Dessert alchemy

This week, I discovered that I have slightly high cholesterol. “Right,” was my response, “so what does that mean?” “You need to cut down on red meat, chocolate, salt and dairy.” Cue stunned silence. As a girl who has been known to audibly whoop at the prospect of a blue steak, loves Lindt 80%, salivates over salt and vinegar Kettle Chips and can go a little crazy over Cornish Yarg, this was a disaster. I take my health very seriously but after five days of lentil-based meals (really) in the hope that I could wean myself off a 30-year dedication to gastronomy, I decided to investigate the alternatives. Starting with sweet stuff. I was alarmed to find that there are, apparently, no chocolate bars with low enough saturated fat to make them acceptable in my new life regime. I began to realise that if I wanted a healthy alternative, I would have to create it myself. There followed two hours of frenzied Googling, letting the phone ring and refusing to acknowledge defeat. Despite several internet destinations wasting my time with steamed fruit puddings (lovely, but really – NOT THE SAME!), I found a chocolate brownie recipe that substituted fat with…prunes. The humble fruit is high in fibre, low in fat and stodgy enough to deceive even the most demanding brownie connoisseur (he is sitting on the sofa now, looking sceptical). Made with egg whites, a small amount of flour and cocoa (it simply isn’t safe to have chocolate lurking around the house), the instructions assured me that guests will ‘never know the difference’. Further trawling revealed that even Delia Smith has a prune brownie recipe. “There you are!” I exclaimed with barely concealed delight: “Even Delia’s a fan!” This aroused a modicum of interest but reading on, we discovered that QD (Queen Delia) soaks her prunes in Armagnac first (she is a wicked woman), thus marginally reducing their health-giving properties. So after some serious consideration, I’ve settled on the perfect healthy recipe and now I’m off to bake. I’ll let you know how I get on. *skips off to the kitchen with glee, possibly never to return. Or at least not without chocolate around her mouth…*

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