Healthy Chocolate Jam Brownies. Courtesy of Julie LeBlanc.
Summertime means sunshine and sunshine means spending plenty of time outdoors. One of many delectable picnic staples is the brownie, but in this economy, how do you avoid spending riches on ingredients and maintaining a healthy diet?
The history of the brownie is a delicious one. According to 190north.com , one ancestor of the modern brownie was created by the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois during the Columbia Exposition in 1893. Philanthropist Bertha Palmer, as president of the Board of Lady Managers, asked the chefs to concoct a dessert for the ladies of the event. It had to be smaller than a piece of cake but easy enough to eat out of a boxed lunch.
The original recipe used walnuts and was topped with an apricot glaze; The Palmer House Hotel still serves their famous concoction to this day. Click here to check it out!
Another recipe appeared in Lowney's Cook Book in 1907: it added an egg and extra chocolate to create a fudgier version as compared to the one from Illinois. According the Nibble, one of the tales surrounding the brownie's invention involved, "a housewife in Bangor, Maine, who was making a chocolate cake but forgot to add baking powder. When her cake didn’t rise properly, instead of tossing it out, she cut and served the flat pieces." Unfortunately, this hearkens back to a recipe published in 1912, years after another, Fannie Merritt Farmer, published her recipe in 1906.
Regardless of how this tasty American treat came to be, a recipe like this begs for interpretation.
In a recent foray to the grocery store I bought a box of milled flax seed. I had no idea what to do with it. I'd just heard that it was good for you, so why not? Upon doing a little research, I found that flax seed is an amazingly sneaky ingredient.
According to WHFoods.com, flax seeds have--in just 2 tablespoons--roughly 146.3% of your daily recommended value of omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically they are "rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat that is a precursor to the form of omega-3 found in fish oils called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA."
Among their many health benefits, Omega-3 fats help cells to grow flexible membranes. This is of paramount importance for diabetics as a flexible membrane responds better to insulin. WHFoods.com continues to say, "omega-3 fats help protect colon cells from cancer-causing toxins and free radicals, leading to a reduced risk for colon cancer."
Better yet, these little wonders provide an excellent source of fiber, which "can lower cholesterol levels in people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, reduce the exposure of colon cells to cancer-causing chemicals, help relieve constipation and stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetic patients."
What does this have to do with dessert? According to Hodgson Mill, a brand of flax seed I found at my supermarket, 1 c. of milled flax seed can stand in for 1/3 c. oil in a recipe. 1T of milled flax seed plus 3T of water can also stand in for 1 egg in baked goods. Why not try out this amazingly healthy ingredient in a brownie recipe?
I've found that whisking the dry ingredients prior to adding the wet makes for a fluffier crumb: even and especially when using whole grain flour! Also, these brownies come out a bit cake-like, so if you like yours more on the fudgy side, consider adding an additional egg to the batter.
Healthy brownies fresh from the oven! Courtesy of Julie LeBlanc.
Healthy Chocolate Jam Brownies
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter
1 c. chocolate chips
1 T. baking powder
2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. soy milk
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milled flax seed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 T cinnamon
1/2 c. raspberry jam
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cocoa, flax, salt and cinnamon. Whisk until light and fluffy: very much the consistency of sifted powdered sugar.
In a smaller bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and soy milk.
Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture. Stir until it just comes together and fold in the chocolate chips.
Butter a 9x13" baking pan and dust it with flour. Once sufficiently covered, pour in the brownie batter.
Heat the jam in the microwave for about a minute until its consistency turns runny. Spoon some of the jam atop the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the batter and the jam together, taking care not to mix the two together completely.
Bake in a 350 oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clear. Enjoy warm with no-sugar-added ice cream or with a cold glass of milk.
If you're looking for a sweet treat in Gainesville, try the Yum Cupcakery at 3345 SW 34th Street Suite 1 A. They may not be brownies, but they're customizable and limited only by the sweet limits of your imagination!