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Category Archives: Sweets

A Brony Birthday Party

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My little sister (that’s her with the black ponytail) threw a My Little Pony birthday party for her boyfriend last week.  That’s right, he’s a Brony.  A brother who likes My Little Pony.  I love that he’s secure enough in his masculinity not to have any shame about it!  He was so excited about the party and while she was taking millions of pictures of him posing with ponies, he declared it to be the best birthday party of his life.

Although I’ve sworn off decorated cakes (multiple times), she talked me into making the cake for his party.  (What convinced me was her offering a really strange amount of money – not like $20 or $30, but $32.73.  It was so weird and funny I had to say yes! lol)  It was a super-simple cake and I thought I’d share how to make one if you ever have need of a rainbow or MLP cake.

You only need a round single layer of cake.  If you make it in a 10″ pan, a cake mix will fit in it and the finished cake will serve up to 16 people, although it will be pretty difficult to serve.  I made mine in an 8″ pan and baked the rest of the batter into cupcakes, so this cake only served 8 but with the cupcakes it would have served 20.  You will also need red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and sky blue frosting for the rainbow.  Pack the frosting into disposable pastry bags, preferably fitted with couplers, though you can just slice the tip off the bag to pipe the frosting directly onto the cake out of the bag if you don’t own a lot of couplers or don’t want to buy them. If you are going to make this into a My Little Pony cake, you will also need extra green for the grass (I used a lighter green than in the rainbow). You’ll need some flower sprinkles (I used these) and a grass tip (Wilton #233, and ignore all the other tips – I didn’t end up using them).  If you want to make a pond, you’ll need some clear piping gel and sky blue gel coloring (available at Walmart by the cake decorating supplies in the arts & crafts section).

Slice your cake in half and squeeze/spread frosting onto one side. I made too much red so that’s the color I chose to use.

Sandwich the halves together.

Place the cake cut-side down to your platter or cake board.

Squeeze frosting onto the cake, starting at the middle with the red (I had to build it up a little to make it higher since it dipped down), making stripes in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  I just squeezed it out from my coupler without a tip and I thought this made the perfect width of frosting for each stripe.

Repeat down the other side and fill in the bottom of both sides with sky blue frosting to make it look like you’re looking through to the sky underneath the rainbow.

If you’re going to make a MLP cake, figure out where you’re going to put the ponies, then pipe a blue border to outline where your pond(s) will be.  Using your (clean) finger, spread a thin layer of blue frosting over the platter or cake board so that the silver (or other color of the board) doesn’t show through the piping gel.  Tint enough piping gel to fill the pond(s) with sky blue gel color and spread into the pond, creating some ripple effects with your spoon.

Pipe grass onto the rest of the platter and when you run out of light green, use up the rest of your darker green, then panic and use up your yellow.  Then realize there is no other color left that is suitable for grass so be really strange and spread some orange over the rest of the platter, hoping it won’t look too weird if you write a birthday message across it.  Sprinkle your flower sprinkles all over the grass.

Realize the orange is just wrong, and scrape it all off, rejoicing that you found some extra blue you had set aside in a bowl.  Use it to pipe a border for another lake and repeat the steps to create a second lake.  Rejoice that you saved a little bit of white frosting and tint it green to go around the lake, then steal some of the flower sprinkles to put on the new grass.  Much better.

To serve, cut it in half down the middle, then cut each half in half, angling toward the center.  Essentially, you are cutting it the way you would if it was right-side up, but from the side instead of the top.  Cut each thick slice in half and use a spatula or cake server to draw out one of the bottom pieces (most likely two pieces will come out and you’ll have to pull the top piece off onto another plate.  Once the first piece is out, serving the others is pretty easy as they just start falling onto your spatula.

TASTE THE RAINBOW!

Whoa. It’s like a rainbow…IN MAH MOUTH.

 

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Tennessee Banana-Black Walnut Cake with Caramel Frosting

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We celebrated Father’s Day early this year!  OK, truth be told, I made this cake for Father’s Day five years ago.  This is probably the longest it’s ever taken me to blog a recipe, but with the Black Walnut Banana Bread recipe I shared earlier this week, I figured it was about time.

You know a cake is good when you can still remember the flavor five years after you ate it.  This cake is what turned me onto using black walnuts in banana bread – the pairing is ever so perfect.  And the caramel frosting just puts it over the top!  Enjoy it for Father’s Day, or Mother’s Day, or just because you really need this cake in your life. Because you do.

Tennessee Banana-Black Walnut Cake with Caramel Frosting

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Cake:
1/2 cup (3 1/4 oz) solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 large overripe bananas
1/4 cup (2 oz) buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (4 oz) chopped black walnuts

Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup (7 1/2 oz) packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more as necessary
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) box confectioner’s sugar
2 cups (8 oz) finely chopped black walnuts, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

For the cake: In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in black walnuts.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare frosting. Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar and cream. Cook over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.

Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time until consistency is right. Sandwich 2 layers of cake with icing. Ice the outside of the cake. Surround sides of cake with crushed black walnuts.

*Cook’s note: DO NOT substitute English walnuts for black walnuts.

Black Walnut Banana Bread

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Well look at that, I wrapped a slice just for you! ;)

If you’ve never tasted the magic that happens when you combine banana and black walnuts, you need to try it, starting with this bread! Black walnuts used to be the only nut I used in my banana bread and I have no idea what happened but for some reason, I just stopped and totally forgot about them.  Maybe because they are harder to find, I moved on to using pecans, my overall favorite nut for baking, and didn’t remember the superior black walnut until my Mom gave me a bag from the Nifty Nuthouse recently.  I seriously wasted about three years on black walnut-less banana bread before she reminded me of the wondermosity that is the black walnut.

There is something really special about black walnuts in combination with banana. I also like to use them in banana cake- both in it and on top of the icing.  Just so good.  I can’t describe the flavor but there’s a little something extra to them that the regular walnuts don’t have.  I want to say they have a sulfuric  quality but I’m not sure that’s exactly right.  You’ll have to tell me how you would describe them because I’m at a loss.

I made this particular recipe very simple in order to showcase the banana and black walnut flavors without muddying the waters with butter or vanilla or cinnamon or  bourbon, et al.  I’m really partial to using oil in quick breads and cake because, in my opinion, it makes a superior crumb that butter just can not compete with, except in flavor, of course.  When the butter flavor isn’t necessary, I happily use oil.  I’ve made this bread both ways, and we both prefer the oil version – much more moist, tender, and almost silky.  The butter version is good, but not as good.  It’s also heavier and more dense.  I really recommend trying it this way before you scoff at the lack of butter.  You won’t believe how good it is!

Black Walnut Banana Bread

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2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 ½ cups (14 oz) mashed overripe banana
½ cup (3 1/2 oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (2 ¼ oz) black walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a large 9×5 loaf pan with oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the banana and oil and whisk until completely incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the wet mixture into the dry, then use the spatula to stir until somewhat blended. Add the black walnuts and stir until everything is just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto your hot pad-covered hand and then invert again onto a cooling rack to cool as long as you can stand it. Wrap up to seal in moisture if it doesn’t get eaten in one sitting. :)

Just had to share this cautionary photo of my thumbs after I’d tried to harvest my own black walnuts since they grow abundantly in the neighborhoods around here. It took me two hours to fill maybe a single teaspoon with tiny little nut shards (it’s so hard to get through the shell!) and my thumb nails broke through the latex gloves I was wearing while I was working on them and my thumbs were stained like this for weeks. I highly recommend paying for them – the free nuts are just not worth the effort!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

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Looky what I did! I kind of feel like a rock star, having made my first batch of cookies post-baby, and not even the bar kind. The kind you actually form the dough into individual balls before baking.  I still haven’t recovered the sleep I lost over them since devoting this kind of time to baking requires staying up at night while the baby is sleeping, but they were oh so worth it.  And who am I kidding, I do that every night anyway! :)

Mel worked hard to perfect her recipe, and the cookies are truly wonderful.  Soft and chewy, which is my favorite cookie texture, with the crunch of macadamia nuts and the complimentary sweetness of white chocolate.  Cookie perfection.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

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1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup toasted coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with a handheld mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) until the mixture is well-combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the salt and baking soda until incorporated, then stir in the flour until just combined; a few streaks of flour are OK. Add the white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Roll tablespoon (or slightly larger) size balls of dough and place on silpat or parchment lined baking sheets, 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes and remove from pan to cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

*Veronica’s Notes: if using unsalted butter, increase salt in the recipe to 1 1/4 teaspoons.  If your macadamia nuts are roasted and salted like mine, you might want to reduce the amount of salt. I omitted it completely since both my butter and nuts were salted. I added toasted coconut to half the batch (unphotographed because they were gone by the time I broke the camera out), and although they weren’t the classic white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, they were even better in their own class. I like both versions so I recommend you try half and half!

Recipe source: slightly tweaked from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Lemon Muffins

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I adore baking up lemony treats any time of year, but lemon has such a bright and cheerful color and flavor that I find it particularly appealing on a cold winter day.  I picked this recipe from my foodie mama’s cookbook to brighten up one such day a couple weeks ago.  Her cookbook is self-published, the same kind that churches print for fundraising, so it’s pretty straightforward without a lot of extra words, but at the end of this recipe, she said, “Wonderful!” so I knew it had to be good.  If she didn’t say anything at the end of her blue ribbon recipes, which I’ve tried and loved (like this banana bread and this peanut butter pie), I knew this one had to be a real winner.  And I was right.

Seriously y’alls.  The texture.  The flava flav.  It’s all kinds of wondermous.  It’s like someone crossed a pound cake with angel food cake and turned it into a muffin.  The lemon flavor is really incredible, with lemon zest and juice in the muffins, and a lemon syrup soaking down into them.  The only thing I almost changed was the walnuts, because nuts seemed such a strange addition to a lemon muffin to me.  Then I almost decided to use another nut,  like almonds or macadamia nuts because they seemed more suited.  I’m so glad I went with my foodie mama’s instinct because she never steers me wrong.  The walnuts are perfect and they even take on a pretty golden color from being toasted and baked, and look so appealing studding the yellow muffins.

Marina still has copies of her cookbook available and is selling them for $10 plus $3.50 S&H.  Email me at vraklis@yahoo.com if you’d like to purchase one!  You can see some of the recipes in her cookbook here.

Lemon Muffins

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Lemon syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Muffins
4 eggs, separated
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
3-4 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted & finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the sugar and lemon juice for the syrup and set aside. Butter or place paper liners in 12 muffin tin wells.

Making sure your mixer and beater(s) are completely grease-free, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff. Scrape into a separate bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light, about five minutes. Add egg yolks, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt, and beat well. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the lemon juice, beating until combined. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, then stir in the walnuts. Fill prepared muffin tins almost full to the top and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Leaving the muffins in the tins, pierce them several times with a fork while still hot. Drizzle the lemon syrup over the tops, then remove the muffins from the tins to cool completely on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe source: Marina Castle

Chocolate Italian Love Cake


I made this for our Valentine’s Day dessert because 1) it’s “Italian” (I put that in quotations because honestly, I think the only reason it’s called “Italian” is because there is ricotta cheese in it), so I thought it would go well with our Spaghetti & Meatballs, and 2) it’s a Love Cake, therefore perfect for Valentine’s Day. :)  However, I’m sharing this with you today, a regular non-Hallmark holiday day, because it’s simply a fantastic cake that should be enjoyed and made for those you love on any old day, not just days designated for celebrating your loved ones.

This cake is every bit as good as it looks.  I don’t like ricotta because of the texture, but it really works with this cake.  It’s not a heavy cake, which is dangerous, because it’s also addictive and the “lightness” makes it easier to trick yourself into thinking that eating half the pan by yourself isn’t all that obscene.  Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Chocolate Italian Love Cake

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1 package chocolate cake mix (I recommend using Betty Crocker brand), and the ingredients needed to make the cake according to the package directions

  • OR your favorite chocolate cake recipe that makes as much batter as a cake mix

2 lbs. ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (5.9 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, defrosted

Preheat your oven to 350*F and spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together your cake mix according to the directions on the box or prepare your favorite chocolate cake.  Spread into prepared pan and set aside. In another bowl, beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Carefully pour the ricotta mixture over the cake batter, trying to get it evenly distributed, then spread it as best you can over the cake batter with a spatula. The layers will switch during baking!

Bake the cake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, whisk the pudding mix and milk together until smooth and slightly thickened. Gently fold the whipped topping into the pudding until incorporated. Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Do not spread it over the cake if it’s even slightly warm or it will melt and ruin the topping. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. It tastes even better the next day.

Veronica’s notes: 1) I do not recommend my favorite chocolate cake for this recipe as it makes a lot more batter than a box mix and your pan would probably overflow if you tried it. 2) I have a stack of 9×13 baking dishes because I use that size more than any other. My largest one is a Pyrex dish and I highly recommend you use your largest one too – preferrably a Pyrex dish because they seem to be the largest.  I know every 9×13 dish should measure 9×13 but apparently they do not…or maybe some companies measure from the inside and some from the outside.  This recipe fills it up to the top so you really need to use a large dish.  3) If you live in an area that sells 5.1 ounce pudding mixes, that’s fine – it’s the size called for in the original recipe. You only need a cup of milk if you have a 5.1 ounce box, according to the original recipe. 4) I know ricotta can be expensive so if you have an Aldi in your area – go see if they sell ricotta there. Mine sells it for $1.68 for a pound. It’s also good quality! And get some pumpkin puree while you’re there – it’s usually $1 (or less) for a can and is very good quality. :)

Recipe source: adapted from Chew Nibble Nosh

Tiger Butter


If you need an idea for last-minute Valentine’s Day treats for your loved ones, I gotcha covered!  I’ve made four batches of this Tiger Butter fudge since Christmas and everyone has been so impressed with it, I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed of how easy it is to make!  Three ingredients, melt, stir, and swirl, and you’re done.

And if you’re wondering about the taste, it is oh so good.  The peanut butter layer is incredibly creamy and of course the chocolate is the perfect complement.  Need I say more?

Tiger Butter

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1 (24 oz) package vanilla almond bark candy coating
1 (1 lb 2 oz) jar creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for one minute and stir well. Microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring well in between, until completely melted. This takes 2 intervals for my microwave. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate and stir well after each interval, allowing the residual heat to melt the chips before microwaving again. If you overheat them, they will get too thick and you won’t be able to use the melted chocolate for swirling. Once melted, set aside.

Melt the almond bark according to package directions. Usually that would be to place them in a microwave safe bowl, microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes, stir well, and microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Once melted, stir in the peanut butter until creamy and smooth. Spread into prepared baking sheet.

If the melted milk chocolate has become too firm with standing, microwave for ten seconds, stir, then pour it over the peanut butter mixture in long horizontal lines. Drag a spatula through the lines in a vertical pattern, going up on one line, then down on the next, repeating until the pan is swirled. Allow to set for several hours or overnight before cutting. You may refrigerate the fudge to set it up quickly.

Stores great at room temperature, and you don’t even have to cover it. Great shelf life. I’ve left some uncovered for up to two weeks with no spoiling.

Veronica’s notes: although I haven’t tried it, you should be able to substitute 1 1/2 lbs white baking chips for the candy coating if you can’t find it in your area, or even real white chocolate if you don’t mind the big price tag. I like to use milk chocolate with peanut butter, but semisweet chocolate is perfectly fine and would create a more dramatic stripe effect.

Recipe source: adapted from The Better Baker

Cranberry Crumb Bars

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Are cranberries in season any more?  I haven’t been looking for them since they’re more of a December thing for me, but I had a jar of Killer Cranberry Sauce leftover from a large batch I made in December and I wanted to use it, so these bars were made…in season or not.

And oh my goodness, they are amazeballs.  I include orange juice and zest in my cranberry sauce, and there is even more orange flavor from the zest in the crust and crumb topping, which pairs so well with cranberry filling.  The crust and crumb are so tender, buttery, and crumbly – the perfect texture and I plan to use the base recipe for other crumb bars in the future.  The recipe does include a little bit of an unusual ingredient – almond flour or meal, but you can make your own by grinding almonds very fine in a food processor.  Also the Killer Cranberry Sauce is great in these bars, if you don’t want to make cranberry sauce, go see Bakerita’s recipe for her filling that doesn’t require cooking beforehand.

If you prefer very tart desserts you can skip the glaze, but for the sweet tooth like me, it is necessary to balance the cranberry.  Alternately, you could melt some white chocolate to drizzle over the top – a classic cranberry pairing.  Enjoy!

Cranberry Crumb Bars

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2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 oz) almond meal (almond flour)
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups Killer Cranberry Sauce
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice (or milk or water)

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13 baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be crumbly. Alternatively, you can pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor with the butter until pebbly, then mix in the egg until it all comes together. pat half the dough into the buttered pan. Spread the cranberry sauce over the crust, the crumble remaining dough over sauce. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown. Cool completely, then blend the powdered sugar and orange juice together in a small bowl and drizzle over the top. let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing into bars.

Recipe source: adapted from Bakerita

Who cares if cranberry is out of season when it makes such delicious eats?  Here are a few other ways to enjoy it…

Cranberry Chicken

Cranberry Bliss Cookies

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Oatmeal Raisin Bars with Brown Butter Icing

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When I look back on things I’ve pinned, sometimes I’m like, “I would never make something like that – it’s just not me.  Why did I pin it?”  But I know why.  The blogger’s enthusiasm about how good it is sells me every time and I end up pinning a lot of things I’ll never make, but still want to make because the blogger was so enthusiastic about how good it was.  Such is the case with these bars, but they are SO me so of course I had to make them almost immediately. :)

Miss Marsha sold me with her sheer enthusiasm, but hello, did I ever mention that cookies are my second favorite food group (with dip being the first)?  The recipe itself probably would have sold me without her enthusiasm.  It had been way too long since I’d enjoyed an oatmeal raisin cookie and making them in bar form sounded genius.  I don’t have time to be portioning out dough right now, but I can fo sho pat it into a pan!

These bars are just as good as my award-winning oatmeal raisin cookies and I even used the same icing on them.  Marsha’s recipe uses cream cheese frosting so please check it out to if you’d like to make them that way – it looks and sounds majorly delish but I just had to go with brown butter this time.  It’s my weakness.  Along with cookies and dip.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars with Brown Butter Icing

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½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (8 oz) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ¼ oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 ½ oz) old fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 cup (5 ¼ oz) raisins
½ cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Icing
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9″ X 13″ baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir into butter mixture until well combined. Spread into prepared pan and press into an even layer with floured fingers. (It may seem there isn’t enough dough to cover the bottom, but there will be). Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

While cooling, prepare the icing. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the solids separate and turn a chocolate brown. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough water to make an icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on warm bars and cool completely before cutting.

Recipe source: adapted from The Better Baker

You don’t have to go clubbing to hit up some good bars.  Check these babies out!

Fudge Brownies

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Pretty excited about these brownies! It’s my first time making a from-scratch brownie recipe that turned out better than a box mix (I’m not ashamed to admit I LOVE brownies from a box), AND had the shiny crackly top. Exciting stuff, at least in my world!  These were so fudgy and so chocolatey and so delicious, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce on top.  Ultimate dessert treat!  Treat yourself today…

Fudge Brownies

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1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups (1 lb) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (3 ¾ oz) Dutch-process cocoa (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs (cold)
1 ½ cup (6 ¼ oz) all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny-looking as you stir it.

Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, if you’ve heated it in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth. Add the flour, again stirring until smooth, then stir in the chocolate chips if using. Spread the batter into prepared dish.

Bake the brownies for about 35 minutes, until they feel set on the edges, and the center looks very moist, but not uncooked. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before cutting and serving.

Recipe source: King Arthur Flour

Other brownie favorites…

Mocha-Frosted Kahlua Brownies

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies

Mocha Toffee Brownies

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