Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Day Full of Win

There are some days that can erase the rest of the week in the blink of an eye. It doesn't matter if it was the week from Hell, if your bus was late or you got stuck in traffic, if you forgot to feed the dog until 9PM or if you didn't manage to get to the gym three times a week like you promised yourself you'd start doing on New Years Eve. A single good day can make it seem a little smoother, though a complete vanishing act would require a bit more magic - and possibly a wand and stiff drink potion or two!

I like to call the good days around here "Days of Win" - it's a label I stole from my sister, I believe, who can pull off the "catchy" labels and phrases like that (since I have been misconstrued as being 40 years old since I was 15 - I'm not kidding - I lost my "cool factor" at about age 3!). This particular one (this past Saturday... can you tell I'm a bit behind?) got some bonus points with me though. For one, it combined one of the potential banes of my existence - college - with two of my life's joys: baking and chocolate. I don't think I've ever said anything against my Recipe Development course, but if I did... I take it all back. This assignment (and I can't believe I'm lauding homework!) is just way too much fun to be school!

If you remember the last school assignment I fell in love with - the one that gave birth to the ridiculously delicious Spinach And Black Bean Pasta - this one follows along the same sort of theme. Take a recipe, any recipe, and modify it to fit a specific (usually health-related) goal over a course of subsequent trials. Lowering fat, heightening fibre, de-glutening or the ever popular modified texture-friendly options were on the list, and though some were temptingly easy (a high fibre muffin? How about a vegan meal?) I had a pet project that began to percolate as I sifted through the list we were given. Thankfully, the catch all "other topic of your choice with teacher approval" note was at the bottom of the sheet, so I exploited it! I couldn't help myself, really, and once I let the cat out of the bag on Twitter I had to at least try my idea! My plan? Take the good ol' Fry's Cocoa Fudge Brownie recipe and not only veganize it and remove the nuts, but make it a high-protein, nutritionally dense product that kids recovering from surgery or chemotherapy that needed extra protein, vitamins and minerals would enjoy (moreso than the ever popular support shakes they supply). I started off with my usual modifications, eliminating egg and butter in favour of silken tofu and canola oil, then raided my pantry cache of ingredients for soy flour and ground flax. For an extra boost, I hit the health food store in search of some vegan protein powder, finding this one by North Coast Naturals, and added a dose of that to the batter before melting in a nice dose of baking chocolate for good measure. Everything got tossed into the food processor - one of the two workhorses in my kitchen (the other being my stand mixer) - and in about 5 minutes I had a black, gooey bowl o' batter! Only one small bowl (for the melting chocolate), no spoons or whisks to wash, and 10 minutes of total prep time? Win.

Like any good brownies, they stunk up the house something puurrrty while they were baking - and in a way I really regretted cutting the tester batch in half because I knew they would be irresistible, but then my rational self (and stomach) kicked in and reminded me that no matter how good they were, they wouldn't be mine to taste. It's not really a loss, on my end, since the whole reaction-avoidance thing outweighs hedonistic pleasure, but it wasn't a gloating victory! Luckily I was able to let them cool, wrap them in foil and stick them deep into the fridge to chill overnight before I went to cut them into the taste-test squares I was going to hand out. While I was biding my time, I went onto SparkRecipes - the tool I use for all the nutritional calculations in here if you want to know - and plugged in both the original recipe and my re-vamped one to compare.

Then I had to pick my eyeballs up off the ground - I did not expect the differences between the two bars to be as profound as they were! It wasn't so much a calorie / fat thing - though both were reduced in my recipe - but a nutrient difference that surprised me. I mean, I know that soy and flax are good sources of protein, but the veganized ones beat out tradition by 215%! Um, yeah. There's also less sodium and sugar, plus more fibre, potassium, calcium and iron. Nutritional win for me - big time.

Of course, all the nutrients in the world count for absolutely nada if what you're eating tastes like dirt... or worse, nothing at all. Thankfully, my faithful tasting panel (AKA my fellow group members, mom, health food store contact, counsellor and his receptionists) were able to come to my rescue and volunteered their palates for me! It turns out you really can taste with your nose, too - I was dead on with my initial verdict of these chewy concoctions as "adult fare". Rather than the Happy Mealish sugar cube in a cookie kind of treat, they're the Cadillac of brownies... grown up, dark, rich and just bitter enough to remind you that they're to be relished, rather than ravaged. You can't eat one of these in ten seconds flat - not that you'd want to anyways!

So, I've kept you in the dark long enough (and if you read through the drivel above, thanks!), so here's my secret recipe. For the version I'm bringing to the Kitchen Lab next week, and the one I've got for you today, I did up the brown sugar to appeal to the supposed "target market" of the assignment (i.e. sick, picky children), but if you want them like the "70%-dark" ones I first did, use only 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar instead of the 1 2/3.

High - Protein Vegan Brownies (AKA "Cadillac Brownies")
Makes 24
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2.2 oz (10 tbsp) flour
2 oz (7 tbsp) soy flour
6 tbsp unflavoured isolated soy protein powder
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
¼ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz (12 tbsp) cocoa powder
10 oz silken tofu
4.5 oz (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
7 oz (1 2/3 cup) brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain soy milk
2 oz (5 tbsp) miniature chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, grease a 9 x 13” pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. In a small microwave safe bowl (or in a pot over medium-low heat), gently melt the chocolate (use no higher than MEDIUM power so chocolate won’t scorch). Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, isolated soy protein powder, flaxseed, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor puree tofu, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  5. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, canola oil, and soy milk to the processor and blend in well.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the ingredients in the processor. Pulse in until just incorporated, do not allow processor to run continuously.
  7. Add miniature chocolate chips and pulse in briefly, just to mix in.
  8. Scrape into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs (but not wet batter).
  10. Cool completely in the pan before cutting and serving. Frost if desired.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 172.5
Total Fat: 6.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 50.4 mg
Total Carbs: 27.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.8 g
Protein: 5.8 g

These comforting bars of goodness are also my contribution to SHF: Sweet Comforts being hosted at A Merrier World.


  1. Funny, I've mod-ed the fry's recipe too. Mine was not as healthy as yours. I might have to try your recipe - with a few mods of course.
    Immediately I'm thinking that the milk used will depend on what's in my fridge (currently almond, sometimes it's brown rice but only the brand without oil), and I'd add coffee, possibly cinnamon. I have vanilla protein powder, so I'd use that and possibly omit vanilla extract, of which I make my own. Really, depends on what's on hand and what I feel like at the time.

  2. Wow - gosh, I do hope it's not only sick, picky children who are allowed to eat these!
    Thanks for entering Sugar High Friday :-)

  3. sounds excellent - must try these - I love soy flour in baking because it is added richness but good to hear it adds nutrients too

  4. thank you. i will be adapting these soon.

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  6. Hello, I just found your blog... through a forum I was reading, looking for a brownie recipe with pumpkin. {grin}

    So many of your recipes look wonderful! This one really caught my eye though... from what I gather you are a holistic nutritionist, with a degree? I am shocked you would use soy anything? I guess I'm wondering if you have soy info that I don't. :) Everything I've studies has said that soy is bad.

    Anyway, Thanks for sharing all these great recipes.



Thanks for the feedback!