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.

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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.

 

 

One-Bowl Brownies

one-bowl-browniesI imagine that one-bowl recipes evolved out of necessity, with a busy baker looking to cut down time on dish washing. When you live without a dishwasher as I do, you welcome such recipes, especially when you also only need one measuring cup, one spoon, and one spatula for them.

This original recipe came from a box of Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, which I usually have on hand in my pantry cabinet. I adapted it to include walnuts and chocolate chips for some fun texture, but you could certainly leave them plain if you’re not a nuts-in-brownies kind of person. While I’m not longer able to eat chocolate because of migraines, I continue to bake with it for my friends and family. Sometimes, simply breathing in the delightful scent of cocoa is all you need.

Ingredients

  • 4-ounce package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pats
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil, extending over the sides, and spray the foil with baking spray.

Roughly chop chocolate and combine with butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1-minute intervals until the butter and chocolate are completely melted, stirring frequently.

Add sugar and stir to combine; the texture will be sandy, and that’s fine. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Stir in flour, then walnuts, then chocolate chips. Using a rubber spatula, pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few fudgy crumbs; be careful not to over-bake.

Cool completely in pan, then lift out using the foil as handles. Cut into 24 bars.

Note: you’ll want to use a small offset spatula to separate the bottoms of the brownies from the foil after you’ve cut them. Next time, I’ll add a fine layer of sugar to the bottom of my pan to help keep them from sticking. 

Caramel Pecan Brownies

caramel pecan brownieI love recipes that come on the backs of tins of cocoa powder, cans of evaporated milk, and packages of candies. They are tried and true, the kind of recipes that bakers have relied on for parties, picnics, and everyday treats for years.

These caramel pecan brownies came from the back of a bag of Kraft Caramels, and they remind me very much of one of my favorite candies, the caramel turtle. They’re gooey without seeming under-baked and have a nice crunch from the pecans. Trust me, toasting the pecans is worth it – toasting brings out a richer flavor, which balances the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel very well.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 11-ounce package Kraft caramels
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled*

*Toast pecans in a 350 degree oven for about 8-9 minutes, until darker brown and fragrant. 

Preparation

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

Roughly chop your toasted pecans and set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Microwave for 2 minutes, then stir; you’ll have a few lumps of chocolate that remain. Microwave for another minute and stir again until mixture is completely smooth. Set aside for a few minutes to cool very slightly.

In a large bowl, combine sugar and eggs; add chocolate mixture and stir until well-combined, then add flour mixture and stir until well-combined.

Pour half of the batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until the top is set.

While your bottom layer is baking, unwrap caramels and place them in a medium microwave-safe bowl. With about 6 minutes of baking time left on your bottom layer, add heavy cream and microwave for 2 minutes, then stir very carefully – the heavy cream will splash pretty easily. Continue to microwave in 30-second intervals, carefully stirring between each, until caramels are completely melted.

Stir in 1 cup pecans, then pour the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer. Top with remaining batter and carefully spread to cover the caramel mixture; I used a small offset spatula and noticed that the heat of the pan and the caramel layer melted the brownie batter slightly, which helped make it more spreadable. Some of the caramel will peek through; that’s fine. Top with remaining nuts.

Bake for 30 minutes, until top is set. Cool completely before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Almond Glazed Brownies

almond glazed browniesMilton Hershey was the first American to develop a formula for making milk chocolate, and for that, I feel that we should honor him with some kind of national holiday. Where would we be without the Hershey bar and its individual rectangles of delight, waiting to be eaten brick by brick, or stuffed into a s’more, or dipped into a spoonful of peanut butter? What peanut butter blossom cookie would be the same without a Hershey’s Kiss? What glass of milk would be complete, when you were eight, without a squirt of Hershey’s syrup?

Ahh, Hershey’s syrup. As a person who doesn’t really like milk, this saved me many times as a child, making the required glass with dinner much more bearable. Hershey’s syrup isn’t just for milk and ice cream, though – it plays a starring role in these brownies, yielding a tender, almost cake-like texture. When baked, the tops of these brownies are a bit sticky, so they need some type of frosting or glaze; I chose to use a simple almond glaze, as chocolate and almond are among my favorite flavor combinations. You could certainly frost them with chocolate, though – I bet Mr. Hershey would like that.

Ingredients

Hershey’s Syrup Brownies

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-ounce can chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour

Almond Glaze

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • About 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • About 3 tablespoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan or spray with baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, chocolate syrup, and vanilla and beat on low, then medium speed, until combined. Add flour and beat until combined. Batter will be quite thin. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes; the top will look shiny and wet, but a cake tester should come out clean.

Cool brownies completely in the pan before adding the almond glaze.

Once brownies are cool, in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup, combine powdered sugar with 2 teaspoons almond extract and 1 tablespoon water. Stir to combine, adding additional extract and water to reach a moderately thick glaze that is still pourable. Pour over brownies and spread with an offset spatula. Allow to harden before serving.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

mintbrowniesMy cousin-in-law Robb recently made a mint chocolate brownie and shared the recipe with me. This is the first time I’ve ever made brownies with chocolate syrup, and it definitely won’t be the last. The brownies themselves are fudgy and cake-like at the same time, a texture I’ve never before achieved.

I can see this recipe getting adapted for raspberry or strawberry buttercream and a semisweet or bittersweet chocolate layer on the top. While the original mint recipe Robb sent to me calls for creme de menthe, I didn’t have any in our liquor cabinet (as I would imagine most people don’t). I did a bit of internet searching and found another recipe that incorporated peppermint instead, so I’ve used that here. I also tweaked the peppermint layer to taste, adding vanilla and milk, to soften the mint flavor slightly. The end result is something like an Andes candy, but way, waaay better.

Ingredients

For the brownie layer

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-ounce can chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour

For the mint layer

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons milk
  • green liquid food coloring

For the chocolate layer

  • 6 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan or spray with baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, chocolate syrup, and vanilla and beat on low, then medium speed, until combined. Add flour and beat until combined. Batter will be quite thin. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes; the top will look shiny and wet, but a cake tester should come out clean.

Cool brownies completely in the pan before adding the mint and chocolate layers.

To make the mint layer, beat butter and powdered sugar on low, then medium speed, until fully incorporated. Add peppermint extract, vanilla, and milk; add green food coloring to tint to a light green color.

Spread evenly over brownies.

To make the chocolate layer, melt chocolate chips and butter together on a very low flame. Cool to room temperature, then pour over mint layer, spreading with an offset spatula to cover completely.

Allow chocolate layer to set before serving.