By Rose McAvoy
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz
Raise your hand if you like rich fudgy brownies with surprise chocolate bits hidden in each bite. I can’t actually see those hands but I am betting there are many. These treats will be a delight for you and anyone you share them with. I do hope you share them, not just because the recipe makes a lot. These are special Valentine’s Day chocolates and meant to be gifted to friends, co-workers, classmates, and special someones.
I few weeks ago I was feeling ambitious and started planning ahead for February. Glancing over the calendar page I discovered some very notable days all lined up in a single week. Next week will be pretty busy around here. Monday my little baby brother is turning 18. I am working to wrap my brain around that little nugget. It is hard to believe how fast the time has gone. On the heels of his milestone birthday we have Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday) followed by Ash Wednesday (aka the first day of Lent) AND THEN we arrive at Valentine’s Day. The order of days will mean nothing to some readers and a lot to others.
If you are unfamiliar with Lent and enjoy learning about other cultures and faith traditions, here’s a brief explanation:
On the Christian calendar Lent is the 40 day period prior to Easter. For many it is traditionally a time of solemn prayer, reflection, fasting, and abstaining from worldly pleasures. During this time many people choose to eliminate treats and or conveniences from their daily life. You may have heard people say “no thank you, I gave that up for Lent.” Additionally many who normally eat meat choose to follow a tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays or throughout the 40 days of Lent. This is all speaking in a very general sense. The specific details will vary with denominational traditions, local culture, family choices, or the individual. Feel free to check out this brief article for a little more detail on the history of Lent and the modern practices.
Easter doesn’t always land on the same calendar day, therefore Valentine’s Day doesn’t always happen during Lent. According to my mother, this scenario sparked great debate among the nuns when she was in school. Was it inappropriate to allow the traditional exchange of notes and sweets during the school day? I imagine the same question will be generating buzz in some schools until the end of next week.
For now let’s focus on the chocolate. I enjoy baking from scratch, but I also like to use a boxed mix as a launch pad. Using a mix does not require making the recipe on the box. It can be fun to think of a mix as a canvas for your creativity. I started with a box of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies. They are fine as is but I wanted to lighten them up a little and deepen their flavor. Right out of the gate I ignored the list of additional ingredients on the back of the box and grabbed super-rich Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt. The yogurt turns the brownies extra fudgy with a delicious tang.
Fage (“fa-yeh”), if you haven’t tried it, is so thick and creamy it is nearly the texture of cheese cake. The fabulous texture comes from straining the yogurt and removing most of the liquid. I try to stock up on this brand when it is on sale. If you want to try this recipe with another brand of Greek yogurt I recommend straining it first.
To strain yogurt at home: place two or three layers of clean cheese cloth in a mesh strainer over a bowl. Scoop the yogurt onto the cheese cloth and place it in the refrigerator to drain for several hours up to over night. Make sure to measure more yogurt than you need because the volume will decrease as the liquid drains away.
I am sure some readers will be giving up sweets in general or chocolate specifically before Valentines Day. I sincerely hope you to pick a day this week or early next to celebrate in advance. To help you get motivated I am delivering these rich chocolatey indulges into your hot little hands with plenty of time to make and enjoy them (Catholic) guilt free.
Fudgy Chocolate Brownie BitesThis recipe uses a mini muffin tin to make individually portioned brownies. The mini muffin cups measure about 1 3/4 inches in diameter and are 1 inch deep. Rich and delicious all by themselves. You can dress them up for a special occasion with a bit if chocolate glaze.
Yield 39 – 40 brownies
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 15 – 17 minutes per batch
- 1 box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, unsifted
- 1 – 7 ounce (200 gram) Fage 2% plain strained Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup (46 grams) Mini Chocolate Chips – alternately 46 grams of dark chocolate finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare mini muffin tins by wiping the inside of each cup with paper towel coated with non-stick spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl: use a fork to mix together the contents of the brownie mix packet, cocoa powder.
3. Add the yogurt and water. Stir with a spatula just until the bater becomes uniform in color and texture. Now fold in the chocolate chips.
4. Fill each prepared mini muffin cup 2/3 t0 3/4 of the way, this is just about 1 measured tablespoon of batter per brownie.
5. Bake at 350 for 15 – 17 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Tip: Make sure your muffin pan is clean before baking additional batches in the same pan. If there are crumbs in the pan the next batch will likely stick.
Per unglazed brownie: calories 71, fat 1.4 g., carbohydrate 14.2 g., fiber .6 g., protein 1.1 g., PP = 2
Chocolate Glazefrom Gina’s Recipes at skinnytaste.com
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon low fat milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- small pinch of salt
In a small bowl stir together the ingredients using a fork. It may initially appear to need more liquid but keep stirring until it all comes together. Once the glaze looks like frosting you may add a drop or two more milk to thin it a little more, be conservative with your additional liquid.
Drizzle over the brownies with a spoon or scoop into a small plastic sandwich baggie. Squeeze the glaze down into one corner of the bag and clip away only finger nail width of the corner to start. Squeeze in thin ribbons over the brownies. If needed away trim a tiny bit more of the corner to enlarge the opening. The glaze will dry firm and smooth but not completely hard like royal icing.
Per glazed brownie: calories 77.4, fat 1.4 g., carbohydrates 15.8 g. fiber .7 g., protein 1.1 g., PP= 2