I wasn't convinced. After all, the foundations of these magazines are built around calorie counting and pound-dropping. Sometimes they make bogus arguments that veggie burgers taste just like hamburgers, or that 1/2 cup of nonfat frozen yogurt will satisfy your craving for a hot fudge sundae. Yeah, right. But when I read that Chocolatier had pronounced No Pudge! Brownies "thick, moist, and truly delicious," I finally sat up and took notice.
The No Pudge! mixes ($3.35) are available in four flavors: original fudge, cappuccino, mint, and raspberry. Once prepared, each two-inch brownie contains 120 calories and zero grams of fat. In order to make them all you have to do is add 2/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt, stir, and bake at 350°F for about half an hour.
The box warns that the batter will be very thick, and indeed it required quite a bit of arm strength to stir the yogurt and mix together smoothly. (I wondered how many calories I had burned doing so, and if I could subtract them from the brownie I was going to eat later.) Once the yogurt was fully incorporated, I spread the batter into an 8-inch square pan and popped it in the oven.
As I quickly cleaned up the kitchen—there really wasn't that much aside from a single bowl and a measuring cup—I couldn't resist licking the leftover batter off my wooden spoon. It tasted surprisingly yummy. True, there was no hint of butter (as there often is in homemade, full-fat brownie batter) but the No Pudge! mix was exceptionally fudgy and thick.
A few minutes later when I took my brownies out of the oven I was disappointed with their appearance. I think the best brownies are dense and gooey, with glossy tops and pudding-like interiors. The No Pudge! brownies looked more like dull, springy chocolate cake. I cast them aside to cool and briefly considered going out for ice cream for dessert instead.
It's a good thing I didn't. When I cut the brownies out of the pan, their insides proved to be everything I was hoping for, consistency-wise. They were moist and dark and a just a tiny bit sticky. Instead of cutting them into 12 small squares I opted for a heftier nine, and I would recommend that you do the same. It only raises the calorie count to 160, and each brownie is much more satisfying.
I took a still-warm bite and was, if not delighted, happily contented. The brownie was thick and chocolaty, with a rich, smooth mouthfeel. While they wouldn't hold a candle to homemade brownies, No Pudge! would certainly stand up against any supermarket mix—even those that require a stick of butter.