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Trying to reduce calories and fat can be tough, especially if you’re a fan of sweets.

But it doesn’t need to be torture. Changing up ingredients in recipes can make them healthier but still retain the flavor.

The Associated Press shares just how to do that with a lighter brownie recipe from “The Best Light Recipe.” The book was compiled by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine (America’s Test Kitchen) and can help satisfy chocoholics trying to cut the fat in brownies.

Here’s the story from AP:

 Try ‘Best’ recipe for ‘light’ brownies Associated Press 

Brownies normally don’t fit at the top of anyone’s low-fat eating plan.

But they are such a favorite that it’s sensible to have a tested recipe for a low-fat version for occasions, just once in a while, when the yearning for a taste of chocolate might be allowed. Perhaps there’s a place for such a brownie, tucked into a back-to-school lunch box, say — always as part of a balanced menu that includes plenty of vegetables, whole grains and some protein.

Happily, there’s a whole cookbook of recipes for all kinds of standard and favorite family dishes, made over to cut out calories and fat without sacrificing texture and taste.

It’s “The Best Light Recipe” (America’s Test Kitchen, 2006) compiled by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. They refer to the book’s contents as “300 lower-fat recipes that put flavor first.”

The secrets of getting a lower-fat brownie just right, they reveal, include using cocoa powder to replace some of the chocolate; using a little espresso powder to accentuate the chocolate flavor; using far less butter; and adding a little water to improve the cocoa flavor and keep the brownies moist.

Tips: Be sure to use semisweet chocolate and not semisweet chips; additives in the chips would result in a drier, squat brownie. To ensure moist, fudgy brownies, it is important not to overbake them. Be sure to check the brownies for doneness several minutes before the specified baking time has elapsed.

 BROWNIES 1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking powder2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder1 tablespoon warm water1 tablespoon vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder2 tablespoons unsalted butter3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) sugar1/8 teaspoon salt1 large egg, lightly beaten 

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with parchment paper or foil, then lightly coat with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa, water, vanilla and espresso powder together; set aside.

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Microwave the butter and chocolate together in a medium microwave-safe bowl on 50 percent power until melted, about 1 minute; whisk until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the sugar and salt until completely incorporated.

Whisk in the cocoa mixture, then whisk in the egg. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated (do not overmix).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking (do not overbake).

Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour, lift the brownies out of the pan by grasping onto the parchment paper, and cut into 12 brownies.

Makes 12 brownies.

 Nutrition facts per brownie: 130 calories, 5 g. total fat (2.5 g. saturated), 25 mg. cholesterol, 19 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, 1 g. fiber, 55 mg. sodium.

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