, if you keep kosher, it’s really nice to have parev brownies which don’t use the dreaded Tomor (or any other margarine).

I made about 40 bite-sized brownies from this mix, and used a silicon baking tray that was about 7 by 9 inches. Something like an 8 by 8 inch pan would be ideal.

  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate. This is not so readily available in England (surprisingly, it is everywhere in the US). You can buy something like this from Waitrose and other supermarkets, but it’s quite expensive. I used a bar of Lindt 90%, which worked well. If you do have to use something less than 90% then reduce the sugar significantly to compensate. Taste it as you add the sugar to gauge how sweet to make it.
  • 3 fl oz olive oil
  • 1 fl oz water
  • Approximately 6 oz caster sugar OR my current favourite combination, 2 oz caster sugar and 4oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C/160 fan (aka your normal baking temperature).
  2. In a large bowl, break up the chocolate and add the oil and water. Heat over a saucepan until melted. You can also do this in the microwave if you are very careful and only do it in 30 second bursts.
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and, using a hand whisk, start adding the sugar, whisking gently to incorporate. If you are not sure how sweet you want the brownies, then taste as you go. If you’re using muscovado sugar, then you might want to keep it on a low heat for a little longer to help the sugar dissolve.
  4. Whisk in the eggs and salt, and then the flour and cocoa.
  5. Tip into your baking pan. If you’re using a silicon tray like mine, you don’t need to do anything, but if it is a metal tray then it is best to grease and line with baking parchment.
  6. Put into the oven and bake for around 20 minutes. Depending on the thickness of the brownies, they made need another 5 minutes. Test by seeing if a toothpick or fork comes out clean (unless you like very gooey underbaked brownies, in which case, take them out sooner).

*Approximate nutritional values in 1 bitesize brownie*

  • Calories: 62 kcal
  • Carbs: 7g
  • Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Sodium: 76mg

3 thoughts on ““Healthy” brownies

  1. Hello its Andrew. I went to school with Jon for a couple of years and haven’t seen him in ages. I followed a link he posted. I was minimally intrigued, but luckily just enough to overcome my velleity. Good thing too. I have thus far read every one of the recipes you’ve put up, I want to try all of them, I think your writing style is charming and had no idea you’d managed to so effectively house train Jon. The cheese thing though, that’s just odd. Kind regards.

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