The BFG… Big Friendly Gateau

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Black Forest Brownie Stack

There are times I can be completely and utterly dense. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that “Errr…” moment when the blindly obvious really doesn’t make sense or come to mind. I remember sitting in one of my GCSE exams, many years ago, thinking how on earth you spelt “the”. Yes, how to spell “the”, blindly obvious, simple and oh so basic, but I remember sitting there for what seemed like 5 minutes trying to work it out. Please tell me I’m not the only one, please!

The same thing happened when I started seeing “BFG” on dessert menus. Now for anyone who didn’t avidly read Roald Dahl as a child, and an adult, this probably hasn’t happened to you. Whilst for 99.9% of the population would say “Oh yes, Black Forest gateaux” for me it was “Yippee, someone’s created a Road Dahl BFG themed dessert. Cool!” Oh dear… It really did take placing a BFG in front of me to realise that we were talking about Black Forest gateaux; the cake dessert of vivid childhood memories.

There is a little special place in my heart of Saturday morning shopping in Coventry City centre, with my Mum and visiting Druckers for a cake stop. Going through the little bakery counter and heading upstairs to the dimly light café with wicker based chairs and little pots of sugar. Coffee and a juice would always be accompanied by a slice of black forest gateaux with the end covered in chocolate sprinkles and a squirt of cream topped with a cherry. Isn’t it amazing the little details you remember from your childhood?

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Black Forest Brownie Stack

So, when we got home from our Christmas holiday and I got stuck back into baking, I had a quick trawl through what was left in the cupboards and fridge. I had had a plan to make marshmallows with brandy soaked cherries but it never happened. However, I had made a start and set the cherries soaking and popped them in the fridge for safe keeping. Lots of things came to mind to use them with, and I had toyed with clafoutis, but I hadn’t enough cherries. With the health kick being back in full swing after Christmas indulgence, something full of butter and sugar really wasn’t on the cards either. Then I remembered a conversation I’d had at a Weight Watchers meeting and the lady had told me she’d been using low-fat mayonnaise as a fat substitute in her baking… Get in!

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Black Forest Brownie Stack

I’ve made brownies many, many times before and I have a tried and trusted recipe that I’ve honed over the years, but it is on the buttery side and I thought it would be nice to create something a little healthier. After all, a decent brownie is quite rich and you don’t really need a massive piece to get the taste and the chocolate hit you’re looking for. So I had a scour of the wonderful world of the internet for baking with mayonnaise.

My biggest concern about switching the butter for mayonnaise was the taste. I was a little worried that it would taint the chocolate flavour, so I employed a little magic that I use with my chocolate cake; add a shot of fresh coffee. The coffee enriches the chocolate flavour and helps to get rid of any tang of mayonnaise. I also substituted some of the caster sugar I would normally use, with some dark muscovado sugar, again to enrich the flavour and give the brownies the nice dark brown colour of the black forest gateaux I remember.

Now, if you keep it there the brownies aren’t too bad on the fat side; they work out quite good on the Weight Watchers ProPoints front, and if you’re watching what you eat it’s probably best not to get any further with the recipe. However, if you have some weekly points left or you’re not that bothered about keeping the recipe on the healthier side, then my Other Half can whole-heartedly contest to the Black Forest Brownie stacks being pretty darn tasty!

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Black Forest Brownie Stack

Black Forest Brownie Stacks
Prep time
Cook time
Dark chocolate, brandy soaked cherries and low fat mayonnaise combine for these luscious lower fat brownie stacks. Weight Watchers ProPoints
3 PPts per slice, if no cherries and cut into 16 pieces and not assembled
4PPts per slice, if includes cherries and cut into 16 pieces and not assembled
Serves: 6 stacks or 16 individual brownies
  • 85g 70% Cocoa Chocolate
  • 85g Plain flour
  • 25g Cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 50g Dark muscovado sugar
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • ½ Instant coffee granules
  • 2 tbsp Buttermilk, or 2 tbsp milk soured with 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 Egg, medium
  • 100g Low fat mayonnaise
  • 100g Dried cherries soaked in 2 tbsp Brandy or Kirsch
  • 50ml Double cream, whipped
  • Black cherry compote or jam
  • Fresh cherries
For the Brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C (fan) and line a brownie tray or 8 inch square cake tin, with baking parchment.
  2. Add the chocolate to a large heatproof bowl, place over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until all the chocolate has melted. Alternatively melt in the microwave. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift the plain flour, cocoa powder and bicarb of soda.
  4. Add the muscovado and caster sugars to the melted chocolate and stir through.
  5. Add the vanilla extract, coffee granules, buttermilk or soured milk to the melted chocolate and whisk together.
  6. In a small bowl gently whisk the egg, then mix in the mayonnaise.
  7. Add the egg and mayonnaise mixture to the melted chocolate mixture, and stir until well combined and is silky in texture.
  8. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the plain flour mixture and fold in until well combined.
  9. Fold in soaked cherries.
  10. Pour brownie mixture into lined baking tin and spread evenly with a palette knife.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a crumb. This should be moist but not sticky.
  12. Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting. Once cooled the brownies can be sliced if not being assembled.
Assembling the Stacks
  1. Using a 6cm diameter, round pastry cutter, cut out 12 brownie rounds.
  2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1cm french nozzle with the whipped double cream. The cream should be whipped so that it is stiff enough to be piped. Add a little vanilla extract and caster sugar to the cream when whipping to sweeten.
  3. Pipe a ring of small stars around the top of half the brownie rounds.
  4. Fill the centre of the piped ring with a teaspoon of black cherry compote or jam.
  5. Place another brownie round on top of the piped cream and gently press down.
  6. Pipe a second ring of cream stars around the top and fill with another teaspoon of compote or jam.
  7. Pipe a large cream star on top of the compote and top with a fresh cherry.
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
Don't be put off by the additional of the mayonnaise instead of butter, you really can't tell the difference, and it brings out the flavours of the chocolate and cherries.

These brownies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or can be frozen for 1 month. When assembled, keep the stacks refrigerated and eat within 1 day.

As I’ve wanted to experiment with low fat baking and mayonnaise for a while now, I’m entering these into this month’s Our Growing Edge, hosted by me!

Link up your food challenge to Our Growing Edge - January 2014 hosted by Crumbs and Corkscrews

They are also joining January’s Treat Petite hosted by Kat at The Baking Explorer, and this month’s theme is free form and as these are free from butter and low fat, they fit the bill!

Link up your recipe of the week


  1. says

    I love that you tagged BFG on this post–I just had a reunion with Roald Dahl two weeks ago for my children’s literature exam reading list (yes, that exists! Believe in it, human beans), so this has been a total nostalgia-reviving post for me. Loving the brownie stacks, too; I believe Dahl would totally approve.

    • says

      Oh My!! I love children’s literature, and would definitely quite happily sit an exam in it. I love Dahl and love reading my favourite children’s books, even now :).

    • says

      Thank you 🙂 The flavours certainly compliment the cherry and the bonus is that they’re healthy(er) than regular brownies. The mayonnaise really works!

    • says

      Thank you Julie. They’re definitely a grown up treat but without too much of the naughtiness. I’ve convinced myself that as they’re lower fat I can have more than one 😉

    • says

      Hehe! Glad I’m not the only one 🙂 I was really unsure about the mayo, but it certainly works; definitely will be trying mayo instead of butter in other recipes.

  2. says

    Haha, to think BFG desserts isn’t denseness, it’s pure creativity! You’re onto something there. And the brownie stacks are cute as a button!

    • says

      Knew you’d think the same way Bryt 🙂 Have you created anything BFG related yet? I’m going to have to re-read now and think of something to create x


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