Tuesday, May 27, 2008

on chocolate, Mayans, and cravings



Need we say more?

Well, no. But of course we will.

We owe our thanks to the Mayans for bringing the delightful cacao bean to the world stage. When most of us think of chocolate, we think of the high-fat candy that comes in chip or bar form. But in the form of cocoa powder it can be utilized in the nonfat kitchen with fabulous and skinny results. Diets may come and go, but cravings for chocolate will ever remain. One of life's constants, like a true friend. So, to keep this craving on the friendly side we came up with a versatile and delectable little dish.

Some might call this cake, but to us it has more the feel of a brownie with its heavier, slightly sticky crumb. We hope you enjoy.

Nonfat Chocolate Brownie

This dessert is easy, and we like that. It is wonderful served on a plate with nothing more than a flourish of nonfat Cool Whip to rest on top and provide the creamy taste that pairs so beautifully with chocolate (sprinkle with cocoa or nutmeg for a finishing touch). For variations you can add nuts or dried fruit before baking or sprinkle a bit of either on top before serving. Also, you could break this into chunks and layer with nonfat pudding, whipped topping, and pie filling to create a decadent trifle or individual parfait. And of course, nonfat ice cream piled under, in between or on top is enough to make anyone smile.

2 cups unsweetened apple sauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup white flour

¾ cup cocoa (not Dutch processed)

1 ½ cups white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. Spray one 9x13 or two 8-inch round pans with cooking spray and dust with flour. In a large bowl combine the applesauce, vanilla ,and vinegar and mix well. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to applesauce mixture, stirring until well mixed. Turn into prepared baking dish and bake 35-60 minutes, depending on size of pan. My 9x13 took about 40 minutes, but ovens vary widely. Test the center like you would a regular cake; toothpick inserted in center will come out mostly clean with just a few crumbs. Remove from oven. Cool for five to ten minutes and turn onto cooling rack or allow to cool completely in the baking dish itself. Drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze or dust with dry powdered sugar. Keep covered with plastic wrap until ready to serve.