Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

Spinach Brownies Have a Long History of Scandal, But None Are as Delectable as These

by 
Rebecca Treon
August 17, 2021

What is it about people that we love a scandal? A juicy bit of gossip can be titillating, sometimes shocking, and highly entertaining. Psychologists say that our addiction to scandal can even be healthy within reason, allowing us to live vicariously through the people involved, getting satisfaction from their punishment (or being glad when they get away with it). Sometimes gossip leaves us feeling superior or simply lets us escape the doldrums of our own lives and have a little less FOMO. If you need more proof of our love for getting the dirt on the personal lives of celebs, consider that People magazine, which rehashes the successes and pitfalls of the famous, is a world-wide bestseller.

Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian Jerry, is no stranger to scandal. The couple (which now has one of Hollywood’s longer-lasting marriages — almost 22 years) started out embroiled in it: She was barely off the plane from her Italian honeymoon with her first husband when she started dating the comedian. She soon ditched her spouse and within a year was remarried to the star of the eponymous ‘90s hit show. 

Almost a decade later, Jessica Seinfeld, who by 2007 was a mom to three kids under 10, published her first cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. Released by HarperCollins in January of 2008, the book featured recipes to hide pureed fruits and vegetables inside kids’ meals. Shortly after publication, another cookbook author, Missy Chase Lapine, sued the Seinfelds for copyright and trademark infringement. Lapine had published her book, The Sneaky Chef, just six months before Seinfeld’s with Running Press, but not before unsuccessfully shopping her book manuscript around to several other would-be publishers, including HarperCollins. 

The following lawsuit kept the Seinfelds embroiled in court for almost three years, during which Jerry Seinfeld went on the Late Show with David Letterman and called Lapine a slew of insults like, “angry and hysterical,” a “wacko,” a “stalker,” and a “nut job,” earning him a defamation suit from Lapine. Jessica Seinfeld defended her work, saying that neither of them had invented the idea of hiding healthy stuff in their kids’ meals, that the idea had been around for decades and was nothing new, and that her recipes came from her own trial and error in the kitchen after trying to convince her own children to eat better.

Ultimately, U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain sided with the celebs, dismissing all claims against Jessica Seinfeld, stating that there was no evidence of copying and the books were “very different.” Lapine appealed the decision, but it was denied and the defamation claim was thrown out. Seinfeld’s book went on to become a bestseller, while Lapine’s did not. Seinfeld has since written four more cookbooks encouraging healthy eating and dedicated her time to philanthropic efforts with her foundation Baby Buggy/Good + Foundation, which donate gently used baby essentials to families in need. Lapine has since written several more ‘sneaky’ cookbooks incorporating produce into meals and works as an integrative wellness coach.

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One thing both Seinfeld and Lapine’s books have in common is that both have a recipe for brownies that include stealth vegetables. Lapine’s recipe includes two eggs and almost a stick of butter, while Seinfeld’s includes egg whites only and a measly 2 tablespoons of margarine. Lapine’s recipe uses a blend of whole wheat and white flour and oat bran, while Seinfeld’s calls for simply white flour. Lapine uses her “Purple Puree,” a blend of blueberries and spinach, while Seinfeld uses spinach and carrot purees in hers. 

The thing is, though, brownies gonna brownie, and making them “healthy” runs the risk of making them very un-tasty. Any ingredient in any recipe should be there to enhance flavor and experience, and in this case, the spinach in these brownies does just that.

Without getting too science-y (actually, screw it, let’s get science-y), here, the spinach makes the end result super moist and tender without making it greasy, as adding extra butter or oil would. Also, there’s no additional sugar like there is when you use a fruit puree, which means that the recipe stays true to its necessary ratios of fats to sugar. That gives a good brownie their two hallmarks: dense chew, and a shiny shattery top. 

So, without further ado, we present you with some truly yummy spinach brownies. They’re so delicious, it’s almost scandalous. 

Scandal-Free Spinach Brownies

Recipe by Jessicarobyn Keyser
 | 
 | 
Makes 12-15 large brownies or 24 small ones

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter (2oz, or half a stick)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps vegetable oil

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps water

1 cup packed light brown sugar (215g)

1 cup granulated sugar (200g)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (248g)

1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder (35g)

1 tsp baking powder (optional: add for cakier brownies, omit for fudgier brownies)

1 tbsp instant espresso or coffee (optional but recommended)

 

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

5 oz (142g – 1 box) Fifth Season spinach

 

6 oz (170g) dark or unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

 

1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, walnuts/pecans, or a mix (optional)

Recipe by Jessicarobyn Keyser
 | 
 | 
Makes 12-15 large brownies or 24 small ones

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter (2oz, or half a stick)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps vegetable oil

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps water

1 cup packed light brown sugar (215g)

1 cup granulated sugar (200g)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (248g)

1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder (35g)

1 tsp baking powder (optional: add for cakier brownies, omit for fudgier brownies)

1 tbsp instant espresso or coffee (optional but recommended)

 

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

5 oz (142g – 1 box) Fifth Season spinach

 

6 oz (170g) dark or unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

 

1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, walnuts/pecans, or a mix (optional)

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter (2oz, or half a stick)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps vegetable oil

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps water

1 cup packed light brown sugar (215g)

1 cup granulated sugar (200g)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (248g)

1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder (35g)

1 tsp baking powder (optional: add for cakier brownies, omit for fudgier brownies)

1 tbsp instant espresso or coffee (optional but recommended)

 

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

5 oz (142g – 1 box) Fifth Season spinach

 

6 oz (170g) dark or unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

 

1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, walnuts/pecans, or a mix (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F, and prepare a 9x13 baking pan with a parchment sling and baking spray.

2. In a saucepan or shallow pot, combine butter, oil, water, and both sugars, and whisk over medium heat until butter is melted and sugars have dissolved. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and espresso powder (if using) for one full minute. Set aside.

4. Process eggs plus egg yolks, spinach, vanilla, and salt in a blender until completely smooth.

5. Place chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl, and pour over the hot sugar/oil mixture. Oil may have separated; that’s OK. Whisk together until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated, 2-3 minutes. 

6. While continuing to whisk the warm chocolate mixture, carefully and slowly drizzle in the spinach puree. This must be done slowly to ensure that the chocolate does not seize and that the eggs do not scramble.

7. Once all liquid ingredients are fully incorporated, whisk in dry ingredients. Fold in any optional inclusions (nuts, chocolate, etc.).

8. Scrape batter into the prepared baking pan, and bake on the center rack in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once midway to ensure even baking. A toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out with damp crumbs but no discernible batter.

9. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely (2hrs) before cutting. To cut, carefully lift the parchment sling out of the pan and place on a cutting board.

10. Makes 12-15 large or 24 small brownies. If using inclusions, it’s recommended that you chill the pan first (45min): these brownies are exceptionally fudgy and chewy, and the inclusions may tear the brownies if not cold and firm. Bring back to room temp before enjoying.

A warning: While these brownies are baking and cooling, they may smell a little funky. That’s the spinach, and it’s OK! It will wear off, and the brownies will taste nothing like what you smell as they’re coming together. They’ll just taste like damn good brownies.

About the Author

Rebecca Treon

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