Candy Brownies

Mike and I had several premium candy choices left over from this Halloween, among them fun-sized Snickers (let’s be honest, they should just be called bite-size) and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. What better to do with leftover chocolate than to stuff it into brownies, then chop up some more and sprinkle it over the top of said brownies?

This recipe is adapted from one I found at Averie Cooks; I actually made a double batch, but the measurements below would yield one single 8 x 8 pan. You can use regular cocoa powder if you like, but I went with Hershey’s Special Dark, which is actually just Dutch processed cocoa. You’ll also notice that the recipe contains both coffee and espresso powder, which really enhances the flavor of chocolate without making it taste like coffee itself. One of the great mysteries of flavors, no?

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled for about 1 minute
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (it’s fine to use leftover coffee from the morning)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 12 fun-sized Snickers bars
  • 8 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut into quarters

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking tin with foil and spray with baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and coffee and mix well to combine. Whisk in cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt until well blended, then add flour and mix until just combined; you don’t want to over-mix your batter.

Pour about 2/3 of the mixture into your prepared tin. Take 8 of the Snickers bars and 8 Peanut Butter Cup quarters, placing them in four evenly spaced rows of four candies each; I alternated my rows so there was one of Snickers, then one of Peanut Butter Cups, then another of Snickers, and a final one of Peanut Butter Cups. Pour the remaining batter over the candy and smooth as much as possible with an offset spatula. Chop up remaining candies and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for about 30-32 minutes, being very careful not to over-bake. Brownies are done when a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs stuck to it. Remove from oven and cool in pan completely before cutting.

Remove from pan and cut into 25 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Marble Brownies

Until yesterday, I’d never made those classic cream cheese marbled brownies. How this treat escaped me for so many years I don’t know, but there you have it. While I’m still not eating chocolate, I really considered it yesterday, wondering if it would send me into migraine land. As they baked, a heavenly aroma of chocolate filled my kitchen. And who doesn’t like cream cheese, especially when it’s swirled in chocolate? Well, some people probably don’t, but seriously, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

These brownies went to work with me today, as a special thank you to our design team. My buddies in design are incredibly talented, have great senses of humor, and always make things work for us even with very short notice. Surely worthy of these treats.

Ingredients

For the cream cheese swirl

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour

For the brownies

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil, extending over the sides, and spray with baking spray.

Make the cream cheese topping: in a mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and 1 tablespoon flour and beat to combine. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat; remove from heat and transfer to a clean mixing bowl, then slowly beat in sugar, a little bit at a time. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each until just combined. Beat in milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat in flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each.

Pour chocolate batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Spoon cream cheese topping in blobs over the top. Using a dull knife or spatula, gently swirl the cream cheese into the chocolate batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan on a wire rack; once brownies are completely cool, lift out of the pan by the foil. Cut into bars.

Makes 24 (or you can cut them smaller if you like).

Espresso Brownies

While migraine life has kept me from having chocolate and caffeine for the last three years, my favorite dessert in the history of the world is tiramisu. I’ve had it once since being advised that such things could send me into major migraine land, and fortunately, I remained headache, vertigo, and aura-free afterward. Still, one doesn’t want to take too many chances, so I tend to refrain from such potential triggers.

I admit that I did take a teeny, tiny taste of these brownies, which remind me very much of tiramisu. Espresso powder is an essential part of these treats, and you can find it in the baking aisle at your grocery store, likely near the chocolate chips.

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the icing

  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan.

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

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and cocoa powder over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the butter melts. Remove from heat and add eggs and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour and stirring until smooth after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool brownies completely in pan before icing.

To make icing, in a small bowl, stir together espresso powder and hot water. Add powdered sugar, then 1 tablespoon milk, stirring until completely smooth. You want an easily spreadable consistency that isn’t too thin; you can add more milk if necessary, but do so very sparingly.

Pour icing over brownies and spread with an offset spatula, then allow to set completely.

Cut into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 24 generously-sized brownies.

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.

 

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.