I Made Those Weight Watchers Brownies That Are Everywhere
I am very much of the "everything in moderation" mindset — I fill my plate with lots of veggies but fully embrace a fudgy brownie when the craving strikes. The internet, however, is rampant with "skinny" versions that guarantee the richness of a classic brownie in a less calorie-dense size.
Weight Watchers is the leader of this pack — there are hundreds of recipes that deliver just a few WW points but claim to taste as good as brownies that would be much higher point-wise due to containing more butter, eggs, and other ingredients that are high in points on the WW Freestyle program. So, are they any good? And are they really better for you than traditional brownies? As both a Registered Dietitian and a lover of baked goods, I was more than curious. Here are my results after baking two popular WW versions: chocolate brownies and lemon brownies.
A Weight Watchers Brownies Explainer
It's easy to see why brownies that are Weight Watchers-friendly are so well-loved. For those following the program, or even for those just trying to achieve their health goals, brownies that are a little "better for you" than most is appealing. What does that actually mean, though? Weight Watchers defines it as brownies with less sugar and unhealthy fats. So while a classic brownie might contain 8 points, the trimmed-down versions contain anywhere from 1 to 6 points, depending on the recipe.
I am not kidding when I say there are countless WW brownie recipes out there. It was hard to choose which ones to test because of this. So I decided to test two: classic chocolate brownies from the WW website that clock in at 3 points, and popular lemon brownies from the Recipes Diaries blog, which are 6 points.
Testing & Tasting the Cocoa Brownies
First up were chocolate brownies from the WW website. They contain surprisingly few ingredients — no eggs or butter, and cocoa powder instead of chocolate. You whisk cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt and some vanilla extract, pour the batter into a baking dish, and bake.
The trouble I had, though, was how little yogurt it called for. Stirring 1/2 cup of a wet ingredient into 2 cups of a dry ingredient doesn't result in a brownie-like batter at all. Instead, it's almost like cement. The recipe says it will be quite thick, but that's an understatement. I had to keep stirring and stirring for all the dry ingredients to get incorporated into the yogurt and the batter to come together and when it finally did, it was crumbly. It then needed to be pressed down in the pan. After baking, the brownies aren't very pretty — the top is rough-looking rather than glossy, and they're only about 1/2-inch thick. Taste-wise, they're not bad. They definitely satisfy a chocolate craving, but in my opinion they don't satisfy the craving for a moist, fudgy brownie.
Get the recipe: Cocoa Brownies
Testing & Tasting the Lemon Brownies
Calling these "brownies" isn't really accurate, as they're more like lemon cake bars. The list of ingredients doesn't really make you think they're a trimmed-down version at all, as they still contain butter and sugar. Both are beaten with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Then two eggs are added, followed by lemon zest and juice, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. The batter is spread into a brownie pan and baked. Once done, a glaze made of lemon juice and powdered sugar is poured over the bars.
Although the batter for these lemon brownies wasn't as thick as the batter for the cocoa brownies, it was still too thick to pour and tough to spread in an even layer. The brownies also sunk in the middle of the pan, which caused the icing to pool in the center a bit. They tasted exactly how I expected them to taste — lemon cake with lemon glaze — and the texture was crumbly but moist.
Get the recipe: Skinny Lemon Brownies
Are Weight Watchers Brownies Actually More Wholesome than Traditional Ones?
While these brownies have less sugar than classic recipes, both still contain a fair amount of it, so if sugar is something you're trying to be mindful of, they're not much better than a classic brownie. The cocoa brownies did cut the eggs and butter and replaced them with low-fat yogurt — which sacrificed texture but trimmed them down to 3 WW points. The lemon brownies, however, really are no different than a traditional recipe for brownies or lemon cake bars. They contain a whole stick of butter and plenty of sugar in both the batter and the glaze. They're tasty, so I understand why they're popular, but they're pretty high in points (6) too.
If you enjoy these trimmed-down recipes, definitely don't hesitate to bake and enjoy them, but as for me personally, I have yet to be convinced they're the miracle they claim to be.
Have you tried these WW brownie recipes? Is there another recipe you like instead that I should try next?