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Quick Coconut Oil & Kahlua Brownies

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In looking over all the food photos I have in my “future blog” folder, I’m noticing a trend. Everything is baked in the oven! In the past, I’ve tried to save most of my baked recipes to share in cooler weather, but I just bake so much in summer, that’s really all I’ve got for you. Even the main dishes I’ve been making have come from the oven.  Am I the only one? Maybe I’ve got some Australian readers eager for baked treats & casseroles? haha!

So these are a box mix recipe which I know, is probably a food crime combining wonderful virgin coconut oil in conjunction with a box mix, but it’s really good! If you’re wanting a good from-scratch coconut oil brownie you might be able to just sub coconut oil in my favorite Fudge Brownies recipe.  But if you’re in a hurry, this one will do you.

My usual trick to make box mix brownies taste homemade is to sub melted butter for the oil, but I was out, so I used coconut oil. The slight coconut oil flavor mixed with the Kahlua (I used my homemade stuff) is pretty out of this world. Using the coconut oil changes the finish on the top and although it’s got that flaky crispy layer, it’s dull, not shiny. I also noticed they were harder to remove from the pan, but nice and fudgy and the flavor is much better than just following the instructions on the back. Enjoy!

Quick Coconut Oil & Kahlua Brownies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 fudge brownie mix
2/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua, room temperature

Mix all ingredients and bake according to package directions.

Veronica’s note: You want the ingredients at room temperature to keep the coconut oil from hardening during the mixing. If it hardens, it will not mix evenly. Also, if your box calls for 1/2 cup oil, use 1/2 cup coconut oil, not 2/3 cup. Mine turned out pretty thin in a 9×13 pan so if you like thicker brownies, go with a smaller pan.

You can’t see in this photo, but he’s already holding a half-eaten brownie while reaching for another. These are definitely Joshua-approved. I served these to five other children and three adults besides myself, they were a hit all-around.

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Raw Double Chocolate Brownie Bites

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I joined The Secret Recipe Club at the end of May, which was too late to participate in June, so I was super eager to finally get my assignment for July.  In this club, each month the participating bloggers make a recipe from another participant’s blog.  The blog is assigned secretly and at random, so no one else knows who’s making something from their blog that month.  I found the whole idea really fun and exciting!  (Don’t judge me.)

I was assigned to make a recipe from Ginger Lemon Girl’s blog, and my first reaction was a mixture of both trepidation and anticipation.  Carrie follows a gluten-free diet, and since I don’t have any dietary restrictions, I wasn’t sure if the recipes would appeal to me, but I knew I could adapt them if necessary and was ready for the challenge.  Once I started browsing her archives, I quickly realized that her recipes were good, wholesome foods that anyone could enjoy, and some of them were naturally gluten-free because no flour was involved.  Like this one!

When I came across Carrie’s recipe for Raw Chocolate Brownie Bites, I immediately thought of my love for Fudge Babies, and knew it was the one I’d have to make.

I made the recipe as it was written the first time (pictured above) and really liked it (maybe that’s an understatement, seeing as how I ate half the batch the first day!), though adding as much agave nectar to sweeten them as I liked (2 T) made them too soft for me. I wanted them chewier and a little sweeter (i.e. more dates!). I also wanted more of the chocolate dough so that it would completely cover the bottom of a loaf pan. The first batch, spreading it to the thickness I wanted, filled only 2/3 of the bottom of the pan. So I took Carrie’s rockin’ recipe and tweaked it a bit, and couldn’t help adding some mini chocolate chips to make them doubly chocolatey!  The chocolate chips only add 16 calories per Brownie Bite and don’t change the points, so I really recommend you put them over the top to make these bites, well, over the top. :)

For those unfamiliar with raw desserts, they are a lot like Larabars, but better (at least I think these are).  If you’ve never had those either, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about.  This isn’t like eating a candy bar or any sort of processed sweet, because it’s all-natural, raw, and much healthier (not to mention allergy-friendly), but they are very good!  I bet even your kids will love them.  Give them a try and see if you don’t agree.

Raw Double Chocolate Brownie Bites

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup pitted dates
1 1/3 cups raw nuts (I used 2/3 cups each almonds & pecans)
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon Fleur de Sel or kosher salt
~or ¼ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Soak the dates in a bowl of hot tap water for five minutes; drain well. (Skip the soaking step if you are using Medjool dates.) In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, grind the nuts until very fine. Add the drained dates, cocoa powder, and salt. Process for a minute or two, until nuts are very fine and the mixture sticks together quite easily, if it’s not already coming together in the bowl. With the food processor running, add the vanilla through the feed tube and continue processing until the mixture starts to form a ball. Just run it for another 10-30 seconds and if it doesn’t form a ball, check the consistency and see if it will stick together when pinched. If not, add a teaspoon of water and continue processing, adding more water if necessary (it shouldn’t be) until the mixture is sticky. Pat the chocolate dough into a loaf pan. It is OK if oil separates a little and forms a layer on top; it will soak back down into the brownie dough while it sits in the refrigerator.   Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and pat them down into the surface so that they will stick. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Cut into 18 squares (6 rows x 3 rows) and enjoy cold.

Makes 18 Brownie Bites

Per Brownie Bite: 107 calories; 7 g fat; 1.1 g saturated fat; 1.6 g polyunsaturated fat; 3.8 g monounsaturated fat; 0 g cholesterol;  33.2 mg sodium; 151 mg potassium; 12 g carbohydrates; 2.4 g fiber; 2.1 g protein; Vitamin B-6 2%; Vitamin E 8%; Calcium 2.2%; Copper 10%; Iron 4%; Magnesium 8.4%; Manganese 21.3%; Phosphorous 5.6%; Riboflavin 3.6%; Thiamin 3.3%; Zinc 3.6%      3 Points Plus

Recipe source: adapted from Ginger Lemon Girl



Caramel Walnut Brownies


These things are killer. But I must apologize because they have a very unique ingredient that can be hard to find:

Seriously! Did you know that this even existed??  Can I tell you how much I LOVE this product now that I’ve discovered it?????  Caramel cake–it’s every bit as delicious as you imagine it would be.  And the mix makes for some seriously excellent “brownies.” (I put that in quotations because they actually have no chocolate in them and I thought that chocolate was essential to a brownie!)

Do I even need to tell you how good these are?  Caramel on caramel with walnuts in the middle.  Ooooh, so delicious and they were a favorite at our family’s Christmas party.  If you haven’t seen the cake mix on your store shelves, see if you can get the store to get it special for you like I did.  It’s worth the extra effort!

Caramel Walnut Brownies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

14-oz. bag caramels
5-oz can of evaporated milk, divided use
1 box Duncan Hines Caramel Cake Mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X9-inch pan and set aside.

Place the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl and add 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk. Microwave for 1 minute on high and stir to combine. Continue microwaving on high at 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the caramel and milk are melted, smooth, and combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, cinnamon, butter, vanilla, and remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Stir until combined and no lumps remain.  Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Set the remaining cake batter aside. It will firm up as it sits.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Spread the walnuts onto a shallow pan and toast them while the cake is baking. Remove the walnuts from the oven when they are fragrant and golden brown.

Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes. Pour melted caramel over the semi-baked batter and evenly sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top. Take large spoonfuls of the remaining batter, approximately 1/3 cup, which is now firm, and press it between the palms of your hands. Pat it as thinly as possible without breaking it apart. Lay the batter on top of the walnuts. Continue patting the batter and placing it on top of the walnuts. There might be some overlapping of the batter, and there might be several spots where the caramel barely peeks through. Precision is not necessary.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack. It is helpful to refrigerate the brownies before cutting them into squares. Serve at room temperature.

*Veronica’s notes: I used an 8×8 pan, which made them a bit thicker, and I had to bake them five minutes longer to get them done.  I also found it difficult to cut them after refrigerating them overnight because the caramel was so hard.  I’d say either only refrigerate them an hour or two or leave them out for at least fifteen minutes before trying to cut them if you’ve left them in there for a long time.

Recipe source: Sassafras Cafe

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies

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I threw these together last-minute for a birthday gift with some leftover raspberry puree I’d made for another project and they garnered high praise from the recipients (the birthday girl, her sister, and my husband who nabbed a huge hunk for himself before I packaged them.)  I always test my treats to make sure they’re worthy of gifting and oh boy, these were good.  I meant to have half a brownie, but of course I had to eat the entire thing after the first bite.  I love the tart berry flavor with the sweet dark chocolate.  Oh yeah, baby.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies
Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (19.9 oz) Dark Chocolate Brownie mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup water
 ~OR your favorite dark chocolate brownie recipe
1/2 cup raspberry puree (recipe follows)
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease the bottom of a 9×13″ pan with shortening.  Mix everything but the raspberry puree about 50 strokes, or until glossy & well-mixed.  Pour into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.  Pour small puddles of raspberry puree over the top, then run a knife through them from side to side lengthwise and then width-wise a few times to create a marble effect.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted one inch from side of pan comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.  For easier cutting, place pan in refrigerator for a 1/2 hour. These can be frozen for up to six months in an airtight container.

Raspberry Puree
16 oz frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Place berries in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a minute, stir, and continue heating in 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until they are defrosted but not hot.  Their juices should be flowing.  Place a wire sieve over a bowl and dump the berries into it.  Stir them until they have given up about 1/2 cup of juice.  Pour the juice into the bowl you used to heat the berries and microwave, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons.  Stir the drained berries into the reduced juice along with the lemon juice and sugar.  You can process this until smooth or you can just stir it to leave it slightly chunky, which is what I prefer.  Store extra covered in fridge–goes great on pancakes.  Can be stored 10 days in the refrigerator  or 1 year frozen.

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Brownie Mania: Mocha-Frosted Kahlua, Peanut Butter Truffle & Chocolate Caramel Walnut

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I went a bit brownie crazy early in the week and baked five 9×13-sized pans (5 pans but only three kinds) of them.  I mailed two pans to a friend serving in Iraq (this required some mad packing skills & ingenuity on my part) for his birthday and the rest were frozen* until ready to use for two potlucks we were attending this weekend.

Here are the brownies I made (I dare you not to get a toothache after reading them): Mocha-Frosted Kahlua Brownies, Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies and Chocolate Caramel Walnut Brownies.

Although I’m partial to the Kahlua Brownies b/c they are my own recipe, I have to say that the Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies are my new favorite (yes, of all time!).  The Chocolate Caramel Walnut Brownies are very decadent, but somehow not as refined (if a brownie can be called refined) as the former two–they remind me more of a juvenile treat but this doesn’t keep them from being outstanding.  Brownies with thick, gooey caramel and dripping with chocolate chips and walnuts?  What could be wrong with that?

I have to apologize to all the people who are going to be aghast that I dared to use brownie mix instead of measuring out flour & sugar, but I just prefer the mix, people!  I’ve made scratch brownies and I just don’t like them as much. I guess I should try some more recipes before I set my mind against from-scratch brownies but why mess with perfection when it’s this easy?  If you’re passionate about this subject and have a great recipe that you think would change my mind, please share!

Kahlua Brownies
These brownies are best-sellers at the Flying Pig Gift Boutique.  It doesn’t matter what kind of outlandish treats I bring in to sell, if the brownies are sitting there alongside them, the other stuff only goes after the brownies are sold out.  Which never takes very long.

Brownies
1 box fudge brownie mix
2 eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/4 cup Kahlua

Frosting
2 Tbsp. Kahlua
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

Make the brownies: mix up everything, spread in a 9×13 pan (grease the bottom only) and bake at 350 for however long the box says.  Don’t overbake unless you like dry brownies.  Cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

Make the frosting: Microwave the Kahlua for 30 seconds or until boiling (I use a glass 1-cup measuring cup and fill it 1/2 way to the 1/4 cup line).  Stir in the instant coffee and place in the freezer to cool.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and then give it another 30 seconds, stirring again.  It should be melted but if not, continue this cycle in 30 second intervals.  Once smooth, set aside to cool.  Cream the butter then beat in the cooled chocolate.  Last, add the coffee mixture and beat it until everything is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl.  Spread over the cooled brownies.

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies
Recipe from Betty Crocker with instructions modifed by me.

1 9×13 pan of brownies, cooled (if using a mix, be sure to substitute melted butter for the oil)

Filling
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. milk

Topping
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Directions:
Beat filling ingredients until smooth and spread evenly over the cooled brownies.  An offset spatula is almost required for this task as the filling is thick and hard to spread.

Microwave the topping ingredients in 30-second intervals, stirring between, until smooth (should only take a couple times).  Cool 10 minutes, then spread over the filling layer. Again, I would never try this without an offset spatula.  The layer has to be spread very very thin and I can’t imagine doing it without one.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before cutting–you want the chocolate on top to be hardened so that the brownies cut easily.  I cut mine frozen and that worked fine.

Chocolate Caramel Walnut Brownies
Recipe from the back of a generic sweetened condensed milk label

2 boxes of fudge brownie mix

Caramel Topping
1/2 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
dash of salt
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups walnuts
2 cups chocolate chips

Prepare the brownies according to package directions (except substituting melted butter for the oil) and stick them in the oven to bake according to the package directions.  As soon as they’re in, start the caramel topping.

Melt the butter in a heavy 3 quart saucepan.  Stir in sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Blend in sweetened condensed milk, continue stirring, and heat to 245 degrees (approximately 10 minutes). I heated mine to 250 degrees to no ill result.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Let caramel cool while brownies finish baking.

Pour the caramel over the brownies when they come out of the oven.  Scatter the walnuts & chocolate chips over the top and let cool completely before attempting to cut into bars.

*Brownies freeze extremely well!  They retain their moisture and texture perfectly and are never any worse for wear after defrosting.  They are a perfect make-ahead treat in any instance when you need to make-ahead or just want to make something to keep on hand in case of emergency.

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