Obedient Ingredients

A place to put cooking ideas to the test.

Brownies Experiment: No Oil, No Problem PART 2

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I have had some tests brewing (baking?) in my head for a long time, ever since the ever popular brownie oil/eggs-substitution test went up over a year ago. I decided it is time to try out a few new substitutions and do a blind taste test.

How do brownies (from a box) taste when you substitute certain things with the oil and eggs?

Today’s new substitutions:  mayo, yogurt and avocado!

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Some Background

To recap the basic brownie-from-a-box recipe:

Brownie mix + eggs + oil x baking time = brownies.

The brownie mix has all the sugars and cocoa and who knows what else. But 1/2 cup of vegetable oil is quite a lot. Maybe that is too unhealthy for your diet. Maybe you ran out of vegetable oil (note: I’ve used olive oil once. It was … interesting…OK, it was gross) and you need to substitute something.

Last time, I made 4 brownie batches.

One normal one (mix + oil +eggs)

One with black beans (mix + pureed black beans)

One with prunes (mix + eggs + pureed prunes)

And one with apple sauce (mix + eggs + applesauce).

I essentially followed the same baking directions (oven temp and time) and handed them out to hungry mouths.

You should look at the range of opinions and comments made about each batch, but essentially, at least with my group, there was a consensus that the normal brownies and the black bean brownies were awesome. The other two less awesome but no where near disgusting or inedible.

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Experiment

Today’s subs are:

Mashed avocado replacing the vegetable oil.

Mayonnaise replacing the oil AND eggs.

Yogurt replacing the oil.

I used Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate brownie box mix. I picked a cheap one (because buying 4 boxes of brownies is expensive for me!) and also I wanted to see how these substitutions held up on their own without being overpowered by, say, a better chocolate brownie.

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I replaced the 1/2 cup of oil with 1/2 cup of avocado…since an avocado is essentially oil. The box called for 1/4 cup of water, so I used that to help soften the avocado. Once I made the avocado into a soggy paste (sounds appetizing) I mixed it with the two eggs. After whisking that together, I added the mix, folded it until incorporated, then put in the pan to bake.

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After that came out of the oven, I immediately put the one with yogurt in. After that, the one with mayo.

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Mayo grosses some people out….so this photo is smaller.

 

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ALSO, I made a batch of black bean brownies (vegan) to see how they compared. They were a hit last time.

 

Results

Here are people’s (and my) reactions:

Part 1: A few hours out of the oven (with my two roommates).

Yogurt

  • Good flavor
  • Cake-y
  • Fluffy
  • Like Angel Food Cake
  • Dry

Black Bean

  • No flavor
  • Stale
  • Flavorless
  • Cheap store bought Nutrigrain bar
  • Less of chocolate flavor

Mayo

  • Juicy
  • Chewy
  • Fudgy
  • Seizes up in your mouth after a few bites
  • Thick
  • Full of flavor
  • A weird salty flavor

Avocado

  • Most brownie-like
  • Cake
  • Dense
  • Pound Cake
  • Similar to the [Black Bean Brownie]

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Part 2: A day later (with a bunch of coworkers and other people who work in my building).

Yogurt

  • Too sweet
  • Too dry
  • Cake-like
  • Blander than [Avocado brownies]
  • This one…I don’t know what to say

Black Bean

  • Like chewy texture
  • Brittle, crumbly, but nice texture overall
  • I like the chewiness
  • Eh, OK
  • Not a lot of chocolate taste
  • Weird chewy texture
  • Weird! Just Weird!!

Mayo

  • Burnt, not good.
  • Nice and chewy and rich.
  • Too chewy, but I like the flavor more
  • Good flavor but really tough to chew

Avocado

  • Too dry but flavor is good
  • On the dry side, a little bland
  • More spongy than I like for brownies, missing flavor
  • Too spongy, but tasty!
  • Chewy, some flavor.
  • Some vegetable flavor.
  • (Much later in the day) Almost a rotten taste to it. Not quite, but it’s there.
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The one on the left is the yogurt brownies right before they went in the oven. The one on the right is the mayo batch. It needed more liquid. It felt like play-dough

Conclusions

This has been my most UNPLEASANT taste test. Usually when I bring in experiments to work, like my onion and guacamole taste test, people loved that. And unlike the last brownie taste test, these concoctions were just … not great.

It’s hard to say which is the best brownie when replacing the eggs, oil or both with other ingredients. It’s clear to say that they were not well received. The mayo brownies were definitely the most different than the others, or maybe because mayonaise is essentially eggs and oil already it was the closest thing to “normal” brownies. The avocado one had a pleasantness to it but after time it became dry and I suspect a little rotten, which usually happens to vegetables.

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Given people’s (and my own) reaction to the black bean brownies, I believe that my baking was not as accurate as it could have been. I blame my oven … I’m not used to baking in it and I have been told by my roommates that it can get a lot hotter than what the temperature says. All ovens are different, which is why an oven thermometer would be great. So I have a feeling I overcooked these brownie batches, which is why they all seemed a bit dry (or even with the mayo brownies, how they seized up even though they were considered “fudgy”.)

Is this experiment a bust since I may have overcooked these batches? Perhaps. Can brownies be made from these ingredients? Sure! Now it’s just a matter of finding the right cooking times/temperatures.

If there are more substitutions to try out, I will test them in the future, and maybe re-test some of these substitutions. The two I have heard of that I have not tried this time around:

  1. Sour cream
  2. Replace eggs with some flax seeds + water.
  3. Canned pumpkin mix.

Until then, I have several  boxes of NORMAL brownies I need to make for my roommates and coworkers, especially after putting them through this gross taste test. My friends now think I cannot make good brownies, and that upsets me.

😦

Oh yeah, right there. Soft and moist and a bit cake-like, a perfect mix, with chocolate frosting on the top, creating an amazing texture.

Oh yeah, right here we have some amazing brownies I made many months ago. Soft and moist and a bit cake-like, a perfect mix, with chocolate frosting on the top, creating an amazing texture.

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