Fudgy, Chewy, Chocolatey Brownies

I consider myself a connoisseur of brownies. I have eaten hundreds of different kinds of brownies. I, of course, have a checklist of what I enjoy in a brownie and what makes an exceptional one! It has to be soft and chewy. It has to have that rich, fudgy, decadent flavor. Not to bitter and not to sweet. In my opinion, a brownie does not have to be frosted. If it is tasty enough to stand on its own, then let it! But if it is frosted, the frosting has to be good enough to not ruin the brownie. Okay, I’ll stop and just say that this brownie is ALL of these things. It is also easy to make. No fancy ingredients and no weird baking methods. Just a yummy brownie! And just for the record, these babies are good enough to stand on their own. So now it’s for you to decide: Frost or not to frost?

BEST BROWNIES

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand alone mixer, combine butter and sugar. Then add eggs and mix until combined. Add vanilla, cocoa and salt and mix. Add flour and combine. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into a 9×13 greased baking dish. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean.

FROSTING

  • 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate squares. In a stand alone mixer, cream the butter for about 4 minutes. Add melted chocolate, 4 cups powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix. Slowly add milk until the mixture begins to look like frosting. Then add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and adding milk to achieve the desired consistency. The trick to this frosting is to keep on whipping. Make sure all powdered sugar is blended before adding more.

Cool brownies completely before frosting.

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies

Ok, to say that I have been obsessed with salted caramel over the past several months would be an understatement. I think about it, I dream about it, I want it all the time! I love the sweet taste of caramel with the distinct saltiness of sea salt at the end. I love the sweet and savory! I want it on cupcakes, custards, yogurts, milkshakes, breads, treats, you name it!

So, this cookie turned into a little salted caramel, chocolate, heaven on earth type dessert. Chewy brownie cookies with a creamy, salted caramel filling, I could die right now and be just fine! It happens to be the best thing that I have tasted in a long time. I tested it out on my Dad and my husband and both said,”winner!” And since I am in such a giving mood, I want you to have it, too!

Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies 

For the Cookie:

  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼  cup flour, sifted
  • ¼  teaspoon baking powder, sifted

For the salted caramel creme filling

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup caramel sauce (I used Nestle’s La Lechera-Dulce de Leche)
  • ½  teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter in a saucepan over low heat and gently stir until melted. Add 7 ounces of chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a stand up mixer, combine, eggs, sugar and vanilla and beat for 15 minutes or until pale and creamy. (The extreme beating gives this cookie its great texture! So set your timer!) Add in flour, baking powder, melted chocolate mixture, remaining 5 ounces of chocolate and mix just to combine. (Don’t over mix.)  Chill batter for 10 minutes. Dough should still be slightly gooey, but not watery.

Spoon 2 tablespoonful of the mixture, onto parchment lined jelly roll pan. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on pans before transferring to a wire rack.

Caramel creme filling and assembly:

Place butter in a bowl and beat until fluffy., about 4 minutes. Mix in powdered sugar and salt, add in caramel and beat until smooth and creamy.

Spread or pipe the frosting in between two cookies. Sandwich them together.

Yields 12 large cookies

Pumpkin Poppers

Oh, Pumpkin Poppers! You make the house smell like fall and you taste like a little bit of heaven in my mouth!

If you are a pumpkin bread lover, then this is a must try. We made these in the cooking class I teach to some young girls and not only were they a hit with the girls, I had several mom’s who said that they couldn’t keep out of them either. They have a deep, rich, spice, pumpkin flavor that will have your taste buds saying, “thank you!” This is also a great recipe if you have a few little helpers around. Who doesn’t love to roll these goodies in cinnamon and sugar?

PUMPKIN POPPERS

  • 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all spices in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Pour flour mixture into wet mixture until combined.

Fill mini muffin tins almost full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

After poppers have cooled a few minutes, dip in melted butter and roll around in cinnamon sugar.

Melt

  • 1 cube butter  (may need additional cubes)

 Mix

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cinnamon

 Yields about 3 dozen mini poppers.

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

This is what we had for our Father’s Day dessert yesterday. When I asked my husband what he would like for his big day, he was very specific in his request. “I would like an ice cream cake. Oreo. Ice cream. Lots of ice cream.” I jumped on that one! This is one of the easiest desserts out there and yet one of the most delicious! It’s so nice to be married to a man who knows what he wants! And remember friends, it is 110 degrees here in Arizona, so saying this dessert hit the spot is an understatement. What did you all have for your Father’s Day dessert?

OREO ICE CREAM CAKE

  • 30 Oreos, crushed
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 (half gallon) Oreo ice cream (cookies n’ cream), slightly defrosted
  • Caramel sauce
  • 2 (8 ounce) containers of Cool Whip
  • Hot Fudge Sauce

In a bowl, combine melted butter and crushed Oreo’s. Stir until butter has coated the Oreo’s. Press the Oreo mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Next, layer the slightly defrosted ice cream on top of Oreo crust. (I defrosted my ice cream by putting it in the fridge for about 45 minutes) On top of the ice cream, drizzle some caramel sauce. Then on top of that spread both tubs of cool whip. Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best. Cut into individual pieces and drizzle with hot fudge sauce.

Double Chocolate Oven-Baked Mini S’mores

Summer officially started here yesterday at 3pm. We started it with a bang, too. We were invited to a huge pool party with lots of fun, food and of course, mischief. How cool is it that the host had snowballs in coolers so that the kids could have a massive snow ball fight? It was only 100 degrees here yesterday! So fun!

To keep the fun going I decided that we would make a yummy treat today. My son has a love for s’mores. We aren’t going camping anytime soon and unfortunately, we do not have a fire pit in our backyard, so we did the best with what we had. Is there anything finer than Spiderman eating a s’more?

Maybe a Princess eating a s’more?

Even though these are a “mini” treat, don’t let the mini fool you! With chocolate below AND above the marshmallow, these s’mores are packed with sugar and overindulgence!

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE OVEN BAKED MINI S’MORES

  • 10  whole graham crackers (1 cup finely crushed)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, divided
  • 12 large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place graham crackers into a large plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and butter.

Place 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture in each cup of a mini muffin pan. Use the back of the tablespoon to press crumbs down to create a shallow cup. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Then break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.

Cut marshmallows in half crosswise using shears dipped in cold water. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly softened. Remove pans from oven to cooling rack; cool at least 8 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan. Break remaining candy bars and place in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Turn top-side up and let stand until set. (about 20 minutes)

Yields 24 mini s’mores

Ultimate German Chocolate Cake

Did you all have a nice Mother’s Day?  Mine was pretty good.  I got to spend all day in my kitchen, cooking up a storm, and then my kids all cleaned it up for me at the end of the day.  For me, that’s perfect.  I love to cook, but I hate to clean, so it was a real treat to know that I could just run wild and not have to worry about the mess!

One of my favorite treats is a yummy German Chocolate Cake, so what else would I make on Mother’s Day?  Now if there are any of you out there who don’t like German Chocolate cake, I have to say it’s only because you haven’t tried this one.  The grocery store and even the bakery versions are not the same.  In fact, they are so different that I would NEVER buy one.  Not worth it, in any way shape or form.  The homemade German Chocolate Cake is a whole different delicious animal!

In fact, by the time it was completed and ready to serve, I was so anxious to dive in for a piece that I forgot to take a picture of the entire cake, so you’ll have to settle for this one of just a slice.

I will preface this recipe by saying… as you can probably tell by the ingredients and instructions, the baking of this cake is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a while, and there are a lot of steps, but it is well worth it!  (And it helps if you have a few kids cleaning up your mess behind you, like I did)

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake:

  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature (it’s easier to separate the eggs when they are cold, so do that and then let them come to room temp)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Coconut Pecan Filling:

  • 1 ½ cans (18 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 3, 9 inch cake pans.  Then line with parchment paper.

For the Cake:

In a small microwave safe bowl, place the chocolate chips and water.  Heat for 1 minute.  Stir to combine the water and chocolate.  If the chocolate isn’t melted, heat for another 30 seconds, and stir again.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the egg yolks and mix to combine.  Add the chocolate mixture and mix to combine.  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.  Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 parts.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into batter.

Divide batter among the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire cooling racks.

For the coconut pecan filling:

In a large saucepan, beat together the milk and egg yolks.  Stir in the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Turn heat on to medium and cook 15-18 or until thick, bubbly and golden.  Remove from heat.  Add coconut and pecans.  Cool to room temperature.  (About 2 hours.  Frosting will thicken as it cools)

For the Chocolate fudge frosting:

In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter and the chocolate, stirring to combine.  Remove from heat add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, and beat until smooth.

When cake and frosting have cooled, spread coconut pecan filling between layers of cake.  Then using the chocolate fudge frosting, seal the sides of the cake.  Then finish with the coconut pecan filling on top.

Summer Breeze Bars

 

So it may not be summer where you are, but here in toasty Arizona, we have already surpassed the 100 degree mark twice. Heaven help me! I just had to make these Summer Breeze bars to remind me that there are indeed good things about summertime. This is a light, airy, buttery, fruit dessert that will take you back to your childhood. Yum, a family favorite growing up for sure!

SUMMER BREEZE BARS

Crust:

  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 recipe cream cheese filling (see below)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together 2 cups flour and powdered sugar. Cut in butter with fork or pastry blender until mixture clings together. Press into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar and lemon juice. Sift together ¼ cup flour and baking powder and stir into egg mixture. Set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
  • 6 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

In a mixer, or hand mixer, beat the cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Spread a layer over the baked and cooled crust. Sprinkle blueberries over this layer and cover with set aside egg mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Yields 30-40 bars