Recipe & photography updated 8/28/2013
The richest brownies I’ve ever tasted, the EASIEST brownies I’ve ever made. Brownies that taste like fudge.
Many of you have told me that you’ve made the original version and loved ‘em. I don’t blame you! Skinny Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies are what dreams are made of. And I don’t ever want to wake up. Just like the original version, today’s skinny brownies are made with no oil and no butter. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Oh, and no beans either. I cannot get on board with beans in my brownies.
My regular full-fat fudge brownies call for melted chocolate, 3 eggs, and a stick of butter. Hence, their wonderful decadence and fudgy consistency.
To achieve the same rich & dense texture but cut the calories & fat, I used unsweetened cocoa powder and 0% Greek yogurt. Instead of white flour, I used ground up oats. Using ground oats eliminates gluten from the brownies. If you’re gluten intolerant, make sure your oats are certified GF. If you are not limiting your gluten intake, you may use whole wheat flour instead.
Did you know? A brownie’s fudgy texture is directly related to the amount of flour in the recipe. And with only 1/2 cup ground up oats in the entire recipe, you can imagine the density and fudginess of these! They’re shockingly rich, but without all the saturated fat and empty calories.
The brownies are sweetened with pure maple syrup. It sounds odd, but it works. Think mapley-pumpkin-y thoughts. The brownies aren’t overly sweet as written. If you do not like intense dark chocolate, try adding a few more Tablespoons of maple syrup to the batter.
There is no refined sugar in the brownies themselves, but I couldn’t get away with NOT using a touch of white sugar in the pumpkin swirl. Believe me, I tried. Let’s talk about that gorgeous orange cheesecake swirl, shall we?
Take a bit of pure pumpkin puree, a dollop of low fat cream cheese, 1 egg yolk, pumpkin spices, and a minuscule amount of white sugar. Beat it all together to create a rich and creamy autumn-y swirl to the fudgy brownies underneath. I tried to make the swirl with maple syrup – it was NOT good.
If you’re watching your diet, these brownies are the perfect treat this time of year. Whole grain, gluten free, low in fat, very low in refined sugar, and high in decadent flavor. The taste is what is most important, right? Why make a “lightened-up” treat if it tastes awful?!
And did I mention? They are a breeze to make! The ingredients are mixed together in a blender (yes, a blender!) and poured into a baking pan. Swirl the pumpkin cheesecake bliss around and pop in the oven. Easy peasy. The hardest part is waiting for the brownies to cool. If you cut into them too early, the brownies will crumble and fall apart. You can always I rush the process and cool them in the refrigerator.
These brownies are like pumpkin pie, cheesecake, and brownies all getting together for a date with my skinny jeans. Thank heavens.
*The recipe written below was updated on 8/28/2013 from a previous version I wasn’t happy with. These brownies have a firmer pumpkin cheesecake swirl and less sugar.
Skinny Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Dark, fudgy brownies made lighter and swirled with pumpkin!
Yield: 12 large brownies
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup vanilla 0% Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, low fat or nonfat, plain or vanilla)
- 1/4 cup milk (almond milk, coconut milk, cow milk, soy milk)
- 2 egg whites - save 1 yolk for cheesecake swirl
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or agave or honey)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl
- 1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
- 2 Tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 8×8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Grind the oats in your food processor to produce a powdery flour. If you are not gluten intolerant, you may just use 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour instead of oat flour.
Add the oat flour and the rest of the brownie ingredients into a blender (yes, a blender!). For easier blending, place the liquid ingredients into the blender first. Blend until mixture is smooth and oats are ground up. You will have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times. Batter will be very thin. *If you like very sweet brownies, add a couple more Tablespoons of maple syrup to the batter.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Prepare the pumpkin swirl by beating together pumpkin puree and cream cheese together on high speed until smooth. Add the sugar, egg yolk and all of the spices. Beat until combined and creamy. Drop pumpkin mixture by spoonfuls onto the batter, swirling gently with a knife to create a marbled effect. (Try not to overmix!)
Bake for 22-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. I covered my brownies loosely with aluminum foil at the 15 minute mark. Brownies will be extra fudgy, so be sure to wait until COMPLETELY cooled – I stuck mine in the refrigerator for 1 hour, which allowed them to be cut very easily.
Cut into 12 squares. I enjoy mine cold and suggest storing in the refrigerator.
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