Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars (Recipe Redo)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars



I am constantly amazed at how bad my photography skills were a few years ago. I’m no prize now, but at least I don’t cringe (most of the time) when I see my pictures. And I am constantly amazed that I make some things and then do the whole blogger thing of not making the it again because if I do that, I can’t use it in the blog. Totally silly of those of us who blog because in doing that, as we miss out on eating the most delicious things more than once. I haven’t made these bars since the first time I did in 2011. I have no idea why I have never made them again because, dang, these are awesome! It all comes down to, I think, what I said about how when you’re a blogger, you tend to not make the same things twice because if you do, it’s no longer blog fodder :-p

I made these a bit differently than the first time. I added more flavor to the crust, a bit to the filling and I used less chocolate chips on top, because, my God, what was I thinking last time with the amount of chips on there?! It’s a chocolate filling, for pete’s sake. it doesn’t needed a covering of chocolate thick enough to put a herd of elephants into a diabetic coma. So I cut it down. Now only one or two elephants are in danger of that coma.

These are fantastic pot luck or church supper fare; rich enough to be decadent yet not time consuming in the least. But once you try a bite, suddenly, you’ll forget to take the plate with you where ever you need to go. Instead, you’ll be that person hiding in the closet from your kids so that you can eat these in peace. Wait. I’m not the only one who does that, am I?

The crust for these are wonderfully crumbly to the bite, but not when you cut it. Then you have a layer of tangy sweetened berries, covered with a creamy chocolate filling, then crumbs on top. What’s not to love? Berries, chocolate, creamy and crumbs. ๐Ÿ˜€

You know the drill…

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

  • CRUST-
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup slivered toasted almonds
  • FILLING-
  • 1 lb container fresh strawberries, capped and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13ร—9 inch pan. Line with foil and grease the foil or spray with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, butter and powdered sugar. Sprinkle with the extracts. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour and sugar until you have pea sized crumbs. Fold in the slivered almonds
  4. Pat 2 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Set the rest aside.
  5. Bake the crust for ten minutes or until a very light golden brown around the edges.
  6. Meanwhile, gently fold your sliced strawberries together with the preserves.
  7. In a small bowl, mix one cup of chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and extracts and microwave on high in 30 seconds increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Carefully spread the strawberry mixture on top of the hot crust. Then pour the chocolate/milk mix on top of the berries and spread. Sprinkle that with the reserved crumbs and the rest of the chocolate chips.
  9. Bake at 350 for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the center is set.
  10. Let cool, preferably in the fridge for a couple of hours. Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan to a large cutting board. Use a knife dipped in hot water then wiped dry to cut the bars into serving sized pieces.

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Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies



I’ve come to the realization that I am always going to be a year or so behind everyone else when it comes to trying new things, be it watching a TV show, shopping certain places or trying new foods. When everyone else was watching Glee, I refused. I started watching it on netflix after season two. I then stopped mid season 4 because it sucked, but that is neither here nor there. Greys Anatomy? End of season six is when I started watching. Stopped watching that also, because they got into subject matter I disliked. I have a hard time finding a modern show I can stick with :-p I’m also that person who didn’t realize what a wonderful place Target was until about a year and a half ago. Now, like most women over 12 and under 95, it’s one of my favorite stores.

When it comes to foods, same thing. I didn’t try a Macaron until about a year ago and now I love them. I still haven’t tried making them myself though. Easier just to buy them frozen at Trader Joes. ๐Ÿ˜€ I didn’t try salted caramel until MAYBE two years ago, a full couple of years after you could find salted caramel everything (salted caramel shoe leather anyone? Maybe a nice salted caramel beef tongue?) on every food page on the internet. That’s one I regret not trying sooner, but live and learn. Stubbornness has its drawbacks and I doubt I’ll be changing anytime soon. The plus though is that, when everyone else has moved past it, yet it’s still a loved flavor, like salted caramel, you don’t have to compete with 5000000 posts each day to get seen. The rest of the foodie world has moved onto marinated llama feet in a balsamic reduction, so the salted caramel treats stand out more ๐Ÿ˜€

One thing I only recently tried was the whole sweet/salty idea. Sure, I’d had chocolate covered pretzels, which I don’t care for to be honest, but the idea of purposely sprinkling salt on top of a sweet food bewildered me. Until I tried it. Just trust me on this if you’re still as hesitant as I was. Will I be sprinkling salt on a Twinkie anytime soon? No. But on chocolate? It adds an indefinable something to the flavor.

I’ve made browned butter brownies more than once in here and they are still a favorite, but these are totally over the top. Moist, chewy browned butter brownies and creamy chocolate chunks, covered with gooey salted caramel, then MORE salted caramel and some coarse salt for crunch and contrast. Totally delicious!

You know the drill….

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1ย  teaspoon instant coffee (optional; my addition. You canโ€™t taste it, it just rounds out the chocolate flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1/2 cup good quality salted caramel sauce plus more for drizzling
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top

 

  • Position oven rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  • Line an 8 inch square pan with foil, letting it hang over the edges to use as a handle later. Lightly butter or spray the foil with cooking spray.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter isnโ€™t foaming anymore and there are browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir often and keep an eye on this. It can go from lovely browned butter to a smelly burned mess in no time flat. This will probably take about 5 minutes or so.
  • Remove from the heat and immediately add in the cocoa, sugar, water, vanilla and salt. Stir well.
  • Let cool five minutes. Add the cold eggs to the hot mixture, one at a time, beating well (by hand) after each addition. When the mixture is thick and glossy, add in the flour. Beat well by hand for one minute.
  • Stir in chocolate chips or chunks. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle the salted caramel sauce over the top of the batter. You could swirl it in if preferred, but I just let it lay on top, where it gets all bubbly and more or less melts into the batter.
  • Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost, but not quite, clean. Cool the pan on a rack then lift out by the edges of the paper. Cut into 16 squares. Drizzle more salted caramelย  over the top of the brownies and sprinkle with coarse salt. Enjoy!

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Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars

Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars

Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars



The last post I mentioned being tired. Guess what? I’m still tired. Why, you ask? You did ask, didn’t you? Because I have kids, that’s why. last night at about 2am, Joshie came in the room saying he had had a bad dream. We cuddled for a bit, then I put him back to bed. Three fifteen am, Josh came in and said he was scared in his room and he needed a drink. I got him a drink, tucked him back into bed with “Favorite Bear” and “Fuzzy Bear” and stumbled back to bed myself, after tripping over a meowing cat who decided that he too was lonely and swatting at my bare leg was the way to let me know. So, first I had to go clean the rivulets of blood of my leg and put in 33 stitches. Mind you, all of this was after not being able to sleep well anyway because I’ve been dealing with a Migraine. FINALLY, about 5:30, I fell asleep. Then my husband and Josh came to say bye at 6:30 when Russ took Josh to school and himself to work. Fell asleep again… all the way to dream sleep this time…… only to suddenly be jerked awake by the feeling of someone poking me in the head through the pillow I routinely keep over my head to keep out light and noise. What was it, you ask? You did ask, didn’t you?

It was my 18 year old son Zach. He had missed the bus and needed a ride in. After I sobbed for a while and threw a tantrum while lying on the floor kicking my feet, I drove the boy in. And stopped at a gas station for something they pretended was coffee, but I’m fairly sure was really leftover ethanol. So I added cream and sugar to it and hoped for the best.

Which brings us to these bars. I blame lack of sleep and my family for the fact that I let these go a bit too long in the oven and the bottom crust was a weeeeeee bit hard (think machete needed) to cut through. Just remember… in cases like this, do not let me be your foodie role model. You’re welcome for that reminder.

They are good even with the slightly rocky bottom crust though, which says a lot for the bars. These are just my rendition of the ever popular Salted Caramel Butter Bars that are ubiquitous to the internet. They originally came from the cookbook Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey which I love and have taken out of the library about 63 times. I mean, really…. just look at the title. Of COURSE I love this cookbook!

The original bars are just crust, salted caramel and crumbles on top. Can we say one dimensional? :-p Not that anything with salted caramel and streuselly crumbs is a BAD thing. I just happened to think it needed something. Whoda thunk it, huh? So what did I do, you ask? You did ask, didn’t you? I added some toasted pecans in the top crumb layer and I added some chocolate chips on top of the caramel layer and increased the amount of caramel by about 4 ounces. See? Nothing earth shaking. Just enough to change it up a bit.

These are SWEET with a capital SWEET! Cut these bars small. I can see layering a couple of tart apples in there during the Autumn season to help cut the sweetness or serving these with some unsweetened sauteed apples as dessert. They just cry out for some tang. Also? Do not cringe when you see the amount of butter in these. C’mon… they’re called butter bars and this is my blog. You expected salad?

You know the drill….

Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars

  • Crust-
  • 2 cups (1 lb) salted butter, room temp (you can sub unsalted, but add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mixture if you do)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350 degree oven
  • Filling-
  • 2 9 ounce bags Werthers Baking Caramels, unwrapped (because you know you planned on leaving them wrapped :-p)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, preferably non stick. If NOT non stick foil, butter the foil or grease it with cooking spray.
  2. Place the butter, sugars and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. You can use a hand mixer for this, but you will end up covered in flour and powdered sugar. Trust me. Cream them together until smooth. Add in the flour and beat at medium speed until you have a crumbly mass of dough.
  3. Pat 1/3 of the dough into the prepared pan; add the toasted pecans to the remainder of the dough, then place the part with the nuts in the fridge. Bake the crust at 350 until it is just firm and a light brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  4. While the crust cooks, make the filling. Place the caramels, cream and vanilla extract into a medium bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds. Stir to help melt, then continue microwaving for 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until it is smooth and fully melted. Mine took 2 and a half minutes altogether.
  5. Pour the caramel over the hot crust. Sprinkle with the teaspoon sea salt and the chocolate chips. Get the dough from the fridge and crumble it up over the top of the caramel. It is a lot of crumbs but don’t worry, it works.
  6. Bake at 350 until the filling is bubbly and the top layer is a nice light golden brown. Remember, I said LIGHT. Don’t be like me ๐Ÿ˜› The baking should take about 25 minutes.
  7. ย Let the bars cool completely before cutting. Cut into small squares and serve with something tart…or some nice black coffee.

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Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars

Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars

 

Apricot (or your favorite flavor) Almond Streusel Bars

Yum

Apricot Almond Streusel Bars

Apricot Almond Streusel Bars

I can just see some of you out there rolling your eyes, saying, “My God, woman, enough with the streusel! How many streusel baked goods can you post!?” To which I say, in response, “All of them”. I ๐Ÿ˜€ like me some streusel , what can I say? Streusel makes me happy. it also makes me have to sweep off the bed when I decide to try and eat a slice of this while laying in bed reading “The Clan Of The Cave Bear”. But I think Ayla would have liked streusel. Heck, if those books are any indication, Ayla was the one to discover streusel. Lord knows she and her “mate”, Jondolar, discovered everything else we have nowadays, from the bow and arrow to nuclear weapons and modern plane travel. I think they were also the first ones to bake twinkies :-p

Well now… that was a random tangent, even for me. But so long as I’m on it…. I just finished rereading that book. I read it back in the day when it came out and probably about 4 or five times since.ย  While portions of that book are rather ridiculous and tedious, Jean Auel did have one hell of a knack for describing food. The woman had me wanting Mammoth pot roast (I swear, every time I read that book, I start craving a juicy tender pot roast) and planning on hunting down acorns in the hopes that I could “leech the bitterness out of them”. And I STILL want to try the one flatcake she mentioned that was soaked in maple syrup, then dried in the sun.

But, until I come across a live mammoth or have time to pound and dry a butt ton of acorns, I will stick to streusel. Streusel for the win! Especially when they are layered with apricot preserves and chocolate chips. I love chocolate covered apricots but can never figure out whether to eat the white chocolate covered ones or the dark chocolate ones, so in these bars, I just used both. These are a simple bar… both to make and in their hominess. They are a perfect snack (just stay out of bed with them), good school or after school snack and great for a family dessert or a pot luck. Crispy, fruity, chocolatey… what more do you need?

(Originally from Better Baking)

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Mrs. Cupcake… who needs to go vacuum the bed again

Apricot Almond Streusel Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups apricot preserves (use your favorite flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cups white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil; butter or spray the foil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, oats, almonds, both kinds of sugar, baking powder,ย  and salt.
  3. Use a pastry blender or your fingers (I usually start out with the pastry blender to cut the large pieces down, then use my hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients) to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You want to get it to about the size of peas and nice and crumbly looking.
  4. Take outย  1 1/2 cups of the streusel and set it aside. Pour the rest into the prepared pan and pat it firmly down into the bottom of the pan for the crust.
  5. Combine the preserves with the extracts; stir well. Spoon this over the crust; spread to the edges. Top with the two types of chips, then sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top.
  6. Bake at 350 until the top is golden brown and you can see the preserves bubbling at the sides of the pan, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack until completely cool, then use the foil to help lift the bars out of the pan. Slice into desired sized squares, remembering that these are fairly sweet, so make them somewhat small.

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Easy Caramel Pecan Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies



I first saw this recipe back in like 1984 or 1985 or so, just after I got married to my ex. I was deep into the newlywed “cut out recipes and save them” phase. I got it from, of all places, TV Guide. This was back when TV guide was interesting. It was about the size of a Readers Digest magazine, had a fair amount of articles in it and a nice synopsis of practically every show that came on. They also had a piece at times highlighting celebrity recipes. This one came from John Davidson (yes, I realize fully half of you have no idea who he is, lol while the rest of you are googling his name as you think, “Wow. Is he even still alive? He’s like 200 years old, right?”)) and was aptly titled “John Davidsons Brownies”. The TV Guide people were somewhat lacking in imagination. I guess they used all their creativity describing episodes of M*A*S*H or The Waltons and had none left for recipe titles.

Since then, it has, as most recipes do anymore, swept the web under many different guises with some people (who obviously forget that the rest of us can google) going so far as to say they made these up. You can find it under “Turtle Brownies”, “Cake Mix Brownies” and 900 other names. But it’s still always the same basic recipe. This is one of those times when you don’t want to try to be fancy. No homemade caramel sauce here… no from scratch cake. Normally, I would balk at wrapped cheap caramels, but know what? They totally work here. I hadn’t made these in forever and I had forgotten how good they are. They are intensely chocolatey (in part because I use a chocolate fudge cake mix, not the German chocolate one originally called for), gooey from the caramel and they have a nice crunch from the nuts. I’m not usually a nut person (just nutty personally) but they also help cut the sweetness in the brownies. That way you can eat more of them! ๐Ÿ˜€

About all I do differently from the original is the cake mix flavor, plus I use half and half rather than the evaporated milk it used and I add about a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter.

So what do we have here? Intensely chocolatey brownies, gooey caramel and crunchy nuts. And they’re so easy you can let the kids make them and you can sit and watch old M*A*S*H reruns.ย  Yeah, you want these.

You know the drill…

Easy Caramel Brownies

  • 1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix (or whatever chocolate flavor trips your trigger)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 14 ounce bag caramels (I use Kraft)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350 oven (the toasting is optional, but it’s a really good idea)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon (or whatever, just do this by hand) combine the cake mix, 1/4 cup half and half, vanilla extract and the melted butter.. It will be a fairly stiff batter; you didn’t do anything incorrectly. Press about half of this (may take a touch more) into the bottom of the prepared pan. It will be a thin layer.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes while you prepare the caramels.
  4. Unwrap the caramels and put them, along with the 1/2 cup of half and half, in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute, stir, then microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until they are melted and smooth. Mine take aboutย  two and a half minutes.
  5. Take the brownies out, sprinkle the pecans on top of them, then the chocolate chips. Pour the caramel sauce in an even layer over this. Then, use your hands to break up small pieces of the remaining brownie batter and place it all over the caramel. It will NOT cover the whole thing. You’ll end up with a rather cobblestone look.
  6. Place the pan back in the oven and continue baking until the top is firm and set and the caramel is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool for at least an hour, then pull them out using the foil and cut into pieces. They are fairly rich, so it doesn’t take much to satisfy anyone but the most addicted chocoholic. In other words, me. Heck, just cut big squares. Who am I kidding?

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White Chocolate Coconut/Lime Bars

White Chocolate Coconut/Lime Bars

White Chocolate Coconut/Lime Bars




For a few years now, there has been a recipe floating around the ‘net for lemon brownies. They have, in their various incarnations, been pinned about 4 bazillion times and remade probably as much. There is, at this point, no way to dig and find out who did it first. So, now you’re thinking, “so you made those lemon brownies even though they are all over the internet?! I’m disappointed in you, Janet!”

Surely, you jest? ( “I don’t jest and don’t call me Shirley!” Sorry… I was channeling one of my fathers old jokes.) Me? Me?! Repeat what has been repeatedย  ad nauseam? Not happ’nin. So what did I do, you ask? Please tell me you were asking or about to. Otherwise, kittens will cry.

I…wait for it…changed it up. A lot. You’d NEVER expect that out of me, now would you?! I took the original recipe and kind of turned it on it’s head. It’s no longer lemon. It’s Lime. With coconut flavor… and chunks of Lindt White Coconut Bar. This is…so…good. The bar is slightly chewy and then you get a somewhat melted in bite of White Chocolate Coconut bar along with the tang of lime in the bar and in the glaze. Did I mention that these are fantastic?

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

White Chocolate Coconut/Lime Bars

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring (in the same area in the store as the vanilla extract)
  • 2 3.5 ounce Lindt Excellence White Coconut bars, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour to toss the chocolate in
  • Glaze-
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • milk if needed to thin glaze
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square pan with non stick foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, flour and salt until well combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest and the flavorings. Pour into the flour mixture and beat well for about two minutes on medium speed. The mixture will look really thin and even might look somewhat curdled. You didn’t mess up; it’s fine.
  4. Gently, fold in the chopped chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan
  5. Bake at 350 for between 30 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out barely clean.
  6. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
  7. When cool, combine all the glaze ingredients and spoon over the bars. When the glaze has had a while to firm up (refrigerate if you want o hasten this) lift the bars by the foil and lay out on a cutting board.ย  Cut into desired size squares…or rectangles or if you cut as badly as I do, something resembling a hexagon on steroids.
  8. So far as I can tell thus far, these are good at room temp or straight from the fridge. Haven’t tried frozen.

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Fudgy Brownies With Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Fudgy Brownies With Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Fudgy Brownies With Mini Peanut Butter Cups




We all know I am NOT a fan of peanut butter. Well, to qualify again, not “normal” peanut butter. I do have a soft spot for Peanut Butter & Company’s Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter and Jifs new Salted Caramel Hazelnut is pretty amazing as peanut butter type spreads go. You’ll notice I did NOT say it was “to die for”. I believe I’ve mentioned before that that is one of those phrases that makes me want to gouge my eardrums out with a spoon. That one along with “EVOO” and “Sammy”. Damn you for your evil influence, Rachael Ray, damn you. But back on tangent, as much as it possible for me, no “to die for”…. I will only die for medium rare ribeyes and roasted brussel sprouts. I have my standards.

But every once in a while, cause I love you all so much (“I just cain’t quit you” ๐Ÿ˜› ), I have to make something peanut buttery for all of you. I realize how peculiar I am with my dislike of PB.ย  I realize how peculiar I am for many reasons and that that is but one of many, but lets not go there.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with these. Yes, they have a strong peanut buttery taste so those of you into that will love that aspect, but they are also fudgy/chewy enough and of course, chocolatey enough, that even I enjoyed them. They have a perfect, shiny crackly top crust, which I personally love. I found myself, after cutting off the edges, picking up stray bites here and there. Sooo chewy and yummy. ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh yeah, just for good measure, I threw in a bag of Heath Chips, so that added yet another level of crunchy, salty/sweet goodness. You can thank me later. ๐Ÿ˜€

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Fudgy Brownies With Mini Peanut Butter Cups

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten (use a large bowl)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 8 ounces mini peanut butter cups (I used Trader Joes Brand)
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) Heath Bar chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11×7 glass pan (I used a standard Pyrex) or a 13×9 inch pan. If you use the 13×9, be more aware of your cooking time as these will cook quicker.
  2. Melt your butter in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add the chocolate, stir once, then remove the pot form the heat. Let it sit for five minutes then stir for about 2 minutes to finish melting the chips.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk to blend.
  4. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture over the beaten eggs, whisking the whole time. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat well.
  5. Pour in the flour and beat JUST until combined. Fold in the peanut butter cups and heath chips.
  6. Spoon into the prepared pan. bake at 350 for approximately 40 minutes or until the top is shiny, firm and crackly looking and inserting a skewer in the center shows only a few moist crumbs, not a loose or liquidy batter.
  7. Let cool in the pan on a rack until thoroughly cool before cutting. You cut them before this and you will get goop. Tasty goop, but goop nonetheless. If you have these room temp, they are creamier and silkier in texture. If you chill them, they take on more of a candylike fudge texture. try it both ways to see which you prefer. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Best.Brownies.Ever

Cocoa Brownies With Browned Butter And A Raspberry Swirl

Cocoa Brownies With Browned Butter And A Raspberry Swirl

Now you all know me. I am not prone to rhapsodizing foods as the “best ever” (suddenly hopes that there are no posts I’m forgetting that say something is the best ever). That of course doesn’t count Cheetos and Twinkies *has a moment of silence for Twinkies…as I do each day*

But these brownies really are the best ever. At least the best I’VE had. And c’mon folks, I’m 48 years old… that’s a lot of brownie eating years to cover. I’ve had boxed prepackaged brownies, Little Debbie brownies (to which I admit having a soft spot for even though I am fairly sure that there is not even ONE real food in them), mix brownies, so called gourmet brownies, burned to a crisp brownies (don’t ask… it wasn’t pretty.) brownies made with chopped chocolate, brownies made with cocoa, blondies, brownies red headed step child and so on and so forth. I’ve eaten a lot of brownies.

I was always convinced that I preferred ones made with unsweetened chocolate blocks or something like that as opposed to ones made with cocoa. I’m not sure why really; just that the one seemed richer than the other I guess and in my mind, that equated to better brownies. So when I first saw this recipe, I wasn’t sure about them since they use cocoa powder. But the idea of using browned butter intrigued me and man oh man, am I ever glad I did. These are hands down my favorite brownie now. And my husband agrees with me. I don’t count the kids because they’re kids… they would eat chocolate flavored cat littler if I served it. But yes, they liked these too. The ones here count as the third time I’ve made them since before Christmas. Point there being that this time, I was ready to experiment a bit beyond the regular recipe. Not much however. Just added about 1/3 of a cup of raspberry preserves to them (swirled on) before baking and I didn’t use the walnuts this time. But I would seriously suggest making these plain and as per the recipe the first time. One, just to get the hang of it, two, to enjoy these in all their pure chocolatey goodness. After that though, this recipes would lend itself to many variations… and I plan on trying them many ways hehe

Another wonderful thing about this recipe? You don’t need a bowl. This all gets mixed right in the saucepan. Can’t beat that… amazing taste AND easy.

Cocoa Brownies With Browned Butter And A Raspberry Swirl

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened powder (NOT drink mix)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee (optional; my addition. You can’t taste it, it just rounds out the chocolate flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves or jam (optional)
  1. Position oven rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  2. Lightly butter an 8×8 square baking pan and then line with parchment paper. Lightly butter the paper or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter isn’t foaming anymore and there are browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir often and keep an eye on this. It can go from lovely browned butter to a smelly burned mess in no time flat. This will probably take about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Remove from the heat and immediately add in the cocoa, sugar, water, vanilla and salt. Stir well.
  5. Let cool five minutes. Add the cold eggs to the hot mixture, one at a time, beating well (by hand) after each addition. When the mixture is thick and glossy, add in the flour. Beat for 60 strokes.ย  I won’t tell anyone however if you do it 61 or even 59. It’s ok. We’re a flexible crowd.
  6. Stir in nuts if using. Spread batter into the prepared pan. This would be the time to swirl in jam if you wanted to do that.
  7. Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost, but not quite, clean. Cool the pan on a rack then lift out by the edges of the paper. Cut into 16 squares. Or just leave it in the pan, ladle whipped cream on top, get a spoon and get gloriously ill. Your choice.

Simple Doesn’t Always Mean Simplistic

Fudgy Brownies With Peanut Butter Mousse

I may have ranted mentioned before my irritation with people who are constantly talking about how they would never do this or never do that or “omg, how can you USE this when you cook?!” when it comes to cooking and ingredients. You know the ones I am talking about? The who claim that a preservative has never ever passed their lips, that everything they cook with, feed their family and/or eat is organic, humanely raised, home made down to growing the ingredients themselves, even the wheat. And God forbid they were to ever eat something made with a prepackaged mix. Mind you, these are also the same people who, were a world crisis to happen, would be the first to uphold all of Darwins theories about survival of the fittest because they are too entrenched in one way of cooking and eating. Though, mind you, I am personally convinced that 98% of them frequently hide in their closets and eat Hershey bar or Little Debbie snack cakes, but I’ll admit that I may be projecting a bit there ๐Ÿ˜› The other 2 percent just scare me.

But the people who supposedly live by this credo would be missing out when it comes to these brownies. Why? because they are made with *GASPS LOUDLY* a boxed mix. The recipe comes from one of those Pillsbury monthly books. I used to buy them all the time and I have had this one for over 20 years. I’m not even sure they make these cookbooks anymore actually which is a shame because they helped me a LOT in my early years of cooking for a family.

When I first decided to use this recipe, I considered improvising and using a homemade brownie recipe for the base of these. It was a case of wanting to look good and not wanting readers or other bloggers to roll their eyes at me. But then I remembered that when I MADE this blog, one of the things I promised myself and any readers I would get in the future was that I would NOT be someone full of pretense. I would blog the way I cooked. And while I rarely use boxed brownie mix, it has been known to be made in my household. It’s easy, they taste good, it’s a good way to get kids into cooking and it’s quick.

Many of you know that I’m not a peanut butter fan for the most part. But every once in a while I still use it because my family enjoys it. And I have to admit… I really really like these. The brownie is nice and chewy and the creamy topping is rich with a slight tang from the cream cheese. Add in the ganache topping and I would happily wager that they could convert many a boxed mix hater (and peanut butter hater like me). There is nothing about these that screams “boxed mix”. They are also pretty darn attractive and would make a good addition to any cookie tray, be it for the holidays or a Summer bbq… whatever. So go on… go buy a box of brownie mix. G’wan.

Fudgy Brownies With A Creamy Peanut Butter Mousse

  • One box brownie mix, batter prepared according to directions (or make homemade if the spirit moves you)
  • 1 package peanut butter chips, 1/2 cup reserved
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • GANACHE-
  • 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13×9 baking pan. Line it with parchment paper then butter the bottom only of the paper. Trust me… use the paper. it’s not expensive and it will be nearly impossibly to get the brownies out neatly otherwise.
  2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, stirring the peanut butter chips into the batter (not the reserved 1/2 cup)
  3. Bake according to box directions, using the lowest cookie times so the brownies are fudgy and not hard. (I’m not putting specific times here because different brands may call for different times)
  4. Cool in pan set on wire rack until completely cooled.
  5. When cool, make the mousse. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, the butter and the cream cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. beat until you have a spreadable creamy mixture. Eat a few spoonfuls hehe.
  6. Spread the mousse mixture over the top of the brownies.
  7. Refrigerate while you make the ganache.
  8. To make the ganache,ย  put the semi sweet chocolate in a small bowl. Scald your cream then pour it over the chips. Let it sit for about 3 minutes or so then stir. the heat should have melted the chips quite nicely. Stir until smooth and shiny.
  9. Let the ganache come to room temp. Do NOT pour over the mousse when warm or you’ll melt the mousse.
  10. When it’s at room temp, slowly pour the ganache over the peanut butter mousse. Use it all. When it’s poured, refrigerate the pan to let the ganache set up.
  11. When chilled, cut into squares… or circles… or hexagons if that makes you happy.

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