Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box
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Mardi Gras King Cake II (Coconut Brownie)

February 04, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Party

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The traditional New-Orleans-style King Cake is more like a cinnamon bread, but this coconut-and-chocolate ring has even more decadence, color, and flavor, so it will be perfect for your Mardi Gras party!

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The inspiration for adding coconut comes from a Mardi Gras carnival krewe that has a popular “throwing-of-the-coconut” tradition, which drives Mardi Gras parade-goers wild! Over the years there were some coconut-related injuries at Mardi Gras, eventually leading to lawsuits and a reluctant discontinuation of the happy tradition for a year or two — until 1988, when the Louisiana governor signed into law the Coconut Bill, removing any liability from throwing a coconut during the Mardi Gras parade. Look, friends, I just blog about this stuff; I don’t make it up. So, HEADS UP! Here’s your recipe, comin’ at ya!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix (don’t use a mix with chocolate chips; they will stick to the bundt pan)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on box (use the “extra egg recipe, usually a footnote)
  • Bundt cake pan prepared with cooking spray and 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 box coconut pudding (instant or cook)
  • Milk as called for on pudding box (usually 2 cups)
  • 3 T margarine
  • 1 ounce melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 1.5 to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • A few dribbles of milk
  • 3/4 tsp coconut extract
  • Sugar sprinkles in green, gold, and purple
  • Plastic “Baby Jesus” trinket, for adding after baking (remember, Mardi Gras leads to the Catholic tradition of Lenten season—so Jesus is a part of this celebration)

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DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, oil,and water. Add brownie mix and stir until all is combined. Prepare bundt pan first by spraying with cooking spray.

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Finish preparing your pan by adding flour on top of the spray and shaking to coat all surfaces. Bang the pan against your counter to shake loose the excess flour and shake it out so you have a nice, thin, uniform layer of flour.

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Pour batter into prepared pan.

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Bake at 350 for about 25-35 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, looking for a nearly clean pull from the center. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and let it cool completely on a rack. Don’t let it cool entirely in the pan, as it will be harder to turn out of the pan.

Make coconut pudding as directed on the pudding box. I like the convenience of a no-cook mix.

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Load your prepared coconut pudding into a pastry bag with a long tip or into an electric cookie press (just like the one a Brownie Ambassador might have on hand). You are about to inject the pudding into the brownie. <Certainly worthy of a trumpet flourish.>

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Place the pretty, fluted part of the brownie face down, so you will be injecting the pudding from what will EVENTUALLY be the bottom of the brownie. This will let you leave the scars of entry on the bottom, completely invisible from your guests. Using the long tip, poke into the brownie every inch or so and move the tip around to make a cavity into which the pudding can flow. As you can see below, I made a TON of pokes into my brownie, using three rows of injections. Don’t be worried if you have some coconut pudding left over; you can remedy this by eating the pudding in your spare time. ;-)20130202-135031.jpg

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Before you turn the brownie over to frost it, insert the plastic Baby Jesus trinket randomly into the treat. Here is the trinket, going in head first! I found my packet of 6 plastic babies at a national-chain hobby store that has sewing and baking supplies.

Turn your brownie ring over so the pretty fluted side is now up. You’re now ready to frost it. Smoosh margarine against the sides of a small bowl until it is soft and pliable.

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Pour in the sugar and melted bittersweet chocolate. (I use “premelted” packets of bittersweet chocolate, as you can see below.)

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When you try to mix it, it’ll be too thick to do anything with it. So add a few dribbles of milk until you can at least stir it into a smooth, thick, chocolatey frosting.

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Add about 3/4 teaspoon of coconut extract, adding more or less to suit your taste. When you smell this heavenly homemade frosting, you’ll know what a treat is in store for you!

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Spread this thick, coconutty icing on top of your King Ring, allowing it to slowly ooze down the sides. Quickly, while icing is still wet, sprinkle with the three colors of sugar sprinkles in a pattern that will please your Mardi Crew.

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When you serve your King Cake, remind your guests to be careful until the inedible plastic baby trinket is found. The person who discovers the Baby Jesus in their piece is the King (or Queen) of your Mardi Gras festivities. May I suggest that you make a paper crown, just for your event?! Fun! Here’s my friend Katy, wearing the QK (“Queen Katie”) crown I made for her. Isn’t she gorgeous?

There is joy for the person you crown, but also responsibility; tradition deems that this year’s royalty must bring a King Cake to next year’s party! I hope you have fun making and serving this coconut-and-chocolate version of a Mardi Gras King Cake!

Chewy Ginger-Lemon Blondies

December 10, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Chilled, Cream Cheese, Decadent, Fruit, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path

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Christmas baking is so much fun, but why make ginger-bread (again) when you can make something that’s… ginger-better? This chewy, lightly lemony treat will be a way for you to “zag” at the Christmas cookie exchange, when everyone else is “zigging” with the typical peppermint or chocolate treats. Introducing… the Chewy Ginger-Lemon Blondie! 20121210-230317.jpg

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box lemon cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme)
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, divided
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 cup candied ginger, finely chopped (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 box cream cheese (8 ounces)
  • 3.5 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Microwave 1/2 cup of the butter for about 30-40 seconds, just until melted. Into a large mixing bowl, add lemon cake mix, 1 egg, and melted butter.

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Mix on low to medium speed for about a minute, until it is thoroughly mixed. It will form a very thick dough, not a “pourable” batter. Next, measure out about a cup of candied ginger, pour it onto a cutting board, and get your best chopping knife. (Candied ginger often comes in bite-sized pieces, which is much too large for this recipe.) Cut the candied ginger into small pieces, about the size of a pinkie fingernail or smaller.

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Put the minced ginger into the lemon dough and set the mixer on low for about 30 seconds, just until blended. Put the dough into a greased 13×9-inch pan and, using your hands, spread it into an even layer.

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Back to the mixer! In a new bowl, whip the cream cheese on medium to high for 1-2 minutes until it is fluffy and creamy. Add the remaining 2 eggs. Microwave the remaining 1/2 cup of butter for 30-40 seconds in the microwave until melted, and then add that to the bowl.

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Mix on medium until smooth, about a minute. Add the sifted confectioners sugar and mix completely into a rich, gooey batter. If you want a more lemony result, add 1 tsp of lemon zest to the batter. Pour batter over the bottom layer and spread evenly.

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Bake at 350 F for 35-45 minutes. When it’s done, it should be getting toasty brown on the edges. It will still be fairly soft in the center, but not liquidy. I used a center-placed toothpick to check for doneness, making sure the pick didn’t come out “wet.” (You can eat it while it’s still warm or after it reaches room temperature. If you’re not going to eat it right away, store it covered in the refrigerator. It’s delicious right out of the refrigerator — or heated in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.)

When serving, you’ll see that the lemon cake has taken on a golden tan color, that your sweet topping batter has turned tender and rich, and that the pieces of ginger have retained their magical, zingy bite–the Chewy Ginger-Lemon Blondie is a Christmas miracle, for sure!

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Gooey Butter Rum Blondie

October 18, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Chilled, Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Nut-Free

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For autumn, these gooey, buttery, rum-tickled bar cookies are just about perfect. (But, once you taste them, you’ll see that they’re perfect for any season, really.) But, before you make these, be sure you like goo, OK? Um, because they’re gooey. Just sayin’.

CRUST INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg

BUTTER-RUM GOO INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp rum extract (more or less, to taste)
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

DIRECTIONS
Melt 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick). I usually bust the stick in two and use a Pyrex measuring glass in the microwave, set at half-power for about 45 seconds, adding more time if needed.

Mix cake mix, melted butter, and egg in an electric mixer. Instead of a pourable batter, you will get a very thick dough of a rich yellow shade. Yum!

Grease a 9×13 inch pan with no-stick spray. I like to use a butter-flavored spray. The Pam brand has a few different flavors in their spray cans.

Press dough into the pan as a thin crust.

Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until creamy and smooth. This will make your ”buttery goo” much smoother, so don’t skip this step.

Whip it good.

Melt another 1/2 cup of butter, just as you did in the first step of this recipe. Into the cream cheese bowl, add the melted butter, 2 eggs, and rum extract. (Keep in mind that rum extract is NOT the same thing as rum.)

Mix until smooth. It will smell a little bit heavenly.

Add the sifted confectioners sugar and mix completely.

Pour the resulting goo on top of the unbaked, doughy crust.

Bake at 350 F for 35-45 minutes. It should be getting brown on the edges, but it will still be soft in the center. The following photo may help you know what to look for. Don’t let the edges burn, but feel free to let them get pretty dark brown. When I saw how dark I’d allowed my edges to get, I was worried I’d have to cut them off as scrap. Boy, was I surprised at how daggone delicious those edges were.

You can eat it while it’s still warm or after it reaches room temperature. If you’re not going to eat it right away, store it covered in the refrigerator. It’s delicious right out of the refrigerator — or heated in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. I haven’t tried this, but I think it would be awesome heated, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some butterscotch syrup, and some toasted pecans. <Ooh! I just got goosebumps.>

You want comfort food? This is your recipe, my brownie baking amigos: The Gooey Butter Rum Blondie!

Bacon Brownie with Maple-Pecan Frosting

September 10, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Salty-Sweet

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Butter-y, maple-y, nutty, and bacon-y joys abound, bite after bite, in this brownie fit for royalty. For you doubters out there, yes, bacon DOES go with brownie. For a few years now, it’s been rather stylish to pair bacon with just about anything, including chocolate. In fact, TWO of my friends (unbeknownst to the other) came up to me in recent months and pretty much said, “You’ve gotta make a bacon-and-maple brownie.” For the awesome, bacon-y suggestion, my thanks go out: to Kris Early, of Bella Beads Studio, and to my central-Ohio-homegrown-rock-star-and-X-Factor-Finalist, Josh Krajcik.

BROWNIE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box mix of brownies
  • Eggs, as called for on the box
  • Oil, as called for on the box
  • Water, as called for on the box

FROSTING INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple-flavored pancake syrup (I used Hungry Jack Lite Butter)
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar, more or less to get consistency you want
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked and drained (I used Sugardale, my father-in-law’s favorite bacon)

Mix and bake brownies as directed on box. While your brownies are baking, pan-fry your bacon and place cooked bacon on paper towels to let the excess fat drain.

When brownies are done, remove from oven and let them cool completely. While the oven is still warm, place the coarsely chopped pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them for 3 to 5 minutes at 350 F. If you skip this pecan-toasting step, you’ll have to pretend that your frosting has the same level of “ROWR” that can be achieved only via toasting. After about 4 minutes in the oven, your pecans will smell all rich and roasty and toasty. Remove them from the oven and let cool.

Place the butter in a medium bowl. Using the backside of a spoon, smoosh the butter against the sides of the bowl to smooth it out. Smooooooosh!

Mix in the maple syrup. It will look a little gross. Kind of shiny and flecky and slimy. No worries.

Sift your confectioner’s sugar and add it to the bowl. Mix until smooth. It’ll probably still look a little gross. No worries.

Add toasted pecans and mix. It’s going to start looking kind of delicious. Resist the urge to spoon it by the tablespoon into your mouth.

Take 9 of the 12 slices of cooked bacon and chop them coarsely. (Set aside the other 3 slices of bacon to use as a garnish later.) Add the 9 chopped bacon pieces to the frosting bowl and stir completely.

There’s your bacon frosting, my brownie friends. Pour this lumpy, bumpy, smoky, sultry frosting onto the cooled brownies. Spread it into a uniform layer. Do not stick your face onto the surface and begin a hands-free eating session.

Garnish by tearing up the 3 slices of cooked bacon that you set aside. Artfully place the torn bacon pieces on top of the frosting.

Keep refrigerated until serving.

There it is, brownie admirers from around the globe. It’s the Bacon Brownie with Maple-Pecan Frosting, a dessert that will astonish, delight, and satisfy all of the bacon lovers in your life.

If you like this recipe, you may also like these recipes:

Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie

Butterscotch Blondies with Sauteed Pecans