brownies

Caramel Filled Pecan Brownies

While I was with my family recently, one of my sisters mentioned that she was perusing the blog and came across a recipe with some horrendous photographs.  There are lots of these posts.  I haven’t taken them down, and I don’t plan to.  Even though running across them is like finding old college pics that someone else posted on facebook from a night you kind of want to forget, I’m keeping them up.  One of the main reasons is that many of them are good recipes!  But we all know that the world of food blogging requires more than just a good recipe.  You’d better have some pictures that make people want to make the recipe.  I don’t know about you, but these pictures make me want caramel filled brownies.

Caramel Filled Brownies-6

Caramel Filled Brownies-7I decided that I would make a little project out of going back through some of my old posts that have really great recipes and re-doing them, without taking the old ones down.  It’s fun to see how far I’ve come in taking pictures of food, writing about the food, and I even think I’ve become a better baker and cook in the past 8 years or so that I’ve had this blog.  Here is the old post for these brownies.  It was just about 6 and a half years ago.  These pictures were taken in our little apartment in China Spring while I was teaching school and Ben was in law school.  Things are pretty different for us now!

Caramel Filled Brownies

This recipe is from The Pastry Queen.  It’s a great cookbook.  Everything is delicious.  If you’ve read my blog before you’ve likely heard me (if you can “hear” something in writing) sing its praises.  I only changed one thing from the original recipe, and that was to use a bag of those caramel bits instead of unwrapping a bunch of caramels.  It worked out just fine.

I highly advise cutting these cold from the fridge and even eating them cold is a great idea.  However, warming one briefly in the microwave and topping it with a little vanilla ice cream isn’t a bad way to enjoy these brownies.

Caramel Filled Brownies-4

Caramel Filled Pecan Brownies

From The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (11 ounces) caramel bits
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Toast pecans for about 8 minutes, until they are fragrant but before they begin to get too dark.  Break apart any large pieces and set them aside.
  3. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang. Grease foil generously with shortening.  Set aside.
  4. Combine butter and chocolate in a medium-sized heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth.  Do not let it burn.  Transfer chocolate to a large bowl and let cool for a few minutes.  Add in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and mix (with a whisk, hand mixer or a stand mixer) until thick and glossy. (
  5. Whisk or stir in flour and salt. Transfer half of batter (about 2 cups) to baking pan and spread evenly, sprinkle half of the pecans over the batter and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes.
  6. Once the brownies cool, melt caramels and cream in a medium-sized heavy saucepan and stir over low heat until completely melted and smooth.  Immediately spread caramel mixture over baked brownies.  Pour remaining brownie batter evenly over caramel mixture and spread gently to cover, being careful not to mix up the brownie and caramel layers.
  7. Sprinkle chocolate chips and remaining pecans on top and bake for 20 minutes. Cool, then transfer to the fridge for at least a few hours.
  8. Lift brownies out of the pan by lifting the foil.  Remove the foil carefully, bring sure to get all of it off, especially around the edges and the corners where the caramel will stick. Cut brownies into squares.  Serve at room temp or cold.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

Chocolate Peppermint Squares

There are a lot of foods that hold great memories for me.  I am sure I’ve talked about that before, and maybe that is the case for many of you.  Of course during this time of year, where food is so important, I have the desire to make and eat a lot of those foods.  These peppermint bars are one of my favorite Christmas sweets that my mom makes and I’m happy to share them with you!

Chocolate Peppermint Squares | Hottie Biscotti

These layered brownies pack a punch and are best enjoyed cut into small squares.  The bottom chocolate brownie layer is dense and decadent.  The peppermint layer is sweet and smooth.  The chocolate on top is bittersweet and a perfect contrast to the sweetness.

Chocolate Peppermint Squares | Hottie Biscotti Chocolate Peppermint Squares | Hottie Biscotti

I used to sneak these from the freezer, they are delicious after warming up just enough to be chew-able.  They are also quite good at room temperature, just a little messy.  But licking chocolate off of your fingers isn’t all bad.

There are a few tips that make baking and serving these easier.

  • Line the pan with foil and butter it well.
  • Use an offset spatula to spread the mint and the chocolate layers.
  • Chill the bars well after the mint and chocolate layers.
  • Remove from the freezer and let the bars warm up for about 30 minutes before cutting, if you cut them frozen the chocolate will crack.
  • Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board.  Use a warm knife to cut into squares, wiping it clean after each cut.  At that point either serve or carefully repackage the squares and chill or freeze to serve later.

These are a perfect dessert buffet addition, and they would also make a great addition to a cookie plate along with other cookies.  I hope you try these and enjoy them as much as I do.

Chocolate Peppermint Squares | Hottie Biscotti

Chocolate Peppermint Squares

Ingredients

Brownie Layer

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Peppermint Layer

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Top Chocolate Layer

  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

Brownie Layer

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare an 8-inch pan by lining it with foil and buttering the foil.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, then set aside.
  3. Combine eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat until light in color and fluffy.
  4. Stir in flour, chocolate mixture and nuts.
  5. Spread into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool for room temperature.

Peppermint Layer

  1. Beat together powdered sugar, butter and milk until smooth.
  2. Mix in peppermint extract and a couple drops of food coloring to achieve the color and shade that you’d like.  My mom always did green or pink.
  3. Spread evenly over the cooled brownies and place in the freezer until set, at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Layer

  1. Melt chocolate and butter together.  I do this in the microwave.  Chop the chocolate roughly and cut the butter into chunks.  Combine in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 15 second increments, stirring well in between until melted and smooth.
  2. Remove chilled bars and pour the chocolate on top and tilt the pan to spread the chocolate around.  Use an offset spatula to even out the chocolate if needed.
  3. Freeze for at least an hour.

 

Shortbread, Salted Dulce de Leche & Brownie Bars

You have no doubt seen those bars on Pinterest, and floating around on the internet called slutty brownies.  I saw them posted on Pinterest by one of the last people I would have ever expected to allow the word ‘slutty’ to appear before her eyes, much less repin a recipe with the word in the title.  I immediately clicked on it when I saw her pin.  These things are ridiculous, and I mean that in a very good way.  A layer of Oreo cookies is sandwiched between a chocolate chip cookie layer and a brownie layer.  They make my mouth water and I’m pretty sure that looking at them just made my yoga pants stretch out a little more than they already were.  By the way, I did not do yoga in these pants today.  In fact, I did nothing.  Oh no, I vacuumed.  That’s something.

So here they are.  The slutty brownies.  And don’t you see what I mean?  Don’t you just feel a little fatter after looking at them?

Photo from whatsgabycooking.com

Anyway, the link I clicked on led me to the Londoner.  She uses boxes of mix, which is totally fine in my opinion, especially with something called slutty brownies.  The easier the better.  Another recipe, from What’s Gaby Cooking, uses scratch made cookies and brownies.  I typically don’t have that kind of time or patience, so I admire you, Gaby!  Jessica Simpson is apparently craving these brownies during her pregnancy, and I don’t blame her.

Now that you’re expecting to see how my slutty brownies turned out (and how much weight I gained after eating the entire pan), I did not actually make slutty brownies.  I just wanted to talk about them.  But I did make a three layered bar that brings together shortbread, dulce de leche and brownies.  I made the shortbread cookie and used a can of dulce de leche and a box of brownie mix.  I think they would have been better with a scratch brownie, which really isn’t all that hard to do and I wish I’d done it.  Next time.

Everyone seemed to like these.  The salt was nice next to the sweetness of the brownie.  The combination of textures, crunchy, sticky and gooey was quite delicious.  The only changes I might make would be to use more dulce de leche and, like I said above, make a scratch brownie.  You could add chocolate chunks or nuts to the brownies, I’d probably use pecans, but I’m biased.  Toffee pieces might also be really tasty, but that might be overdoing it…but not as over the top as the slutty brownies,

Shortbread, Salted Dulce de Leche & Brownie Bars

Ingredients

Shortbread Layer

  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
Dulce de Leche
  • 1 can of dulce de leche
  • a couple pinches of flaked sea salt
Brownie Layer
  • 1 family size brownie mix (for a 9×13 pan)
  • ingredients called for on the box (eggs, oil, water)
Directions
Shortbread Layer
  1. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until mixture resemble coarse sand.  Do not overmix.
  2. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan (greased if desired, I did not grease my pan).  Make sure to push the mixture slightly up the sides.  When you pour the dulce de leche on top you do not want it to touch the sides of the pan or it will burn and stick during baking.
  3. Bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes.  Let cool completely.
Dulce de Leche
  1. Pour dulce de leche into a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until it is smooth enough to spread easily.
  2. Spread dulce de leche over shortbread layer evenly, making sure it does not touch the sides of the pan.
  3. Sprinkle salt evenly and lightly over dulce de leche.
Brownie Layer
  1. Prepare brownie batter according to package directions and pour evenly over the dulce de leche layer.
  2. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.  Check for doneness on the brownie layer and bake a little longer if batter is not cooked in the middle.
  3. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.

 

 

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Candied Ginger and Sea Salt

Cravings are not something I get very often, but I had a serious craving for a nice fudgy brownie a few weeks ago.  I am going to blame (and thank) my pregnancy for this.  My pantry just so happened to be stocked with the perfect ingredients.  A bag of candied ginger, some Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate bars (thanks, Lindsey!) and my newly purchased Maldon flaked sea salt that I had been very anxious to use.  After adding some butter, sugar, eggs and flour, I had these bites of chocolatey goodness that perfectly satisfied my chocolate craving.

In searching for a recipe I found the sweet and salty caramel brownie in this Baked cookbook which is now on my list of things to make and not share with other people.  Since I didn’t have everything to make the caramel brownies, I used the basic brownie recipe and then added in some chopped candied ginger, chopped dark chocolate and sprinkled the brownies with some flaked sea salt before and then right after baking.  I didn’t measure my salt.  Use a light hand when sprinkling because a little goes a long way.  The salt with the dark chocolate is so wonderfully perfect.  And the ginger.  Oh, the ginger.  Leave it out if you really hate it, but it is subtle and delicious.  I love the interest it added to this simple brownie.

These brownies are very fudgy and dense, making them less than easy to remove from the pan.  I did not use parchment in the bottom of my 9×13, as suggested.  I just greased the pan generously thinking this would surely be enough to guarantee quick and safe removal.  I let the brownies cool, and then chilled them in the fridge so they would be easier to cut.  I think this little trick does make removing gooey brownies easier in general, but maybe they were a bit too cold.  I had a few casualties that weren’t pretty enough to be served and had to be eaten…what a shame.  It was kind of like cutting the first piece of pie that almost always falls apart and looks ugly.  After you clear up that first row, things do get easier to cut and remove.  Now, do not let all my negative talk deter you from making these!  The little frustration involved in cutting these is definitely worth it in the end.  Just use parchment, remove the whole pan of brownies once they’re cool, transfer it to a cutting board and use a large chefs knife to cut them.  I still thing chilling them for a little bit helps, but it’s up to you.

Other Tips

  • Use good chocolate, the chocolate is the main attraction.
  • Cut these into small squares, they are rich.
  • Give some away, or you’ll get sick.
  • Store them in the fridge and let them warm up for a few minutes before enjoying.

Dark Chocolate Ginger & Sea Salt Brownies

Adapted from Baked Explorations

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces good dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate
  • 4 ounces chopped candied ginger
  • Flaked sea salt, fleur de sel

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease sides and bottom of 9×13 inch pan.  Line the bottom with parchment, leaving a little overhang on the short sides if desired, and grease the parchment.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.
  4. Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted.  Turn off the heat and add both sugars.  Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan.  Let cool for a few minutes.
  5. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.  Add the remaining eggs and mix to combine.  Add the vanilla and stir.  Do not overbeat at this point.
  6. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and fold it a few times.  Add the chocolate and ginger and fold until a slight trace of flour remains.
  7. Spread batter evenly into the 9×13 pan, then sprinkle lightly with flaked salt.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Stick a toothpick into the center to check for doneness, only a few moist crumbs should attach.
  9. Sprinkle immediately with a little more salt (a little goes a long way) and let brownies cool in the pan, then cut them into squares and serve.

Frosted Cocoa Brownies

Oh my.  These are decadent.  I wish I hadn’t made a full recipe because now they’re calling to me from the kitchen, “Carrie, it’s just one more little piece of goodness.  No one will even notice that you ate me…except your jeans!  Mwahaha!”  I hate you evil brownies.

Desserts with which you have a love-hate relationship are usually the best ones.  This brownie recipe will be one that I will make again.  Simple ingredients.  Easy preparation.  Sinfully good.  And while I ate more than one for dessert, a normal person with a healthy relationship with sweets really only needs one to be satisfied.

I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen, the recipe sharing site from the Pioneer Woman.  Here is the link to the site.  I’ve enjoyed searching through all the recipes, but have yet to submit any of my own.  There are already so many recipes with a pretty great variety that I don’t know if I will.  One of the things I like about sites like these is that real people made the recipes and so they are usually pretty easy and tasty.  Thank you, Tasty Kitchen!

On the site these brownies are called “Are We in Heaven?  No…It’s Just the Brownies.” which is what made me take a second look at this recipe.  I thought it was funny.  Would I say that these brownies are like being in heaven?  No.  Nothing on this earth is going to be that good.  But they are incredibly good.

The brownie is fudgy.  The frosting is pretty sweet, so a thin layer is all you need. (more…)

Baked in Brooklyn

Sarah and I are in Brooklyn…finally.  I won’t go into too much detail because it will just get me worked up, but it was a bit of a nightmare.  Cancelled flights, 180 people on stand-by, an unplanned night in Dallas, a 6:40 am flight the next day, lost baggage, horribly unhelpful  AA baggage people, and now items are mysteriously missing out of my suitcase.  This was not the best travel experience.

Thankfully, we are here now and having a great time visiting my sister Lisa, my brother-in-law Randy and our 10 week old niece Maren.  Isn’t she amazingly cute?  She has the most rockin’ hair I have ever seen.  She is a whopping 9 pounds now, and quite fun to be around.

This morning while driving around Brooklyn we stopped in Baked, a bakery in Red Hook, to pick up some goodies.  Here is a link to their site.  Sarah had heard of their salted brownies; caramel and fleur-de-sel in a chocolate-y brownie.  I’d read that they also had incredible whoopie pies.

The bakery is a little funky and very cool.  The door is orange with an animal antler handle.  Inside the decor consists of white deer heads on the walls, orange details and warm wooden tables and wood grain walls and tables.  A crystal chandelier hangs above the counter to soften the manliness of the place.

Unfortunately the salted caramel brownie that we came here for was not on the menu today.  However, Sarah and I are not quitters, and we will not give up just because of a slight disappointment.  So we chose an assortment of treats to sample and share with each other.

Here is a tray of most of the goodies. Clockwise from top left are the s’more nut bar, rosemary apricot bar, oatmeal cookie, chocolate cookie, chocolate whoopie pie with vanilla cream filling, and mini Red Velvet cupcake.  Not pictured but very delicious are the banana whoopie pie, lemon pistachio vegan cookie and the Brewer’s brownie made with brewers malt.

S’more Nut Bar:  A slightly sweet graham cracker base with a chocolate and marshmallow center and peanut top.  The chocolate is thick, ganache-like and incredibly rich.  I would have enjoyed more marshmallow pieces in this bar, but it was still very good.

Rosemary Apricot Bar:  This was one of my favorites.  I usually do not like apricot, but with the rich buttery bottom layer and the nutty streusal topping I was a total fan.  The rosemary adds such a great savory flavor to the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.  It reminds me of these rosemary pecan cookies which I LOVE with a passion and cannot stop eating when I make them.

Oatmeal Cookie:  Another favorite packed full of oatmeal, coconut, dried cherries, pecans and white chocolate.  I might try to recreate these at home.

Chocolate Cloud Cookie:  Dense, chocolate goodness.

Whoopie Pie:  A softer version of an Oreo and so much tastier.  Rich and yummy chocolate cookie encasing light fluffy vanilla cream filling.  Tasty.

Mini Red Velvet:  An adorable treat with a perfect dollop of cream cheese frosting.  This a perfect single serving cupcake.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Toffee Brownies

A few weeks ago I caught the end of Oprah while on the treadmill at the gym.  Her guests were the contestants of the 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off, and at the end of the show they revealed the winner of the $1,000,000 grand prize.  This was the winning recipe, Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups.

These little treats look delicious!  And I know they must taste good as well.  How could they not?  The ingredients have no option but to create perfect sugary wonder!  Sugar cookie dough made into cups, dipped in chocolate and nuts, a spoonful of fruit jam in the bottom, topped with ice cream and fresh raspberries on top.  My problem with this is that it won $1,000,000 dollars.  They are somewhat creative I guess, but very little of this recipe is homemade or imaginative.

Were there no better recipes than this in the contest?  Seriously?  Who judges this contest?  A 10 year old who just LOVES ice cream sundaes?  Am I being harsh?

I got on the Pillsbury website and decided to go on a mission to look at other recipes that were contenders in the 2010 Bake Off. These brownies were among the finalists, and while they do use a brownie mix, there is more to these brownies than just a dressed up mix topped with ice cream.  On top of the brownie layer is spread a layer of sweet cream cheese and peanut butter goodness.  To finish things off, a layer of melted chocolate  is spread over the brownies and then sprinkled with toffee pieces.

Without having made the cookie cups, I can’t say for sure that these are better or more worthy of the prize, but they are very tasty.  Enjoy in small portions with a glass of milk because they are rich and quite chocolate-y.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Toffee Brownies

Courtesy of Pamela Shank

Ingredients

  • 1 box (19.5 oz) Brownie Mix
  • ½ cup Vegetable Oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 bag (8 oz) toffee bits
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.

2. In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water and eggs 50 strokes with spoon until smooth. Spread batter in pan; set aside.

3. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add milk and peanut butter; beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the toffee bits. Spoon mixture over batter; spread evenly.

4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until cheesecake layer is set and edges are light golden brown. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate 40 minutes.

5. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and cream uncovered on High 40 to 60 seconds or until chips are melted; stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake layer. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits. Cool completely, about 1 hour. For brownies, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Sweet Saturday: White and Dark Chocolate Coffee Brownies

It was 70° two days ago.  Right now it is 39°, cloudy and misty.  I’m wearing long pants, a sweatshirt and my fake fur lined boots…and I like it.

I am starting to truly like cool weather and I’ve always loved the things associated with this time of year.  Changing leaves, pumpkins, sweaters, warm socks, soup, and before you know it, it’s Christmas!  Anyway…

The cooler weather inspired me to bake something warm, rich and chocolate-y yesterday, so I found a basic and easy brownie recipe, halved it to better serve 2 people, and made use of what I had in my pantry.

coffeebrownie7

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