Amaretto Brownies

Chocolate and almond are great flavor friends. So when I found a little bottle of Disaronno in our liquor cabinet, I thought brownies with amaretto sounded like a great idea.

The funny part about this is that Mike and I aren’t big drinkers. He enjoys a good whiskey or bourbon, and I can manage a small glass of wine without getting a migraine so long as I drink tons of water with it. But we’re really not the kinds of people who have fully stocked liquor cabinets; when I need specific types of alcohol for baking, I usually buy miniature bottles from the state store. I have no idea where we got the amaretto, but it inspired these treats, which accompanied Mike to his masonic lodge meeting tonight. I imagine the masons – especially our friend Kevin – will enjoy them.

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/4 cups Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting

  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and stir to combine, then heat until the mixture is just hot, 110 to 120 degrees, but not bubbly.

Pour sugar mixture into a large bowl and add amaretto, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder, stirring to combine. Add eggs and stir until smooth. Add flour and stir to combine, until no dry streaks remain. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool brownies completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine butter, amaretto, and 1 tablespoon almond extract in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about 1 minute; mixture will be clumpy, but it will smooth out once you add the powdered sugar. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth between each addition. Add remaining 1/2 to 1 additional tablespoon almond extract to taste.

Spread frosting over cooled brownies; cut into 24 squares. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

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Reese’s Pieces Blondies

These Reese’s Pieces blondies, adapted from a recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction, were so delicious that they never even made it out of our house. I should be embarrassed to admit this, but Mike and I ate them all. That’s right…the whole pan. Granted, this was over the course of about a week, but still, we never do such things.

These blondies are as easy to make as they are delicious, requiring simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry (except maybe for the Reese’s Pieces) and just one bowl. I lined my baking pan with parchment paper, but you could use foil or grease the pan instead of you like.

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled for 3 minutes
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Reese’s Pieces

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk melted butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Whisk in peanut butter, then eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla until well-combined.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt and stir together using a rubber spatula; batter will be very thick. Stir in 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces, then spread batter into the baking pan, flattening as best you can to create an even layer. Sprinkle remaining Reese’s Pieces on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, then insert a cake tester in the center; blondies are done if the cake tester comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Be careful not to over-bake these; peanut butter treats tend to dry out if they’re baked too long.

Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan; lift out using parchment paper and cut into 24 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

Butterscotch Blondies

Last weekend I discovered three bags of butterscotch chips in my pantry cabinet. Even for an avid baker like me, this seems like quite a lot. On the back of the bag, I found this wonderful recipe for what Nestle calls chewy butterscotch brownies. Since I have a hard time calling something that doesn’t involve chocolate a brownie, I’ve decided to call my version butterscotch blondies.

I adapted the original recipe just slightly, using pecans (though they did suggest nuts) and a bit more vanilla. Next time, I’ll toast the pecans before including them; while they gave a nice crunch in the texture, their flavor got a bit lost with the butterscotch. Next time I might also include some toffee pieces as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels, divided
  • 1 cup chopped pecans 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl well.

Add flour mixture in three batches, beating between each to combine. Stir in 1 cup butterscotch chips and pecans; batter will be very thick.

Spoon batter into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan and sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup butterscotch chips.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until blondies are light golden brown on top and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan; cut into bars and store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 36 (or 24 if you cut larger squares).

Butter Pecan Blondies

Blondies are easy to make and easy to customize. Start with a basic batter and pick flavors that you like for your add-ins, then stir it all up, pour it into a pan, and bake. Simple, low-maintenance, and delicious – three of my favorite things! Just remember to keep your stir-in portions under control; you don’t want to crowd your dough too much, and you can always sprinkle more of the add-ins on top for extra flavor and texture; that’s what I always do.

Blondies are also a wonderful option for those living chocolate-free lives like me. I’ve always been a huge fan of butterscotch, so I’ve been thinking about a butterscotch blondie for a while now. Then I remembered the amazing combination of butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and pecans from these butter pecan cookies I made a while back, and it seemed like a great idea for blondies, too. I’m pleased to say that they turned out very well, with excellent texture and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butterscotch chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toffee bits, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, divided

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan completely with foil and lightly spray with baking spray.

Reserve 2 tablespoons each of the butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and chopped pecans for sprinkling on top of your batter; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar; mix well to combine.

Add melted butter and stir to incorporate slightly; add eggs and vanilla extract and stir well to fully combine. The dough will be fairly dry, so you’ll want to use your hands to fully incorporate your ingredients.

Add 1/4 cups each of the butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and chopped pecans; stir very well, using your hands if necessary to fully incorporate the ingredients.

Press dough into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the top with the remaining chips/bits/nuts and press them into the dough.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then lift out by the foil and place on a wire rack; peel foil back slightly and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, remove foil entirely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 24.

Shannon’s Paleo(ish) Brownies

My friend Shannon finished her master’s degree last week, and such accomplishments must be marked with baked goods. Shannon is very fit and healthy, so she requested some paleo(ish) brownies, which were a huge hit at the office.

This recipe is adapted from Civilized Caveman Cooking’s blueberry espresso brownies; I didn’t use organic products or drizzle the melted coconut cream concentrate over the top like he did, but apparently they were delicious nonetheless. As they bake, they filled my kitchen with a delicious coffee/chocolate aroma, so I’m glad everyone liked them so much! Congratulations, Shannon!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut cream concentrate, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine melted coconut cream concentrate, eggs, honey, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ground coffee, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl well, until the mixture is very well-combined. Stir in blueberries.

Pour batter into the baking pan, spreading gently in an even layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool brownies in the pan; cut into 24 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Super Fudgy Brownies

There are those who like fudgy brownies, and those who like cakey brownies. For me, brownies mean fudgy…the cakey ones may as well be chocolate cake. Not that I wouldn’t have eaten them back in my chocolate-eating days, but the fudgy ones were always my preference.

These brownies are super fudgy and adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe; I left them completely plain so as to not take away from their amazing fudgy-ness. They got excellent reviews from both Mike’s coworkers and mine (I had a video shoot today and took them to my dear friends at our media studio).

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, very lightly beaten
  • 1 cup flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in sugar, then continue to cook for just a few minutes until the mixture is hot, but not bubbly.

Pour butter mixture into a large bowl and add cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla, stirring well to fully combine. Add eggs, stirring to completely combine, then stir in flour until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 29-32 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan; cut into 24 squares. Using a small offset spatula, gently lift bars out of pan; remember, they are super fudgy, so you’ll want to be gentle so they don’t break. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Coconut Dulce de Leche Brownies

As I contemplated how to use up some leftover dulce de leche, brownies came to mind. My friends Scott and Diana helped me figure out several aspects of this treat last week, but what they’ll likely be surprised to discover at the office tomorrow is the layer of dulce de leche buttercream between the brownie and toasted coconut.

Yes, dulce de leche buttercream. Between a brownie and toasted coconut, topped with chocolate drizzle. They kind of remind me of the Girl Scout Samoa cookie, minus the shortbread…but that would be a great idea for next time. I wish I could try them, but Mike says they’re delicious. I’ll take his word for it!

Ingredients

For the brownie layer

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the dulce de leche buttercream

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the topping

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening

Preparation

Begin by toasting your coconut so it’s cool by the time you’re ready to use it. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet (you can line the sheet with parchment if you like, but mine toasted better without). Toast for about 8-10 minutes, checking and stirring every 2 minutes to prevent over-browning. Allow to cool completely before using.

Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper, extending the paper over the sides; this will make it easier to lift the brownie out later.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat lightly to combine, then pour into the dry mixture. Stir well to combine, but be careful not to over-mix. You want all of your dry ingredients to be absorbed, but your batter doesn’t need to be completely smooth; it will thicken and become shiny when it’s ready.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-28 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting and topping.

To make frosting, in a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add dulce de leche, then beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until very smooth and well-combined. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well between each.

Spread buttercream in an even layer over the brownies, then top with toasted coconut, pressing it gently into the surface of the frosting.

Lift brownies out of pan using parchment; peel parchment away from sides and cut into 24 squares. Place on a wire rack to drizzle with chocolate; it’ll be easier to manage the brownies if you follow this process, but you can certainly drizzle them in the pan then lift them out once the chocolate hardens.

Make drizzle: in a small saucepan, combine chocolate chips and shortening over low heat and stir until completely smooth and melted. Fill a zip-top bag with chocolate and snip off one corner, bearing in mind that the chocolate will be very liquid. Drizzle chocolate over brownies and allow to harden before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature (if stacking, place waxed paper or parchment paper between layers) for up to 3 days.

Makes 24.