I know you're going to laugh when you read this, but prune brownies are really pretty good.
All kidding aside, the California Prune Board has been experimenting with substituting prune puree or prune butter for butter, margarine or oil, measure for measure, in standard recipes for muffins, cakes and cookies. (In a recipe that calls for 1/4 cup of butter or oil, substitute 1/4 cup of prune puree.)
The brownie samples they provided were really chocolaty and good. The texture was a little different, spongy rather than chewy. But if you're a chocoholic looking for a low-fat treat, you should at least give these a try.
A word of caution, however. You still have to exercise some control.
First, while the brownies contain only 2 grams of fat, they are not calorie-free, containing 58 calories for each 1 1/2 -inch square.
Second, preliminary research indicates naturally occurring sorbitol is the ingredient responsible for replacing the textural quality of fat. Sorbitol also happens to be the sugar-alcohol used in many "sugar-free" candies and gums. While safe in small amounts, large doses of sorbitol produce gas and diarrhea in many people.
People most likely to benefit by "pruning the fat" from brownies are athletes, folks on cholesterol-lowering diets trying to decrease their saturated fat intake, and people trying to reduce fat intake generally, without totally giving up sweets.
Prune butter should be available in the jam and jelly or baking section of your grocery store.
To make prune puree, combine 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) pitted prunes and 6 tablespoons water in a food processor. Pulse until prunes are finely chopped.
Low-fat fudgy brownies Makes 3 dozen brownies.
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup prune puree or prune butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Cut chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in heat-proof bowl. Place over low heat in a small skillet containing 1/2 -inch simmering water. Stir occasionally just until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and set aside. In mixer bowl, combine all ingredients except flour and walnuts; beat to blend thoroughly. Mix in flour. Spread batter in prepared pan; sprinkle with walnuts. Bake about 30 minutes until springy to the touch about 2 inches around the edges. Cool on rack. Cut into 1 1/2 -inch squares.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore. HC