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” 😛 ), I have to make something peanut buttery for all of you. I realize how peculiar I am with my dislike of PB.  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. 😀 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. 😀

You know the drill… 🙂

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. 🙂

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Red Velvet Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies


Out of my six kids, three are already grown and married and I have 7 grandkids. Yes… seven. Four from my oldest son and 3 from my only daughter. My son Cameron and his wife Tiffany haven’t decided if I am getting any from them, the boogerheads. But that’s ok… I mean, here I am, at the age of 29 with 7 grandkids! That should keep me going, right? At my young age? (You’re falling for this, aren’t you? Humor me here.)

My daughter in law Tiffany has a strange addiction to anything Red Velvet. Until I met her years back, I had never even tasted anything red velvet-ish. Not even once. Truthfully, I still prefer my chocolate cakes, cupcakes and brownies to be a deeper chocolate flavor but I can see the allure that red velvet has for others, so I make it. Don’t get me wrong… I also eat it when I make it lol.

Tiffy unfortunately wouldn’t like this version. Why? Because it has mint and as much as she loves red velvet, she has an aversion to mint. We keep her around even in light of these fatal flaws of heres.

These however are a chocolate/mint/red velvet/ cheesecake/  lovers dream. You get all of these things all mixed up in these brownies. They are a peppermint red velvet brownie swirled with a creamy vanilla cheesecake topping.. Ummm, I think I will manage to eat one or two or eight of these even without being a major fan hehehe.  These are a slightly cakey brownie when they first cool, but if you refrigerate them, they get fudgier and firmer, which is more to my liking. They are also easier to cut that way. These brownies don’t take but a few minutes to throiw together and get into the oven, then they have an approximately half hour bake time. So these are perfect for those “oh crap, I need something for that church Christmas dinner” or just as an easy treat for your family or best yet, as a pretty brownie to put out on your Christmas cookie tray.

These originally came from Southern Living. I made very little in the way of changes, just the type of chocolate used and the amount of cream cheese in the topping and I quadrupled the amount of peppermint extract. The original called for 1/4 teaspoon and first time I made these, I couldn’t taste even a hint of peppermint. Not a bit.

You know the drill….

Red Velvet Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

  • 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 small (1 ounce) bottle red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • pinch salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • crushed peppermint candies to sprinkle on top (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, making sure to have enough to overhang the pan somewhat and then grease the foil.
  2. Microwave the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl at about 60% power for 1 minute. Stir, then do again in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted.
  3. Stir in 2 cups of the sugar, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until well blended after each one. Add the food coloring, the peppermint extract and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla; mix well. Add in the 1 1/2 cups flour and mix just until the flour is blended in.
  4. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the remaining vanilla, egg whites and 2 tablespoons flour. Beat well.
  6. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the top of the brownie batter and swirl in with a butter knife.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 30 to 34 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let cool on a rack in the pan for about an hour, then use the foil to lift the brownies out onto a cutting board. Carefully remove the foil and cut the brownies into bars. Store these tightly wrapped in the fridge.

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Boozy Browned Butter Brownies

Boozy Browned Butter Brownies

Boozy Browned Butter Brownies

Heh. Title as tongue twister. I thought about Browned Butter Baileys & Kahlua Brownies, but that just wasn’t as fun. Then again, I’m probably just easily amused.

I posted on my facebook page earlier that I found it funny that bloggers are accused of *cough cough, I’m looking at you, Martha Stewart* not testing recipes and just generally not knowing what they are doing. Why did I find that funny? Because it took me more than one pan of these brownies to get it right, to get it to where I thought they were good enough. Mind you, my boys absolutely loved the pans that didn’t make the cut. Brownie overload. But I was NOT going to post a recipe/slash photo that wasn’t good enough. And I know I’m in the majority with that opinion. The majority of bloggers I know won’t post something that either doesn’t turn out magically wonderful on the first try or that they haven’t decided is great after the 73rd try (and fail). We take as much pride in our work as people in any other job. The ones that don’t are the ones that disappear after six months because blogging is work. The things we post don’t happen in five minutes. We spend hours a day creating (or recreating and making our own the recipes of others) recipes, photographing them, writing posts etc etc. Why? Because we love you *breaks into the Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song* And because we love to cook, and love to write and love the people we meet. Bottom line though? Find a decent blogger…and chances are you are finding someone whose recipes you can trust. I hope you count me among them. If for no other reason than my sons are over here getting nauseous and fat from too many brownies.

Boozy Browned Butter Brownies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 4 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate (Again, Ghirardelli makes a good one), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlua
  • 3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil; butter the foil.
  2. Place your butter in a medium saucepot. Over medium heat, melt the butter and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the butter is golden brown. Watch carefully, cause this can go from brown to black in a second and then all you’ll have is 3/4 of a cup of trash.
  3. Remove from heat and add in the 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. Let sit for five minutes, then stir to get a smooth mixture.  Stir in the brown sugar and a 1/2 cups of the white sugar. Add in the vanilla and 3 of the eggs, one at a time, and stir well after each one.
  4. Stir in the flour, then spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons flour. Using a hand mixer, beat at low speed until well combined. Add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the egg; beat well.
  6. Add in the liquors (you can btw, sub any favorite liquor for the Kahlua and Baileys. Using all of one of them would be yummy, as would something like Amaretto or Frangelico or maybe Peppermint Schnapps for a Christmas version) and beat well.
  7. Pour the cream cheese batter over the top of the brownie batter. Spoon portions of the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter and use a knife or the back of a spoon to swirl the two batters together. The brownie batter is thick so don’t expect it to swirl easily.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
  9. Let cool in pan on a rack for about an hour, then use the foil to take the brownies from the pan. These will cut easier (and have a better texture) if you let them chill overnight. Slice with a hot sharp knife.

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Mounds Bars Brownies With A Creamy Coconut Buttercream


Mounds Bar Brownies With Coconut Buttercream

Mounds Bar Brownies With Coconut Buttercream

Respiratory illnesses suck. Just sayin’. I am one of those people who doesn’t get a mere cold. Oh nooooooo… my body is as ornery as my personality. I get the sniffles and we know to have 911 on standby for when I start coughing up bits and pieces of a lung or twelve. Thus why I have been gone almost 2 weeks. It takes time to piece back together a lung. And I’ve never been good at puzzles. I tried yesterday and I am pretty sure that my lung is NOT supposed to be on the bottom of my foot. But that’s ok. It tickled. I kinda liked it.

It’s been a LONGGGGGG 2 weeks. This may have effected more than lungs and sinuses. Oh hell, who am I kidding. I’m acting no weirder than normal.

Seriously though, sorry I was gone so long. I’m more or less on the mend now. Still coughing like crazy and still need meds to breathe at night but good otherwise. Definitely ready to get back to work.

And I started out way over the line on the decadence side. Gee. imagine that huh? Me? Making naughty foods instead of quinoa salads?

These brownies are yummy. Yummy may be an understatement. They kind of cross the line over into “OMG, I am gonna need to work out for 3 hours if I eat one of these!” territory. The brownie part of these is barely adapted from Ina Gartens Outrageous brownie recipe. I simply more or less cut it in half (changed it a touch but like I said, barely). Then I shoved some fun size Mounds bars and semisweet chocolate chips into the batter before baking. THEN to add insult to injury, I topped it off with a creamy coconut buttercream. But wait! Order right now and pay just ONE shipping and handling!

Sorry. I was having an infomercial moment. As I was saying… then, I covered it all with a rich thick chocolate ganache. Then (how many times can I say then for one recipe?) I coated THAT with some crunchy toasted coconut. So what do we have here? Thick, chewy, chocolatey, mounds bars, buttercream, ganache, more coconut. I think I may have broken some laws somewhere with this one.

You know the drill. Get to cookin’.

                                      Mounds Bar Brownies With A Creamy Coconut Buttercream

  • Brownies-
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 fun size Mounds Bars
  • Buttercream-
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut (found with the mixers in the drink aisle)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream (more or less as needed to get desired thickness of buttercream)
  • Ganache-
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted coconut for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper then butter the paper.
  2. In a large glass (or other microwave safe) bowl, place the unsweetened chocolate, the butter and the 8 ounces semisweet chocolate. Microwave on 70% power for 2 minutes. Stir well, then microwave on 70% power for 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until all the chocolate is melted. Stir for about two minutes to help cool then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl,  stir together the eggs and egg yolk, the vanilla and the sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture then allow it to cool to room temp.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir well (no beating, just stirring). Stir in the 12 ounces of chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Lay the 12 Mounds bars in 4 rows of 3 down the length of the pan, pressing them down slightly into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle (make sure to not hit a Mounds bar) comes out barely clean, with just a few moist crumbs on it. Don’t overbake! Nothing worse than a dry crumbly brownie.
  7. Let cool thoroughly in pan on a wire rack before frosting. Also nothing worse than watching your frosting melt into a puddle on a too warm baked good.
  8. Meanwhile, make your buttercream.
  9. In a a large bowl (you’re welcome btw for all the dirty dishes. Don’t mention it.) combine the butter, cream of coconut and coconut extract. Beat well until mixture is smooth. Stir in the 4 cups of powdered sugar. I’d advise actually stirring at first to incorporate some of it before turning on the beater unless you are aiming to powder the kitchen. When you have it mixed in well, turn the beater on high and beat well for about 5 minutes. You’re trying to get a nice thick creamy mixture. Add the heavy cream in, one tablespoon at a time, until you get a good spreading consistency.
  10. When the brownies are completely cool, spoon on the buttercream and spread to the edges of the brownies. Chill while you make and cool the ganache.
  11. Ganache-
  12. Put the 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a small glass bowl.
  13. Microwave the 1 cup cream just to the simmering point. Don’t boil. Pour all of the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes or so. Stir well. The heat from the cream should have been enough to totally melt the chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined then let sit until the ganache has cooled completely and thickened up. Pour in a steady stream down the middle of the buttercream. Spread to the edges of the brownies. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
  14. Chill brownies in fridge for at least 3 hours to give the buttercream and ganache time to set.
  15. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, cut the brownies into desired size squares. These are extremely rich. I suggest small squares. Also, they are best if you let them sit for a while after cutting. They get fairly hard when cold. Though I know some people who like that, if you want them softer, let them sit.

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What I REALLY Think Of Valentines Day


Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

I’m not a big Valentines Day person. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy any holiday where you can go to the store and see an aisle set up just for special candy. What’s not to like? But otherwise? Not so much. I think it’s a day where a lot of men (and women somewhat) feel pressured to “be romantic”, “make this a day she’ll never forget”, “buy this, spend more, get diamonds, MAKE HER LOVE YOU!!!!”. And then what happens? You go out, you wait in an outrageously long line for an hour to get a dinner that was haphazardly prepared and served because 99% of restaurant staff absolutely hates working on Valentines Day. Trust me.. they do. By the end of the evening, you’re tired, you’re frustrated and you’re feeling anything but loving towards ANYONE. You get flowers and candy from a man who felt like crap cause he forgot what day it was (“Hello… February 14th, dude… that day meant for lovers world wide to suck up to atone for their sins the other 364 days of the year. Now go buy some dying roses at the grocery store!” hehe) and three days later you have dead flowers and an increasing waistline.

Yeah, yeah, I know. “Cynical much, Janet?” And honestly, it’s not that really. I am a sappy fool. I just don’t want to be EXPECTED to be sappy. Nor do I expect my husband to be sappy because someone, somewhere decided that it was a good day for it. Nope; ain’t happ’nin. So how am I sappy? How is my husband sappy?

I make his coffee at night so all he has to do in the morning when he’s half asleep is press a button. I make baked goods that I know he likes, even if I don’t like them. I give him my last chicken McNugget even though I’m still hungry. I kiss him when he has morning breath. I cuddle at night when sometimes what I really want to do is roll over and read a book, I watch Holmes on Homes when I’d prefer to watch an old episode of Roseanne.

Him? He makes me tea every single morning. Tonight, he is making me grilled cheese and tomato soup because my mouth still hurts from dental surgery. He doesn’t gripe at me when I spend too much at Trader Joes. He rubs my back when it hurts and doesn’t expect it to be anything but a back rub. He gets up with our son (his stepson really; mine biologically) at 6:30 every school day so that I can sleep because I don’t sleep well. He supports, financially and otherwise, my two teen boys even though it’s not his job. he loves my kids as his own to the point that he is not bitching about my daughter and her kids moving back in for 6 months while her husband is in Boot Camp. He was there to hold my hand and help me walk down the stairs when I had my stroke and he still does that when I’m having a bad day physically.

These are my Valentines Day Gifts. I get them every day of the year. I don’t need the calendar and some cheap flowers bought on the fly to know that he loves me. He doesn’t need me in a slinky nighty with a rose between my teeth (though I’m sure he wouldn’t argue) willing to try every position in the Kama Sutra for him to know I love him. We do our damndest to prove it to each other each and every day, in small ways and in big. We talk out our problems, we hold hands in public, we make love when we’d rather sleep, we sleep when we’d rather make love. We share, we love, we STAY… even when it’s not easy. Not just on February 14th.

This recipe makes a large 13×9 pan. Feel free to cut it in half and do it in an 8×8 pan if you’d like. Also, unless you make the glaze alcohol free, this is NOT kid friendly.

Brandied Cherry & Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 6 ounces dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup brandy (can sub 1/4 cup juice and 1/2 teaspoon brandy flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried coconut flakes (sweetened or not; your choice. I used unsweetened)
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 teaspoons dry instant coffee (optional- helps deepen the chocolate flavor but don’t run out and buy it if you’ll never use it again)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped good quality dark chocolate (I used a Trader Joes Dark Chocolate bar, chopped)
  • GLAZE-
  • Reserved brandy from the cherries
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and then line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray Sprinkle your coconut in another baking pan and toast at 350 until lightly browned. Don’t forget it in the oven and make charcoal. Don’t ask me why I advise this….ahem.
  2. Meanwhile, put your brandy and cherries in a shallow bowl. Stir to mix and then let sit while you make the brownies.
  3. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, using 45 second increments and watching carefully. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the extracts, coffee is using and again mix well.
  5. Beat in the melted chocolate.
  6. In a large bowl, mix your flour, salt, baking soda and coconut. Drain your cherries, reserving he liquid to use in the glaze.
  7. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients.  Mix just until combined then fold in the chocolate and drained cherries.
  8. Spread mixture into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake at 350 until a skewer or toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with maybe a few moist crumbs on it.
  10. Let cool in pan on rack until cool. For glaze- mix powdered sugar with the reserved brandy (that has now been wonderfully flavored with cherries). If desired, add a bit of red gel food coloring to make this pink…pink is always good. Drizzle glaze over cooled brownies 😀 Lift brownies out by the parchment paper then cut into SMALL pieces. Trust me; these are rich.

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(Mine and my husbands song)


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.  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 😛 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
  • 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,  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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I Actually Voluntarily Used Hazelnut

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Blondies-
Slightly chewy, definitely chocolatey and with a hint of hazelnut flavor.

Wow. Three days in a row blogging. I may just get back to my old habits if I keep this up. Hopefully, I can do it without gaining back any of the weight I’ve lost. That’s been the main reason I stopped blogging as much. fear can be a great motivator against doing certain things lol.

I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I am not a big fan of hazelnuts or anything hazelnut flavored. Usually, that is. I DID try Nutella and ended up liking it though it’s not as regular a part of my snacking as I know it is for many foodies. I have the feeling that there are some bloggers who regularly bathe in Nutella hehe.

Reason being, during my first marriage, I was blessed enough to get to live in Mannheim Germany for 3 years. It’s still a place I remember fondly and miss. I even still have dreams about it… the Volksfests, the Christkindlmarkts during November and December; the smell of spiced wine always takes me right back there… the Konditoreien (you haven’t had good pastries until you get them at a German bakery) and never forgotten, the candy shops. Oh.My.God… German candy is amazingly good. I still reminiscence over a blackberry truffle that has remained unmatched in my memory. The fly in this ointment however is that a LOT of the candies produced in Europe use hazelnut as a flavoring. And when I say lots, I mean L…O…T…S. So I got pretty burnt out on hazelnut anything. I think unless you’re a major fanatic about it in the first place, it’s easy to get tired of it.

I have to admit however that these blondies turned out quite well. I used a Martha Stewart blondie recipe. All I changed was to make the recipe 50% bigger to be able to use a 9×9 inch pan rather than an 8 inch and I added some hazelnut liquor. Believe it or not, next time I think I will add MORE hazelnut liquor (or buy some of this hazelnut flavoring from King Arthur so as to not add too much liquid to the batter. I was actually, for some strange reason, looking forward to the flavor. Probably just so that I could whine over how badly the blondie taste was messed up by the hazelnut taste but you never heard me admit that.

The nutty flavor mixed with the dark chocolate and the walnuts (yes, walnuts; I wasn’t willing to go THAT far with the hazelnut idea nor was I in the mood to shell 9 bazillion of the bitty nuts. I’m lazy. Sue me. YOU however are more than welcome to use hazelnuts instead) was quite good. The blondies themselves were slightly chewy, not really cakey at all which I liked. All in all, I’m rather tickled with this mutant blondie and will be making it again. Now to figure out what to do with the rest of a large bottle of hazelnut liquor.

I’m giving the recipe for the 8 inch pan here. I you don’t have a decent 8 inch pan (mine are rusted old pieces of poop) but have a 9 inch one, just make the recipe 50% bigger. These would work well on your Christmas cookie tray. They’re a pretty looking bar.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Blondies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnut liquor (or one teaspoon hazelnut flavoring)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts or pecans or cashews if that floats your boat)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Butter the paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar; mix well.
  3. Whisk in the egg, vanilla and hazelnut liquor (or flavoring)
  4. Add the flour and salt and mix JUST until blended. Gently fold in all but about 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and about 2/3’s of the nuts.
  5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top then sprinkle on the rest of the chocolate chips and the nuts.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack until cool, then use the parchment paper to lift the blondies out and cut them into squares.
  7. Eat. Drool. Eat more. Try not to drool more; people will laugh.

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Happy Blog-I-Versary To Me (& Something For You)!!

Today is my one year blog-iversary. Yep; I am a year old today. That won’t come as a surprise to most of you whom I sure often think that I have the maturity level of a one year old. Though truthfully, that may be an insult to the vast majority of one year olds, now that I think about it.

But yep… From Cupcakes To Caviar is one year old today. Now I can get one of those cool widgets that shows recipes from a year ago without the widget looking at me and saying “Whatchoo talkin’ bout Janet? You can’t use this yet.” And yes, in my little world, widgets talk. So do animals, both real and stuffed, my computer keyboard, various fruits and vegetables, my ceramic pigs and my toes. This could be why no one else ever wants to enter my little world. But that’s ok, because going by the above list, I already have too  much damn company for my own good. Oh yeah… and Twinkies. They talk to me. Lots. Usually they just say “eat me… NOW, wench!” and I am so frightened I obey. Twinkies are Demi Gods.

So today for my blog-i-versary, I bring you brownies. No no, not just any brownies. C’mon how often do I do things the normal way? No, these are special “don’t feed them to your kids” brownies. No really; don’t. They have booze in them, on them, drizzled over them. These are a cocktail in fudgy form. I don’t want to be responsible for drunken kiddos.

I was actually rather proud of how these turned out. The brownies are thick, incredibly fudgy and have a nice chewy bite to them (have I mentioned that I love Cooks Illustrated in recent days?) The original recipe came from C.I. with just a few minor changes made by me. But the buttercream frosting and the Kahlua Caramel Drizzle (yes, you read that right. Thank me later) are all me. The Kahlua drizzle is absolutely amazing if I do say so myself. It is thick and chewy and intensely Kahlua-ish (hey, I needed a word! Don’t be hatin’)

But that’s not all. For sticking with me for a year (or in some cases, since you started reading this post because someone told you there was a giveaway… it’s all good) I have a present for you. But to find out what it is, you have to click that “continue reading” link hehehe. Continue reading

I Have No Brain Cells Left

This why you haven’t had a post in a handful of days (not counting the guest post as that was written quite a while ago). I’ve been cooking, I’ve been eating… just have been in one of those blogger moods of not knowing what to write. Yes, every once in a while, my extreme creativity and ginormous  writing skills go on hiatus *cough cough… gets hip boots*.

I like to think that right about now, my writing “skills”, such as they are,  are lying on a beach on Tahiti with a Mai Tai and a trashy novel. I just hope they haven’t forgotten sunscreen cause I burn easily.

I have however been spending way more time than usual reading cooking blogs. It never fails to amaze me how many of them there are out there now. Some totally suck donkey toes, others are outstanding and make me feel like I need to give up blogging because in comparison to them, my blog sucks donkey toes. Continue reading