For many it seems the idea of brownies made with mayonnaise ranges from confusing to repulsive; although it of course doesn’t help if the person in question hates mayonnaise to begin with. Yet when you consider that the main two ingredients of mayonnaise are oil and egg yoke it makes perfect sense. I’ve seen these sorts of recipe before, which use mayonnaise to replace either the fat or both the fat and the eggs in baking but despite the obvious reasoning behind the substitution I’d never felt sure enough to try them. Why would you bother baking with something odd like mayonnaise when you could bake the normal way with butter or oil?
The reason most frequently given is one of a lower fat content, or else one of convenience if you don’t have fresh butter or eggs to hand. The former is the selling point for a new campaign from Hellmann’s show casing the versatility of mayonnaise as an ingredient. Their recipe for “Posh Brownies” made with full fat mayonnaise is 55% lower in saturated fat than if made with butter. The campaign also includes recipes for “Loved Up Mash”, 85% less saturated fat when made with mayonnaise than with butter, “Fishy Delishy”, a topping for baked fish at 40 calories per teaspoon, and “Paradise Pasta Salad”, a variation on which I’m sure many have been eating for years. You’ve probably seen the adverts for these popping up recently.
Yet regardless of the low-fat claims I still wouldn’t have been drawn to make mayonnaise brownies at home; assuming 55% less fat probably meant 55% less taste. However when Emily Dean of Frank PR offered to send me a Hellmann’s brownie kit to try their recipe myself I was intrigued, and the next morning I was delivered a beautiful bright pink bowl full of baking ingredients, and a jar of mayonnaise.
In order to get a more varied view on the brownies I decided I’d take them into work and ask my colleagues what they thought of them too, but it didn’t seem fair to ask them to judge without an alternative to judge against. Hellmann’s big claim centred around the brownies being 55% less saturated fat than if made with butter so I decided to do exactly that. I would make two batches of brownies, using exactly the same recipe and exactly the same ingredients, bar one; for one batch I would replace the listed mayonnaise with an equal quantity of melted unsalted butter.
A couple of notes before I reveal the results; firstly, I’m not a baker, so my decision to replace the mayonnaise with the same quantity of butter was based only on those recipes I’d read elsewhere. Most brownie recipes I’ve seen, including my current favourite, use equal quantities of melted butter and melted chocolate, and I wonder if I should have upped the butter by 30 grams in my modified Hellmann’s recipe to match this. Secondly, my choice to use unsalted butter was again based on other brownie recipes I’d read, but I wonder if I should have added a pinch of salt or used salted butter to match the salt content of the mayonnaise. Finally, and possibly most importantly, the brownies made with butter seemed to take slightly longer to bake than those made with mayonnaise, which meant I ended up giving them 10 minutes longer in the oven. It is likely that this contributed to the slightly drier, more cakey texture of this batch, which may have skewed the results towards the mayonnaise brownies.
With that said the results were still very interesting. Most commented that if they hadn’t been asked to choose they wouldn’t have known there was a difference between the two batches, and I certainly had fun listening to people’s guesses for the “secret ingredient”. Suggestions ranged from nutmeg, chilli, or a different type of chocolate to my favourite that one batch might contain “a bit of pot”. Some found the mayonnaise brownies gooier, whilst others thought they were more like a cake and that the butter brownies had a gooier, more brownie-like texture. Interestingly, someone commented that they found the mayonnaise brownies sweeter than the others, although they were both made with the exact same quantity of sugar.
Over all the mayonnaise brownies came out a clear winner with 12 out of the 18 votes cast in their favour. When I finally revealed the “secret ingredient” there were mixed reactions. For some the idea of brownies made with mayonnaise was still repulsive, even though they’d preferred that batch when they hadn’t known. Other’s found it interesting to have their preconceptions about mayonnaise as a savoury ingredient challenged. There was certainly a lot of discussion when I revealed that the mayonnaise brownies contained 55% less saturated fat than those made with butter, and I had several requests for the recipe.
So there you go, mayonnaise brownies it seems can be just as delicious, if not more so, than regular brownies and at 55% less saturated fat than those made with butter I’d definitely recommend giving this recipe a try for yourself.
- 40g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 25g cocoa powder
- 140g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 3 medium eggs
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (the original recipe called for vanilla “essence”)
- 110g Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
- 55g walnuts, finely chopped
Lightly grease a 23cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.
Put the chocolate into a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of hot (or just simmering) water and leave until melted.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until slightly thickened. Whisk in the chocolate mixture.
Sift the flour with the baking powder and cocoa into the bowl, and gently fold into the mixture together with the mayonnaise and walnuts (dust the walnuts in a little flour to help stop them sinking).
Pour into the prepared tin and bake at fan140C/160C/Gas 3 for about 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. (As you want brownies to be slightly squidgy I don’t normally use the skewer method and just try to judge by how done the top looks and how it feels when gently pressed).
Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.