There’s only so much you can do to make brownies more healthful without robbing them of their essential brownieness. Here are two opposite approaches: One uses cake mix and replaces the fat with alternate ingredients, the other uses all the normal decadent ingredients but sneaks in some whole-wheatiness.

ChocoHound made brownie muffins, which consist of devil’s food cake mix and canned pumpkin, and says they’re nice and chewy, and more subtly chocolaty than most brownies.

geminigirl has made low-fat brownies by puréeing a can of black beans with their juices and combining them with a boxed brownie mix; she says the brownies come out well, with no bean flavor.

Babette makes her “healthier” chocolate chip–dried cherry brownies from scratch, using the best-quality butter, chocolate, and cherries she can (she prefers Plugrá, Scharffen Berger, and Purcell Mountain Farms, respectively); whole-wheat pastry flour; and opting for organic ingredients.

Here’s her recipe:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups dried cherries

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla. Add chocolate chips and cherries. Pour into a buttered 9-inch square pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Do not overbake. Brownies should be very moist. Cool in the pan. Dust the cooled brownies with powdered sugar, and cut into squares.

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