THIS REQUEST CAME IN FROM ALASKA. Tricia, who is a mom to three boys living waaay up north, sent me a link via Facebook to these decadent treats with a healthy sounding name, Golden Yam Brownies on Allrecipes. She asked if I could do a healthier makeover. “My family LOVES it but it’s loaded with butter and sugars! Can you help me?” ‘Kay! But here’s the problem. People love these things; They’ve got an average rating of four and a half stars, and 357 of them so far. I was a little worried. But with applesauce in hand and hope in our hearts, Phoebe and I hit the kitchen. We transformed these into kid-sized portions hearty enough to serve as breakfast muffins and did it in several shapes and sizes. Don’t worry though, you could still serve them for dessert — and they’re still better for you than the original.
In full disclosure, we tried to remake this recipe twice. The first time, we crashed and burned. And when I say we, I mean me plus this person. Phoebe is 3 1/2 and tried valiantly to stick up for the first batch, eating many more bites than the rest of us could muster but finally relented. “We need to make these again, more yummier.” Well said.
So we did.
This batch is much better and here’s how we did it, including the makeover notes here, plus some behind the scenes shenanigans below.
Original recipe: Golden Yam Brownies from Allrecipes.com
- Reduce sugar from 1 cup of both brown and white to 3/4 cup of each
- Substitute applesauce for 1/2 the butter
- Replace 1/2 cup of flour with oat bran
- Use organic ingredients
- Omit glaze entirely or sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving
- Instead of bars, use miniature muffins or cupcake pans in special shapes
- Add 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon to boost the flavor in lieu of sugar
And just a few notes about how we did it. We made two shapes, minis and zoo animals. Somewhat begrudgingly, I took the advice of the packaging that came with my new Nordic Ware Zoo muffin pan, and used a non-stick spray that included flour (which I’d never hear of before but found immediately at the grocery store.) I think I love this pan because it’s adorable and also, everything came out easily. If you wanted to serve these as dessert, it’d be nice to pipe white frosting along the ridges of the shapes so they’re more pronounced. These two designs turned out the best, without any extra icing.The original recipe included 2 cups of sweet potatoes (which they’re calling yams and let’s just say they’re interchangeable here to avoid debate.) That’s already a big vitamin D boost, but I tried to increase the amount the first time. That didn’t work out.
Also, the recipe suggests using a fine grater, but since I’m making a lot of homemade baby food these days, I had my Cuisinart handy on the counter and just used the regular blade to chop them up into small pieces, but not a paste (I didn’t add any water). That worked great. Biting into the finished muffins, you’d never guess that so many veggies were involved.GOLDEN YAM BROWNIES-TURNED-MUFFINS
I didn’t use any ground ginger because I didn’t have any, but think it would be delicious. Even fresh ginger would be a nice flavor (and nutritional) boost.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3.4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup oat bran
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- 2 cups finely ground or grated raw sweet potato
Preheat oven to 375 (If you’re making mini muffins, or even cupcakes, I find a slightly higher oven temperature works better than the standard 350. If you’re making bars, stick with 350.) Prepare muffin tins with butter and flour or a spray (see note above.)
In a standing mixer or big bowl with beaters, cream the butter and sugars until well mixed. Then add applesauce. Mix, then add eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Finish wet ingredients by mixing in vanilla. Place a metal sifter over the bowl and add all dry ingredients, flour through ginger if using. Last, hand fold in the grated sweet potato to avoid over-mixing.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins, 12-15 minutes for larger muffins (like our animal shapes). Check after 10 minutes; If the tops spring back immediately, take them out. Cool for a couple minutes then turn out on a wire rack. Add sifted powdered sugar on top, and serve immediately. Otherwise, store in an airtight container for 3-5 days. The freezer works well, too.