Posts tagged brownies

Fancify Friday: Fork Brownies

I only wish I’d thought of this one first!

Chocolate Vanilla Mousse cake

When I was served this impressive dark chocolate and vanilla mousse cake at a recent reception at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, my thought was simply, “Oh yeah, I can do this at home!” (The design, that is.)

Fork browniesHere’s how you can too:

  1. Plain plate–the bigger the better!
  2. Place a fork and/or spoon in the middle of the plate.
  3. Find a sieve with the finest mesh possible.
  4. Add powdered cocoa to the middle of the sieve. Gently tap the side of the sieve to create a pattern on the plate.
  5. Take off the fork and/or spoon.
  6. Place your brownie on the plate.

This is a perfect kid assignment–prepping the plates for the brownies.

 

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Braces busting brownies

Someone waiting to eat her first caramel in 18 months.

Someone waiting to eat her first caramel in 18 months.

This week my tween got her braces off (round one at least). To celebrate we made brownies featuring her favorite ingredient that’s been on the no-no list for the past 18 months–caramel.

 

You can use either individual caramels, or I found these handy caramel “bits” at Target.

 

Recipe for Coconut Caramel Brownies

 

Ingredients

1 family size brownie mix or your favorite DIY 9×13″ brownie mix

2 cups individual caramels or caramel chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds–or both!)

Handy way to use caramels--no unwrapping required

Handy way to use caramels–no unwrapping required

3/4 cup coconut (I toast mine before baking)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. hey, we’re celebrating)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix up the brownie according to package directions.
  3. Line a 9×13″ baking dish with aluminum foil and then coat generously with cooking spray.
  4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and spread evenly to the corners.
  5. Bake the brownie bottom for about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the caramel until smooth. I put the caramel in the microwave at 30 intervals, stirring after each time. Usually, it takes around 90 seconds.
  7. Remove the brownie bottom from the oven and add caramel in glops followed by nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
  8. Top the caramel with the remaining chocolate. Don’t worry if the top isn’t even.
  9. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely before cutting.

Warning: Eat with braces at your own risk.

Layering coconut caramel brownies

 

 

 

 

 

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Lowfat, 2-ingredient brownies

Pumpkin browniesI wasn’t expecting much when I read about Yum Yum Brownies on Hungry Girl. Canned pumpkin plus chocolate cake mix. Sounded like Thanksgiving mixed with Ghirardelli. Eww. But, I had to give it a try–I mean, there’s chocolate in it. Add to that, I happen to love canned pumpkin–I never had it as a kid so now it seems like almost a delicacy (go ahead, laugh).

 

Looking online I discovered chocolate-pumpkin desserts have quite a following. I opted for Cookies & Cups version–one family-size box brownie mix and one can Libby’s Pumpkin. That’s it. Well, almost. I tweaked the recipe just a little bit.

 

A few notes:

  • The brownies end up with a fudge-like consistency. Nothing wrong with that! I cut them into squares and put them in the fridge. I think they’re better cold.
  • If you didn’t know there was pumpkin in the brownies, you’d wouldn’t guess it.
  • My tween loved these brownies–maybe because she convinced me to let her have them for breakfast, “They’re healthy mom, right?”

 

Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes + baking

 

Ingredients

1 family-sized box brownies (my fav is Duncan Hines)

1 can pumpkin puree

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl blend together the brownie mix and the pumpkin puree with a hand-held blender. Now, here’s where I had to do a few tweaks–I also added in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon chocolate extract.
  3. Coat a 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Spread the batter onto the baking dish and cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

 

Pumpking brownies with a bite

 

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A week’s worth of chocolate

Did you know chocolate is a vegetable? That’s right. Explaining her recent study results, which showed that people who get a daily dose of chocolate are slimmer than those who don’t, Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego said, “It’s my favorite vegetable.” Dr. Golomb cited chocolate’s antioxidant prowess when comparing it to other vegetables. She also relayed that chocoholics those in the study who ate chocolate each day had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who didn’t.

Well, of course, I want to make sure that we’re all getting enough vegetables in our diet so here’s a week’s worth of recipes so you can get your fill.

Monday

Whole wheat chocolate yogurt loaf

Keep 100% whole wheat bread moist by adding in plenty of Greek yogurt and chocolate, of course!

Tuesday

Blueberry-spinach chocolate brownies

Spinach-Blueberry Brownies

These brownies have a boost of extra nutrition from a blueberry-spinach puree that you mix in the batter. My teen loves these brownies even though they do turn out a bit softer than your straight-chocolate recipe.

Wednesday

Easy peanut butter cups (no bake!)

These homemade peanut butter cups are easy to put together. Thanks for the idea Martha and Me.

Thursday

Chocolate chocolate chip cookies

From Garlic Girl, add cocoa to your chocolate chip cookies for a extra boost of the good stuff.

Friday

Chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake

My signature dessert that I try to make infrequently because it’s soo tempting. (I should point out that technically you should be sticking to around an ounce of daily chocolate so you’d need to be nibbling your cheesecake slice.)

Saturday

Lemon Ginger Shortbread S’mores

Chocolate and lemon make such a surprisingly perfect combo–add a toasty marshmallow topping to make this updated kid classic from Good.Food.Stories.

Sunday

No cook cocoa granola bites

End your week with these simple treats that have both cocoa powder and mini-chocolate chips (although feel free to add the regular size if you feel like you haven’t been getting enough chocolate in your diet).

*Special thanks to the National Institutes of Health for funding this study and others like it. Dr. Golomb mentioned she needed to do additional studies. The big question: WHERE CAN I SIGN UP?

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Holiday sweets round-up

From simple cookies to rich cakes, here are some ideas to make your holidays a little sweeter.

Cookies

Viennese cookie

Viennese Cookies

For all of the flavor of Linzer cookies without the work, try check out this version I came up with for Wandering Educators.

10-minute Fancy Cookies

Make these beautiful cookies in minutes to give away to neighbors–or to eat with your kids.

Chocolate Nutella cookies

Loaded with hazelnut flavor, Nutella is one of my favorite holiday ingredients (okay, I use it all year, but around Christmas I buy it in bulk.)

Pretzel S’mores

Last minute school party that you need to take treats to? These whip up in minutes and kids love ‘em.

Brownies and Bars

Mudgie's Brownie Waffle

Mudgie’s Deli Brownie Waffles

These dessert waffles are great with berry sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cheese Bars

Make a pan of these sweets to serve at your next holiday party.

Mini Cheesecakes

These little treats pack big, creamy flavor!


Cakes

Mmmm...cheesecake

Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

This is a Christmas tradition around our house.

Chocolate Upside Down Cake

You literally throw the ingredients together for this dessert that tastes like German Chocolate cake.

Easy Chocolate Cake

Add mint chips to the batter to make this cake even tastier.

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Homemade gift idea #2: Nutella hot fudge

Nutella takes hot fudge to the next level

Nutella makes anything it touches creamier. And I’m still convincing myself that it’s somehow better for you than your average chocolate spread, what with all the ground hazelnuts in there. So when I was throwing together a homemade hot fudge sauce to dress up brownies I was serving to guests I figured mixing in a little hazelnut might make the sauce even better. Granted, it’s hard to mess up a hot fudge sauce, but the Nutella did exactly what I’d hoped–upped the richness of the flavor and texture of the hot fudge.

The best part? Well, besides having to do a little quality testing yourself on the sauce, that is. You can pour the melted sauce into containers to give to friends as gifts. As with the berry sauce (homemade gift idea #1), you might want to attach a couple recipes with the sauce, like the best brownies ever or even brownie waffles.

Nutella hot fudge

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1 cup (easy to double, triple)


Ingredients

1/2 cup dark chocolate (I use semi-sweet Ghirardelli)

1/2 cup half and half

2 tablespoons Nutella

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate and the half and half in a glass measuring cup.
  2. Heat at medium-high in the microwave for 90 seconds. Stir vigorously.
  3. Keep heating the sauce at 20 second intervals until the chocolate begins to melt.
  4. After stirring the chocolate until smooth, add in the Nutella and continue stirring.
  5. Cool slightly before pouring on brownies.
  6. The sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long!) and should be heated before serving.

BONUS: Nutella is offering a giveaway until 12/31. You can enter here.

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Ghost brownies

Let the Halloween cooking…begin! I’ve just been waiting to start posting fun spooky recipes. I’ll have more all week (taffy tongues are up next). But I wanted to start with this recipe that’s easy to pull together fast. AND kids can help you with every step.

Here’s how to create this 3-D Halloween scene:

What you’ll need

1 pan family-sized brownies (boxed varieties are fine)

1 cup white melting chocolate

Handful of mini-chocolate chips or raisins (yup, ghost eyes)

1/8 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 toothpicks

Oval crackers (Flipz work well)

Putting the brownies together

  1. Line a 9×13” baking pan with waxed or parchment paper and then lightly coat it with cooking spray.
  2. Bake the brownie mix according to package directions.
  3. Allow the brownies to cool and then cut them into six to eight rectangular pieces.
  4. Refrigerate the sliced brownies for at least 1 hour (or put them in the freezer for 20 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes on high power. Stir, and then keep heating in 30-second intervals until it becomes smooth.
  6. Let the chocolate cool slightly and create ghost shapes using the back of a spoon on waxed paper (so FUN). Add eyes before the chocolate sets.
  7. Allow the chocolate ghosts to cool completely and then carefully remove.
  8. Dip one end of the crackers into the white chocolate, then cool. Using the tip of a toothpick and melted semi-sweet chocolate write ‘RIP’ on the mini-tombstones.
  9. Working with one brownie at a time, flip it over and then use a fork to create crumbs on top (the soil of your ghostly graveyard).
  10. Carefully press the ghosts into the brownie along with the cracker to create your spooky scene.

Happy Halloween baking everyone!

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Potato chip brownie sundaes

Here’s the set-up: my daughter “had” to have brownies for an activity and I found out about an hour before. That’s when I reach for the nearest box of brownies. Nothing fancy, but it comes together quickly.

Once she got to the activity, someone else had already brought the treat. We had a pan full of lackluster brownies that needed a little enlivening. Enter potato chips.

I’ve been noticing the trend toward adding saltiness to add depth and interest to desserts. I like it. Have you noticed the ‘in’ flavor right now for ice cream is salted caramel?

That was in the back of my mind when I created a rich chocolate sauce–bittersweet chocolate, a touch of semi-sweet melted into heavy cream (it was slightly bitter to compensate for the sweet brownies). I made a swath of the chocolate sauce on each person’s plate, followed with a brownie, topped with vanilla ice cream and crushed potato chips. The crunchy, saltiness of the potato chips pulled all the dish together. Yum.

If I were to do it again, and trust me, my kids are making requests, I think I’d process the potato chips in a food processor until the were fine and then roll the ice cream in the pieces.

Your turn–have you noticed sea salt making an appearance in desserts? Have you tried adding a hint of salt to chocolate to bring out its flavor?

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BEST brownies ever

I’ve been meaning to pass along this recipe for awhile now but it seemed like the right timing with Memorial Day this weekend (knockout picnic treat anyone?) and school coming to an end. Not only are these the BEST brownies, but my youngest daughter has a chocoholic teacher so I’m planning on making a batch of these just for her. And if you’re looking for more ideas to thank your child’s teacher check out these ideas courtesy of Motherboard.

So what makes these so good? Chocolate. I know, that’s obvious, but we’re not talking just cocoa powder here or gobs of flour, the main ingredient in these brownies is the good stuff. And there are layers of chocolate–with the butter, mixed with the flour, the eggs. As with the best desserts–in my sweet tooth opinion–they’re better on day two when they’ve had a chance to densify (that’s a word we’ve invented just for these brownies; they’re airy on day #1, dense with dark chocolate day #2).

I bake these in a parchment-lined pan so I can easily lift them out and make perfect cuts and shapes with the brownies.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate

1 ¼ cups sugar

12 Tablespoons butter

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons cocoa powder, Espresso powder, or black onyx powder

½ cup chocolate chips (optional, cuz there’s not enough chocolate already)

1 cup walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the chocolate, sugar and butter together in a large glass bowl in the microwave, heating it at half power in 1-minute intervals. Cook just until you can stir to combine. Step aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs together until frothy and all the Espresso powder.
  4. In another mixing bowl, mix all of the remaining dry ingredients (baking powder, salt, flour, cocoa) together.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat to combine.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate just until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9×13” baking pan sprayed with cooking oil. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick; when it comes out clean the brownies are done baking.

Optional directions for the perfectly cut brownie:

  1. Spray the 9×13” baking pan with spray and then add a sheet of either parchment or wax paper to the bottom of the pan, spray again. Pour the brownie batter onto the paper.
  2. Bake as directed above.
  3. Let the brownies cool and then place then in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  4. Lift the brownies out of the pan and then remove the pan underneath before placing on a cutting board.
  5. Use a sharp knife to remove the outside edges, then cut the brownies into 11/2 to 2” squares.
  6. Keep in the fridge for best, most intensely chocolatey results.
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Buckeye brownies

Usually I don’t even notice when March Madness comes and goes. But this year all three of my kids are not only playing basketball but hungry for any and all things basketball, NCAA tournaments fit right in.

In honor of Ohio State’s recent big win, I just had to make Buckeye brownies. I ran across the recipe months ago while writing up a post about cookie bars. Granted I didn’t need much of an incentive to make anything the combines peanut butter and chocolate! So if you’re looking for something to munch on while enjoying Ohio State’s next game on Friday against George Mason University (they’re also predicted to win the whole tournament, OSU, not GMU), give these a try.

Now to figure out a treat to honor my own alma mater–Brigham Young University. I’d love to see the two play in the final game, but we’ll see…

Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes + baking

Ingredients

1 family size box brownie mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup peanuts
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 9×13″ pan with baking spray.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the brownie mix, eggs and oil.
  4. In another bowl whip together the condensed milk and the peanut butter.
  5. Spoon the brownie batter onto the pan (it will be thick).
  6. Sprinkle the brownie batter with the nuts (the original recipe uses chopped nuts, I like them whole).
  7. Pour the milk mixture on top and swirl together using a fork or spatula.
  8. Bake for around 20 minutes or until cooked through.
  9. These are best on the second day–so chewy!
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