I bake brownies all the time because they are such a crowd pleaser, but every time that I bake a batch, someone will tell me that they just have to pass on something so rich. Brownies are known for being decadent and delivering a big dose of chocolate in every bite. As much as people love chocolate, it is understandable that you may not want to overindulge your chocolate cravings every day. These Applesauce Brownies are not completely guilt-free, but they are definitely a little bit lighter than your average brownie recipe and could easily qualify as an everyday treat.
The brownies have less butter than a traditional brownie recipe and include a generous amount of applesauce. I don’t like to think of the applesauce as a “butter replacement” because it isn’t a replacement for butter. It doesn’t add the richness or texture that butter does, so recipes that are heavy on the applesauce won’t have the same texture as those that use a lot of butter. What the applesauce can do, however, is add a lot of moisture to a recipe and that is exactly what it does here. These brownies are dense and moist, and that moisture gives them a richness that you wouldn’t expect to find in a lower fat brownie recipe. Try to use an all natural applesauce that doesn’t have too much added sugar.
Since I was keeping things on the lighter side, I opted to use unsweetened cocoa powder (regular and dutch process are both fine in this recipe) instead of melted chocolate. You get a lot of flavor from a relatively small amount of cocoa, so these brownies have a dark color and an almost dark chocolate flavor. I did want to make sure I put in enough chocolate, however, so I added a generous amount of chocolate chips to the batter. This amps up the chocolate flavor even more and adds just the right amount of decadence to the finished brownie.
These brownies will keep well for several days because they are so moist. I like to dust them with cocoa powder just before serving to give them a nice finished look.
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
cocoa powder, for finishing
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Add in the applesauce and sift in the cocoa powder, then mix until all of the ingredients are well combined.
Stir in the flour and salt, mixing just until the flour is incorporated and no streaks remain visible. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter) attached. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Dust brownies with cocoa powder before serving.
Makes 16 brownies