Brownies are one of the most popular baked items in the world, especially with chocolate lovers. Very few things can match the moist, chocolatey sweetness that brownies have. Revered for the soft quality with an extra heavy dose of chocolate, that moistness is largely aided by vegetable oil. Half a cup of vegetable oil goes into a recipe that makes 12 to 16 brownies so they pack quite a lot of it. Well if you ever wondered how to make brownies without all that vegetable oil we have a few suggestions that can work wonderfully for you.
The brownie or chocolate brownie is a form of baked sheet cake that comes in other cakey or fudge-like varieties. The brownie was developed in the United States in the late 19tjh century but grew to popularity in the early part of the 20th century. Brownies are made from flour, chocolate, cocoa powder, vegetable oil, sugar and may also include nuts. Icing, cream cheese and many other ingredients are used as toppings for brownies. Brownies are popular consumed as is, with milk, a la mode (with ice cream) or sprinkled with icing sugar. What you can use as a substitute for the vegetable oil in your brownies will depend on the reasons you are avoiding vegetable oil and what you have available to you.
If you’re avoiding vegetable oil because of the fat and cholesterol then applesauce is likely your answer. It makes a great vegetable oil substitute and will surprisingly not greatly alter the taste and texture of your brownies. Applesauce is made by boiling down apples. There are versions which include the peels as well as those that exclude them. The apples are pureed and may have added spices such as cinnamon, allspice and lemon juice as an acidifier. Make sure to use the same amount of applesauce as vegetable oil in the recipe. This will ensure you have a flavour and texture match to vegetable oil brownies.
If your problem is not with oil but rather with vegetable oil itself you can turn your attention to olive oil. Olive oil will give you more monounsaturated fat which is healthier in terms of its effect on cholesterol. If this is your reason for switching from vegetable oil then you should consider light or extra virgin olive oil. The only thing to avoid is flavoured olive oil. You should use the same amount of olive oil as you have vegetable oil in the recipe. If you opt for the finer light and extra virgin olive oil you may find that the texture differs slightly. The refined oils may leave your brownies being less moist than vegetable oil brownies.
If you can’t get your hands on olive oil you can turn your attention to canola oil. Canola oil has lower fat and cholesterol content than vegetable oil. Canola oil has the added advantage of being more widely available than olive oil and applesauce. Canola does, unfortunately, have a unique taste when baked which can alter the flavour of your brownies. You don’t have to worry about canola oil affecting the texture of your brownies. When using canola oil instead of vegetable oil you can use one-cup canola oil to one cup vegetable oil ratio.
Another good substitute for vegetable oil in any baked good is melted butter. Butter makes a great replacement for flavour and texture but if you’re avoiding vegetable oil because of cholesterol then butter may not be the best substitute for you. You can take any advice on using melted butter to apply to melted margarine as well. You use the same amount of melted butter as there is vegetable oil in your brownie recipe. Butter does bring a rich flavour which works very well in baked goods but you may not be a fan of it. If so bake your brownies for an extra 2 to 5 minutes to correct this.
Another substitute for vegetable oil in brownies is fruit puree. You just have to discriminate in your choice of fruit puree as stronger flavoured fruits can change the flavour of your brownies. A safe fruit to use as puree is the banana. They are mild, moist and are very popular in baking for these qualities and more. You can use the same amount of puree as you would vegetable oil. If you’re pureeing your fruit you may have a mixture that is slightly thicker than what you get if you bought your puree. This may affect the texture of your brownies but not much.
This may come as a bit of a surprise to some but yoghurt also makes a great substitute for vegetable oil in brownies. Yoghurt is a great lower fat alternative to vegetable oil which works surprisingly well in brownies. While you can try to use flavoured or sweetened yoghurt in your brownies it is highly recommended that you stick to plain yoghurt that is not sweetened. As with all the other substitutes we have mentioned so far you can easily use the same amount of yoghurt as you would vegetable oil in the recipe. Yoghurt has the advantage of having less sugar than fruit puree if this is a problem for you.
Another rather surprising entry on the list of vegetable oil substitutes for brownies is cornstarch. Despite what you may think about it, this tricky substance makes a great substitute for vegetable oil in brownies. Less fat and sugar than the other substitutes on this list cornstarch may be the best substitute for vegetable oil in brownies if you are replacing vegetable oil for calorie or cholesterol reasons. All you have to do is mix the cornstarch with water and heat it slowly to achieve the consistency you need. Your target is the same amount of thickened cornstarch as the amount of vegetable oil.
A host of substitutes are available for vegetable oil in brownies. If you don’t mind using oil-based substitutes then canola oil, olive oil and butter will all work for you. If you’re avoiding oil you have fruit-based options of fruit puree or applesauce. If fruits don’t appeal to you you can turn to either yoghurt or cornstarch.