Tuesday, February 17, 2009

in search of mocklate, chapter 1: brownies

Introducing...a new thread all about sweets! I'm calling it "In Search of Mocklate," and I will be periodically posting ideas for ways to get around that whole not-eating-sugar thing, because it's not as if I don't like dessert. For my first foray in search of mocklate, I chose to experiment with brownies. The adventure culminated at a party we attended Sunday evening, where friends unwittingly taste-tested a whole bunch of sugar-free, flour-free treats. Before I get too far, I would also like to mention that certain tasters (Lacey!) had some great ideas for the title of this post: "Brownies You Could Eat for Breakfast," or "Brownies with a Secret Ingredient (no, not that)."

I started this experiment innocently enough with an internet search for suitable brownie recipes. I Googled "diabetic brownies," "sugar free brownies," "hypoglycemia brownies," (that one didn't come up with much) and "low carb brownies." I am somewhat dismayed to report that the first recipe that came up in my search for diabetic-friendly brownies was this one with regular ol' white flour - yikes! Then there was this one, which was in the same vein, but has the remarkable distinction of requiring 60 packets of Sweet & Low. Ewww. And, I wish someone could explain to me how this one, entitlted "Not So Guilty Brownies" by Diabetic Gourmet is supposed to be eaten without causing a huge blood sugar swing. (Let's just pause for a sec to remember that the issue here is not guilt, but illness.) Needless to say, I kept looking.

Eventually, I settled upon two recipes to test in a weekend baking frenzy. The first, found on About.com is low-carb, and uses lots of cream cheese, almond meal instead of flour, and Splenda instead of sugar. (I didn't modify it at all, so I won't re-type the recipe since you can just follow the link.) The recipe was easy, and the brownies were delicious! The texture was slightly less cakey than regular brownies would be, but good in thier own way with the almond meal making it surprisingly fluffy and (not surprisingly) nutty. You can get almond meal at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and in the specialty/organic aisle of most grocery stores. Definitely give this one a try - our fellow party-goers were clueless about the lack of sugar and flour.

The second recipe is the one with the more counter-intuitive set of ingredients, and the one I had the most fun watching people try. The secret? Black beans! And, no, this is not some kind of weird "savory brownie" thing served with salsa on top - it tastes like honest-to-god brownies, and I swear you would never know there are beans in it. Mike HATES beans, but he totally dug these brownies.

I found the black bean brownie recipe on 101 Cookbooks, and did not adapt it, so click the link to check it out. They passed the party test with flying colors, even though they came out pretty soft and were hard to cut into squares. I highly recommend trying this, because they taste decadent, are excitingly unlike anything else you've probably tried, and are a hilarious way to mess with your friends while feeding them a sweet and healthy treat. Just wait until they've had a few bites to reveal your secret.

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