The Reader: Imogene Reppe, 81, active member of her Two Harbors, Minnesota, community
The Recipe: Chocolate-Mint Bars
The Story: This dessert has a reputation to preserve. Since receiving the recipe many years ago from her daughter, Becky, Reppe has made these bars often, especially for church functions. The fudgy brownie layer is iced twice: first with a thin, sweet, and minty topping, and then with a rich chocolate glaze. The bars have become acclaimed enough to earn their own heart-shaped serving platter for church gatherings. In fact, when Reppe attempts to make another dessert, the church kitchen staff teases, “Sorry, but we can’t use these. Only your Chocolate-Mint Bars will do.” But all the chocolate and butter in the recipe concerned Reppe, who wanted to serve a more healthful treat while preserving its velvety, rich appeal.
The Dilemma: Reppe’s Chocolate-Mint Bars are decadently divine for a reason: Her recipe employs nearly a half cup of butter in each layer of this three-tiered dessert. Factor in four eggs and plenty of chocolate chips along with all that butter, and one serving of Reppe’s bars contains about 17 total grams of fat, including 10 grams of saturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, one bar supplies two-thirds of the daily saturated fat allotment for someone on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
The Solution: We started by halving the butter in each layer, shaving six grams of fat (including nearly four grams of saturated fat) and 55 calories per serving. We combined two whole eggs with one-half cup of egg substitute to offer enough liquid and structure to the brownie layer. Changing the number of eggs, along with reducing the butter, dropped about 40 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. And reducing the semisweet chocolate chips from one cup to three-quarters cup trimmed a few more calories per portion.
The Feedback: Reppe took the lightened bars along with her originals to a panel of taste testers at her local beauty shop without telling them which bar was the revised version. She was pleasantly surprised when several women noted the lightened dessert offered more chocolate-mint flavor than the heavier version. “This light brownie is as good as the heavy version my friends like,” she says. “I can’t wait to take this healthier dessert to my next community function.”
Before | After
Calories per serving
339 | 264
16.7g | 8.7g
Percent of total calories
44 percent | 30 percent