Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

pb swirl browniesCan a “healthy” version of a dessert actually taste as good as the regular, full-sugar, full-fat version? This is a question I’ve pondered for some time, fascinated by the employment of applesauce and stevia and wheat flour in a variety of treats in lieu of higher sugar/fat/carbohydrate ingredients. For the most part, I envisioned healthy versions of desserts to be unfulfilling, tasting vaguely like their regular counterparts, but not quite as good.

My boss asked if I’d be interested in baking this Weight Watchers peanut butter swirl brownie, as many of us in the office have recently recommitted ourselves to healthier habits. I was more than happy to test this out, to see if a lower sugar, reduced-fat brownie could live up to my advanced sweet tooth’s expectations.

This recipe is very easy to make and put together, so don’t be intimidated by ingredients like apple butter and egg substitute. You’ll find other uses for them (stay tuned, as I’ll be searching for ways to use up apple butter in the coming days) and they behave pretty much exactly like the full fat, full sugar ingredients they’re replacing. The brownies were a big hit at the office today, and I have to admit, they actually taste like real brownies.

Peanut Butter Swirl

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Neufchatel cheese
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
  • 3 tablespoons half and half

Preparation

Combine Neufchatel and peanut butter in a mixing bowl and beat until well-combined.

Add egg substitute and beat until well-combined.

Add half and half and beat until well-combined and fluffy. You want a easily-spreadable texture.

Set aside while you prepare the brownie mix.

Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 box dark chocolate brownie mix (or regular mix if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup fat-free egg substitute

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.

Spread half of the brownie mix in the bottom of the pan.

Top with dollops of about half of the peanut butter swirl mixture; using a spatula or knife, swirl to spread peanut butter mixture over the brownie mix.

Spread the remaining half of the brownie mix over the top, then follow with additional peanut butter swirl mix in dollops. Swirl peanut butter over the brownie mix.

Bake for 30-32 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. My brownies were slightly more fudgy in the middle than I would have liked, and I baked for 30 minutes, but I’d recommend adding a few extra minutes for a firmer center.

Cool completely; cut into 32 squares. One square is equal to 4 Weight Watchers points, for those participating in the program.

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