Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ooey Gooey Chocolatey SPINACH???

I'll cut straight to the chase. There comes a time in a women's life, month, week, or day that chocolate becomes more than a treat. It becomes a necessity. Can I get an, "Amen?"

I'm sure that I'm not the only one.

I began to think about dessert. You must understand that I LOVE TO BAKE. Baking S'more cupcakes (complete with marshmallow filling and graham cracker crust), Margarita cupcakes (completely true to the name with sugar rims and know what), and sugar free Lemon Meringue (diabetics need some love too!) have been some of my baking success stories. The problem was that I can not bake or cook without tasting. I taste everything constantly, and when I don't things go really bad really fast. About a couple months ago, I called it quits for the sake of living a healthier lifestyle.

Yet...I miss chocolate.

Believing that there must be a way to enjoy a treat while sneaking in some nutrients, iDared myself to come up with a compromise. Before I continue, a disclaimer is in order. My goal in this experiment was NOT to make a healthy dessert. My goal was simply to add nutrients to an old time favorite. Alright...let's move on.

My challenge was simple. How can I add spinach (yes SPINACH) to brownies without altering the taste that my husband and I love.

Cook 4 cups of spinach in a frying pan using about a tablespoon of water at med-high heat. Add the spinach about a cup at a time, giving time for each cup to cook down properly. 

Add 2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar to the spinach, and allow the water to reduce down a bit in the hot pan. Be careful not to burn the liquid or caramelize the spinach. You are just reducing it down to where the spinach isn't dripping with water. 

Toss in a blender, and blend until spinach is broken down to tiny particles. 

The brownie mix (Yes, I used a boxed brownie mix. Dunkin Hines Chewy Fudge Family Style Brownies to be exact) called for 1/2 a cup of oil, so I mixed in the oil with the spinach mixture. Blend the oil and spinach until evenly mixed. The texture should look similar to baby food. 

Pour your powder mix into a bowl. Here's a baking tip. Aerate the mix. I simply take a whisk and aerate it, almost like I was beating eggs. I do this every time I bake, and it always makes for a better texture. Here is another tip. You can thank me later ;) Always put your fat in last. ALWAYS. Whether it's butter or oil, mix it in last. There's a science behind it, but honestly all I ever remember is works WONDERS!! 
Trust me.

Okay, so after you put in your eggs (I used 3 eggs for the cake style brownies) and everything else your recipe calls for. It's time for the yucky looking stuff. (Make these while you are home alone or no one may eat them with you. The spinach looks gross!  lol) Pour it in and mix it in well. This is a good time to use your electric mixer if you have one available. I opted to whisk it manually, and that was okay too. 

After tasting the batter (told you I taste everything!), I determined that there was still a bit of an after taste. More than anything I wanted to create a brownie that my husband would LOVE. I knew that I had to get rid of that after taste. This was my secret weapon. Grab one square of 54% Semi Sweet Baker's Chocolate and melt in the microwave according to the package directions. (Microwave 30 seconds and then stir. Repeat until fully melted. It took me about a minute to melt completely.) Mix the chocolate into the batter. 

Bake according to package directions. My brownies actually cooked about 3 minutes sooner than what the package directed, so keep an eye on them as they bake. I believe it may have been due to the added spinach. (Also, take a look at those bumps. Using an electric mixer could have eliminated that.) Here is the last step, and it is very, Very, VERY important. 
Let them cool! 
You WILL taste a little trace of "something funny" if you don't. 

Each box has 20 servings, so I cut them in 20 pieces. Here's the best part of it. Each brownie has half a serving of spinach in it which added about 208% DV of Vitamin K, 70% DV of Vitamin A, 6.5% DV of Iron, and 5.5% DV of Calcium to a BROWNIE! I chose to serve mine with sliced banana and a teaspoon of cream cheese frosting. In case you are counting, there are 6 WW points in each brownie including the icing. Don't get me wrong. This is still a brownie with all of the chocolate and sugar that comes with it, but it felt great to enjoy a treat with some nutritional value.  

I enjoyed mine to the last bite. Oh it was so so good! My husband liked it to. Before knowing about the added veggies, he said it was a "GOOD brownie." Let's not miss that emphasis on "GOOD". lol! He was pretty shocked when I told him about the spinach. He couldn't taste any difference in the brownie.

Mission accomplished. 

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