There’s an art to baking with a toddler. Usually, it involves plenty of preparedness. Pulling out the ingredients beforehand, consulting the recipe to be sure you’ve got everything you need, laying out your bowls & tools. Y’know, the stuff I mentioned when we hosted a Toddler Cookie Party on New Year’s Eve.
But sometimes, all that advance prep just isn’t in the cards. Sometimes, it’s a rainy Friday afternoon and your toddler’s no longer napping so you’ve got a looong afternoon ahead and he says to you, “Mommy you be Percy and I’ll be Thomas” for the thousandth time and you just can’t.bear.the.thought of doing that for one more minute but it’s only 3:00… So you ask your toddler if he feels like baking brownies. And of course he says, “Yeah!” And then he says, “What’s a brownie?” And you explain that it’s sort of like a chocolate cake only much, much better, and in the back of your mind you’re trying to remember where you put that recipe for low-fat brownies you tore out of Good Housekeeping, of all places, because your usual brownie recipe is so decadent that you can’t possibly bake them while you’re this fat. Luckily, you remember that juices from the other night’s fantastic Polynesian Flank Steak spilled all over it so you’d left it on the kitchen windowsill to dry out.
(Part of preparedness is making sure your toddler isn’t wearing a white shirt.)
So you do what you have to do: You pretend you are a Zen master. Your toddler will make a mess, and you will let him. He will use his Thomas spoon and his Percy fork to stir the dry ingredients, and you won’t fret when he drops them both into the bowl and cackles delightedly. You will accidentally put the sugar into the dry ingredients rather than the wet, and you will tell yourself that brownie recipes are generally forgiving so it’ll probably be ok. And you’ll be right.
When your toddler gets batter all over his white shirt, all over his pants, all over everything, you’ll smile and think how incredibly adorable he looks with that smear over his eyebrow. You’ll clean up the kitchen while he devotes twenty minutes to licking a whisk. And then you’ll clean up your toddler, and have a great time doing it.
(He was so delighted to see his batter-stained face in the mirror, I did what any good mother would do: I left him perched precariously on the bathroom sink while I ran to get my camera.)
(Today’s lesson: Toddlers grow fast! A few weeks ago he couldn’t reach up to this counter. Now, he’s tall enough to gouge out a fingerful of brownie)
Superfudgy Low-Fat Brownies
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
Makes 16 small brownies, under 100 calories each!
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa [I used a combo of Dutch and Black]
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1 cup sugar [they’re very sweet, so go easy]
1/4 cup canola oil
3 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 350. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In cup or itty-bitty bowl, dissolve espresso powder in vanilla extract and set aside.
In small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
In medium bowl, whisk sugar, vegetable oil, egg whites, and espresso mixture until combined, then stir in flour mixture—it will be very thick at first, and you won’t think there’s enough liquid, but there is. Spread in prepared pan, and don’t be surprised if it all feels kind of solid, rather than batter-y.
Bake 22 to 24 minutes [it was 22 in my oven], or until toothpick inserted into brownies 2 inches from edge comes out almost clean—there should be a gooey crumb or two clinging to it. Cool completely in pan on wire rack [GH says 2 hours, but the only way this was achievable for me & Harry was for us to go to the library for that long.]
When cool, cut pan of brownies in half, then quarters, in one direction, and then repeat in the other direction—you’ll end up with 16 small brownies of roughly equal size.