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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

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Easy Sour Cream Chocolate Layer Cake with To-Die-For Chocolate Frosting

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“OH my gosh.”

“Ohhhhhh.”

“This is so good!”

“I could just eat the frosting with a spoon.”

“You should go into the cake business.”

“How much would you charge for this cake?”

“My brother came over for cards after you left and we hid the leftover cake because it is our precious and no one is allowed to have it but US!”

It’s comments like these that I live for and one of the main reasons I love baking so much.  I know when someone eats a cake that I made, for that instant at least, they will be happy.  And their enjoyment is coming from something I provided.  That makes me feel good.

I came up with this cake at the last-minute to supply our family reunion planning committee with a dessert after lunch for our meeting last Saturday.  All the comments above were made after they dug in, except for the last which my cousin’s wife emailed me that evening and made me laugh out loud.

I have to say, and I know this sounds egotistical since I made it, but this is a really incredible cake.  The cake by itself is perfectly moist and chocolatey, and my favorite chocolate cake to date, but really, like another cousin’s boyfriend said, “I could just eat the frosting with a spoon.”  Really.  Incredible.

If you want to use this frosting on a cake that is from-scratch, I suggest using this Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Cake recipe because it is very similar to my cake mix recipe and the frosting would probably be perfect with it.  If it isn’t, you could always just eat it the frosting by itself.  It’s really all you need. :)

Sour Cream Chocolate Layer Cake
Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (18.25 oz) devils food cake mix with pudding in the mix
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted*
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
milk as needed

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8″ or 9″ pans and set aside. Place all cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on low until combined, then on medium speed for two minutes, scraping bowl often. Divide batter between prepared pans and bake according to package directions, about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Place on cooling racks for ten minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the racks to cool completely. Once they are cool, level the cakes, if necessary, to make for nicer stacking. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

Frosting: In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy.  Stir in cocoa. Add sugar, 1 c at a time, mixing well. Beat in vanilla and if necessary, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition, until you reach desired consistency. Frost cooled cake or store, covered, in refrigerator up to one week.  Bring to room temperature and stir before using.

*Notes: you can purchase Dutch-process cocoa powder online or in specialty stores (I get mine from my local cake supply store), or you can use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, which is now widely available.  In a pinch, you can use regular cocoa powder but the color will not be as dark, nor the flavor quite so chocolatey.  Although I usually sift cocoa powder before using it in recipes since it tends to lump, I didn’t do it for either the cake or the frosting, so you may be able to get away with skipping that step as well.

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Easy Lemon Cookies

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5 reasons why you need to make these cookies ASAP:

5. They’re insanely easy to make.
4.They’re bright and pretty!
3. They have superb texture–firm on the outside, chewy on the inside.
2. They taste like sunshine.
1. You can have two whole cookies for just 102 calories!

What, you need more reasons? What are you waiting for?!

I like to really douse the cookies with powdered sugar so they take on the "crinkle" look.

Easy Lemon Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (18.25 oz) package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest from 1 lemon
powdered sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, lemon juice & lemon zest until well blended. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes, and up to overnight to make the dough easier to handle. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and then drop into a small bowl of powdered sugar. Roll around until lightly or heavily covered, depending on how much you want. Once sugared, place on an ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 6-9 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.

Makes 60 cookies
Per cookie: 51 calories, 2 g fat, 7.8 g carbohydrate

This recipe is linked with GirliChef for BSI: Lemons!

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