halloween candy cheesecake brownies

kit kat brownieIt’s about that time of year where our houses are filled with candy and we need to figure out what exactly to do with all of it. Well, fear not, I am here to help you out! A couple weeks ago I showed you how to turn our leftover candy into ice cream, last year we made a Halloween candy bark, and now, we take it one step further by shoving that delicious candy into brownies.  Continue reading

salty caramel pretzel brownies

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Sometimes managing a blog can be difficult.

I mean, aside from all the time spent shopping, prepping, cooking, photographing, and planning… all of that aside, the hardest thing by far is writing. Sometimes I just want to put up a picture and then put the recipe below and be done with it.

Writers block. It’s real, yo.

And it’s serious.

Sometimes I could talk about brownies for days (and sometimes I do)…  and then other times, like today, I’m all like, “How much can you really say about brownies?” 

Hi, I made brownies. Here is a picture to prove I made them. Here is another picture in case you’re still not convinced. And here is a recipe for said brownies. Yup. Looks like brownies.

>Brownies, brownies, brownies.

Then, a magical thing happened.

I realized I didn’t need to spend hours thinking about the brownies or how awesome their pretzelly crust was and how chewy and chocolatey they were and how delightful the little bits of caramel were or even how well the crunchy/salty pretzels accented them.

I didn’t have to ponder synonyms for “moist” (ew, right?) or different ways to describe the flavor of chocolate… in fact, I didn’t have to do any of that at all.

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I could, instead, talk about something completely different.  Like fortune cookies.  And how FH solidified for sure in his mind that we were meant to be (which is good, considering I’m wearing his ring on my finger and all. You think maybe he should have figured that out beforehand?)

Now you might be wondering what fortune cookies have to do with love, but let me get there.

FH and I tried a new Chinese joint last weekend. It was Saturday and I didn’t want to get out of my pajamas but FH wanted Chinese food, it was just our luck that someone left a menu on our doorstep for a new Chinese restaurant. I glanced through to see if they delivered (a lot of places don’t deliver when you live in the burbs – it’s the worst).

Luckily for us we were within their delivery area so we ordered it up and put a movie on – lucky for me O Brother Where Art Thou (which I recommend watching if you haven’t seen it yet) was playing on the movie channel so I got to watch my boy George while I waited for dinner to arrive.

The food came, and it was actually pretty good, which is neither here nor there… because the main star of this story, my friends, is this:

photo 1

Yeah, you’re eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That’s two fortune cookies. One wrapper.

Two.

 “WE WERE MEANT TO BE! OUR FORTUNES CAME TOGETHER!

To this day we haven’t even OPENED the fortune cookies because FH said it was so rare, “like a unicorn,” and said we should save them in our memory book, which I reminded him would mostly likely result in crushed fortune cookies. So I think that tonight I will force him to crack open the cookies, read our fortunes, and hope it doesn’t say something ominous like, “Everyone dies alone” or “You’re about to make a grave mistake.”

Anyway, here’s the brownie recipe.

They’re good, I promise.

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salty caramel pretzel brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 to 30 brownies (or 1 giant brownie, depending on how you slice)

Ingredients

    Pretzel crust
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Brownie layer
  • 7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (11-oz) package caramel bits; divided into 8 oz and 3 oz
  • For topping
  • 3 oz chocolate, melted
  • 3 oz caramel bits, melted
  • 1 c coarsely-chopped pretzels

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9x13 pan with foil and parchment
  2. For the crust
  3. Stir together flour, crushed pretzels, and brown sugar. Add melted butter and stir til combined. Press into bottom of lined pan.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool while you make the brownies.
  5. For the brownies
  6. Combine chocolate, espresso powder, water, and butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once melted, transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly (if it is too warm, it will cook your eggs when you add them).
  8. Once cooled to luke-warm, add the sugar and brown sugar, beating with mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating about two minutes more.
  9. Stir in flour and salt until just combined, then stir in caramel bits, being careful not to over-mix.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes until cooked through - a toothpick should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs sticking to it. With brownies, I always err on the side of under-baked vs over-baked.
  11. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes.
  12. For the topping:
  13. Crush pretzels and sprinkle over top of the brownies.
  14. Melt chocolate in microwave or double-boiler until smooth, drizzle over brownies.
  15. Melt caramel in microwave or double-boiler until smooth, drizzle over brownies.
  16. Allow brownies to cool completely and for chocolate to harden (you can speed this step up by placing brownies in the fridge).
  17. Once cooled, slice into bars and serve.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/17/salty-caramel-pretzel-brownies/

[ adapted from Bakers Royale ]

salty caramel pretzel brownie pin

 

Brownie Swirl Cake

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I’m going to tell you all that I had high hopes for March.  I know that Spring is right around the corner and I was all excited to share some “healthy” (well, more healthy than usual) recipes with you so that you didn’t have to swear off the website while you readied yourself for Spring Break or whatever it is that you have looming around the corner that may require you to wear some less-skin-covering clothing items.

Much to absolutely no one’s surprise, that ended quickly.  I promise that I’ve been making juices and salads for you, but in between all of those green and healthful things there is cake.  So.  Much.  Cake.

Well, since March is my birthday month and I’m always in search of the perfect cake for my birthday anyway, I decided to embrace my cake madness and MAKE ALL THE CAKE!  Followed by eating all the cake, and posting all the cake.

all the cake

Last year I made pretty much the best cake ever – a three layer rich chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and finished off with a dark chocolate ganache.  It was heavenly.  It’s going to be really hard to top.

But not everyone has hours to dedicate to cake-making.

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So, what if you have a birthday say, tomorrow, and you want to do something a little more special than just a box cake mix and you don’t know what to do because you have a job and a life and not enough hours in the day?

That’s where this comes in.

You get the ease of a box mix but with super fancy sprinkles and swirls that make it look like you worked really hard.  And the weirdest part?  Somehow you use brownie mix and a cake mix and it magically turns into this fun and pretty marbled sensation.

Not too shabby, huh?

So in honor of March, I’m going to say IT’S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH AND I CAN EAT CAKE EVERY FRICKIN’ DAY IF I WANT TO AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME.  And if you feel the need to celebrate March (officially renamed “Cake Month”) with me, then more power to you!  We’ll save all that healthy stuff for next month or something (or I’m sure I can sneak a recipe or two in between the cake).

For now, I’ll take another piece of cake please.

Brownie Swirl Cake

Yield: One 9- by 13-inch cake

Ingredients

  • *1 (15.25 oz) box cake mix
  • *1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • *1 egg
  • *1/2 cup milk
  • *1 "Family Size" box Brownie mix
  • *1 recipe frosting (or just a large can of frosting, I won't tell)
  • *Sprinkles, if desired

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray or line with foil/parchment.
  2. 2. In a medium mixing bowl combine cake mix, oil, egg and milk. Beat together for about 1 minute, until ingredients are incorporated.
  3. 3. Spread batter in the bottom of the prepared pan (it will be thick). I find the easiest way to do this is to wet my hands with water and use them to press and spread the mix until it covers the bottom of the pan.
  4. 4. Make your brownie batter according to the directions on the box. Pour the brownie batter on top of the cake layer.
  5. 5. Bake approx 25-30 minutes until center is set, err on the side of slightly underbaking than overbaking. What I ended up with was delicious brownie outsides (I like the dry brownie outside) and a nice, cakey inside. Surprisingly tasty.
  6. 6. Frost and top with sprinkles, if desired.
http://wee-eats.com/2013/03/03/brownie-swirl-cake/

 

[ Adapted from Cookies N Cups ]

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day gets a lot of grief from an ever-growing anti-Valentine crowd.  The “nonbelievers” (as I shall call them) seem to think that it’s not a “real” holiday.  Another excuse is that you should show someone you love them every day and “not just on Valentine’s Day.”

So,  maybe Valentine’s Day has become overly-commercialized, unlike  St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras, which are “real” and happily-celebrated holidays (at least by the non-believers that I know).  And maybe it has been hijacked by greeting card and candy companies, unlike those other real holidays (I’m lookin’ at you, Christmas and Easter).

I happen to like Valentine’s Day.  Possibly because I have a severe medium addiction to chocolate and will happily celebrate any holiday that make it acceptable for me to receive an entire box of it, but also because it’s a pretty easy holiday.  I only have one gift to buy, only one other person to feed, and I don’t have to binge-drink 1,000 pounds of green food coloring.  (Red food coloring is way better for your health, true story*)

*Totally not a true story.  Just made that up to support my argument. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day is not about candy or presents, and you don’t need a special day to show someone that you love them (If you are only showing affection one day out of the year, there may be many issues at play there).  The BF and I do little things for each other every day, but going out of your way to not celebrate a day that is dedicated to the one(s) you love just seems like a silly concept.

To me, at least.

So, even if you do something special every day, why not do it on February 14th?  What did February 14th ever do to you?

valentine brownie 3

Even if you don’t have a sweetheart, you can spread the love to your friends and/or co-workers.   What’s wrong with having just one more day of the year that you can show the people you love (or just the people you spend your day with) that you care?

And, even if you’re still not convinced…  Even if you’re still set on being a Valentine Scrooge…

Even if you “don’t believe” in Valentine’s Day…

I’m pretty sure that you probably believe in brownies.

So, Scrooge, make these brownies on the 13th, or the 15th, or make them in April for all I care.

Make the frosting orange or blue or whatever color you want, crush up the hearts and sprinkle them on top, broken and shattered.

But please, don’t take your hatred of Valentine’s Day out on these poor, innocent brownies.  Don’t let your Scroogeness (totally a word) prevent you from trying these delicious, bite-size morsels.

So make these for your sweetheart, or your friends, or your co-workers, or yourself.

valentine brownie 1

Not super into the whole chocolate/strawberry combo?  The frosting recipe for this is like the easiest thing ever and infinitely adaptable.  You can just replace strawberry jam with the flavor of your choice:  Raspberry jam?  Peanut butter?  Nothing at all?  Whatever floats your boat.

After I made these, I totally realized that I did a strawberry and chocolate combo last year for Valentine’s Day, too.  What can I say, chocolate and strawberry is the BF’s favorite combo, and Valentine’s Day is all about him.

Well, for me it is.  Hopefully not for you.  That would just be silly.  (Plus I would totally fight you.*)

*Just kidding.  I love you.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  Have a brownie.

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Valentine Brownie Bites with Strawberry Marshmallow Frosting

Makes: 24 mini brownie bites with frosting

Note: Following the recipe from its source yielded WAY MORE than the 24 mini brownies that it claimed, I’ve provided the halved recipe below, which should give you enough for 24 brownie bites and frosting for each. 

Printable Recipe

For the brownies:

  • 1 cup  sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 7-ounce container of  marshmallow fluff
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup seedless strawberry jam
  • pink or red food coloring, if desired
  • decorations, if desired

Make the brownies:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and line a mini muffin tin with 24 of the cutest  mini paper liners you can find.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated.
3.  Spoon into 24 prepared mini paper liners and bake  for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes of baking, turn the heat off and leave pan in the oven for another 5 to 6  minutes.  Remove pan from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing individual brownie bites to a rack to cool completely.  The tops will be dry and slightly cracked.
(To make in standard muffin tins, bake for 19-20 minutes at 350°F, then turn off the oven and let sit for another 10 minutes before removing from the oven.  Cool in the pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to complete cooling.)

Make the frosting:
1, In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Add marshmallow fluff and continue beating until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix to incorporate, then and the jam and continue beating until it is evenly distributed.
At this point the frosting will be a light pink or red color depending on the jam you used, you can beat in food coloring (I did) to achieve your desired color.

2. Top brownie bites with frosting and sprinkles.  I scooped the frosting into a gallon-size ziplock and cut off one of the corners of the bag making an opening between ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.  Gently squeeze frosting into the cupcake, creating a frosting “bubble”.

[ Adapted from: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles ]
If you like these brownies, you may enjoy these other romantic sweets:
dsc_5818small  mocha brownie thumb  chocolate cake thumb

better than crack brownies

better than crack brownies

These brownies were baked on Saturday night, while enjoying jellybean cocktails and watching reality TV. Chocolate, alcohol, and trashy TV… I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night. Can you?

Layers of chewy brownies, chopped Reese’s and a crunchy chocolate/crisp rice cereal mixture make these positively divine. Be sure to cut these into tiny squares, not only because they’re rich but so that when you share, you only have to share a little bit (and you can hoard the rest for yourself).

The recipe called for peanuts as well, but I don’t like nuts in my baked goods (generally speaking) so I left them out. Feel free to use them if you like. I might have added more Reese’s to the peanut butter cup layer, but that’s up to you. If you want a thicker brownie layer, go ahead and double the batch of brownies (I had a hard time spreading mine to take up the whole pan).

Crunchy, chewy, sweet, and salty – these brownies have it all.

Better-Than-Crack Brownies

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 batch brownies (boxed mix or your favorite recipe)
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Crisp Rice Cereal

1. Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

2. When they are finished baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Pour cereal mixture evenly over brownies.

3. Chill two hours to firm up before cutting.

[ Adapted from How Sweet It Is ]

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