SRP #14: Apple of my Eye

A dental “SRP” refers to “Scaling and Root Planing,” an intense, deep-cleaning experience, involving much saliva, some blood, and sharp instruments.  A FoodSwing Blog “SRP” refers to “Short Recipe Post,” an intensely delicious culinary experience,  involving minimal build-up and many tears…tears of joy.

Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Brownies

It’s baaaaaaaaaaack…Valentine’s Day — the most polarizing of all holidays.  Whether you have a valentine or not, you can still bake like you’re madly in love…with flavor.  Even better, you can have all of that flavor without exhausting the world’s butter supply.  Who knew?!  After all, bathing suit season is right around the corner (kind of).
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Lots of “healthy” baked goods achieve their lower-fat statuses through replacement of some or all of the fat typically found in the recipe with fruit of some form or other.  Unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin puree, prune puree, and the like can be found peppered throughout the world of lighter baked goods.  I have had mixed success with these substitution methods.  Some baked goods simply need the richness that comes from butter, cream, etc, and messing around with recipes like that will only lead to disappointment.

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Some recipes, however, do lend themselves well to less-fatty alternatives.  I find that it’s often best to try a half-and-half substitution first (half fruit:half fat) and adjust from there, according the the taste and texture of the experimental product.  In the case of these brownies, the half-and-half sub in my staple Pudding Mix Brownie recipe yielded just what I wanted!  Brownies that are moist enough to feel decadent, banana-y enough to know it’s there, and sufficiently sweet to make you want more.  Because seconds (and thirds) are totally fine (actually encouraged) when eating fruit, right?!

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Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Brownies

1 medium, very ripe banana
2/3 cup granulated sugar (if your banana isn’t super sweet, use the full 3/4 cup called for in the original recipe)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs, room temp
1 box chocolate instant pudding mix powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter + 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or white chocolate) chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and evenly spray a 9″x 13″ glass baking dish with canola oil, focusing especially at the edges.  In a mixing bowl, mash together the banana and the sugar until smooth; let sit for 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve into the banana mush.  Vigorously whisk vanilla, oil, and eggs into the banana-sugar mixture until smooth and no visible oil separation remains.  Beat in pudding mix and espresso powder.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, use a fork to fluff together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing only until no flour streaks remain.  Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts, and scrape batter into prepared baking dish, smoothing top surface into an even layer with the spatula.  In a microwave-safe bowl, place the peanut butter and peanut butter chips.  Microwave for 15 seconds, stir, and — if not totally smooth — microwave in 5 second increments, stirring between, until totally smooth.  Plop tablespoonfuls of melted peanut butter mixture over the surface of the brownie batter, then swirl a clean butter knife or toothpick through the blobs horizontally (parallel to the long edges of the pan), then vertically (parallel to the short edges of the pan) to create a marbled surface.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until edges are set and middle is no longer jiggly.  Let cool completely at room temp, then transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to slicing.
Sliced brownies may be stored (with cut edges nestled together to prevent desiccation) in airtight containers at room temp for up to 4 days, but I think they taste best if stored in the fridge for this time…and served with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt 😉
P.S.  You can cut out festive shapes (like Valentine’s Day hearts…or apples) from cooled brownies if the typical square brownies just don’t do it for you.  Added bonus:  you get to eat the scraps, you know, for quality control purposes.
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