Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box
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Archive for the ‘Cream Cheese’

Blarney Brownie

March 16, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party

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On Saint Patrick’s Day, you want a green dessert that will dazzle your guests both with taste and a good old Irish sense of humor — so serve the Blarney Brownie. (Blarney means, among several definitions, “deceptive nonsense.”) See, the Blarney Brownie is a little like the concept of green beer; your guests will see “green” but they’ll taste “cherry!” In this recipe, some Leprechaun trickery and green maraschino cherries will ensure that blarney never tasted so good!

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BATTER INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box frosting-included brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box mix (I like the “extra egg” version, usually a footnote on the box)

FILLING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) marshmallow topping (the kind you drizzle over ice cream)
  • 1/3 cup juice from a jar of GREEN maraschino cherries (not the traditional red)
  • GREEN maraschino cherries, about 20
  • 5-10 drops of green food coloring
  • Green sprinkles

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Green maraschino cherries. They’re not in EVERY store, so call ahead! I found mine right next to the red ones.

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DIRECTIONS
Open box mix and set aside the fudge icing packet, which you’ll use after the baking. Be careful when buying your brownie mix for this recipe. Don’t confuse a “put-the-fudge-packet-INTO-the-batter” mix with a “put-the-fudge-packet-ON-TOP-OF-the-baked-brownie” mix. (The into-the-batter packets are usually not very sweet and won’t work as a frosting.)

Pour powdered brownie mix into a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and water to the brownie mix. Stir thoroughly. Spread 75% of the chocolate batter into a greased pan, setting aside 25% for later.

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In a medium bowl, place cream cheese and marshmallow topping. Mix with an electric beater on medium or medium-high speed until completely mixed, or about 1 minute.

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Add 1/3 cup of the green maraschino cherry juice. Mix on low speed (to avoid splattering), and it will turn a light, pastel green. Look, “light green” is cute, but I don’t think it’s green enough to feel REALLY celebratory, so I mixed in 7 drops of green food coloring, which gave it a lovely springy color for Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Cut the green maraschino cherries into big, chunky pieces — not too small. I chopped mine into halves and thirds. Pretty!

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Pour 2/3 of the creamy green batter in an even layer over the brownie batter that’s in the pan. Then evenly sprinkle the green cherry pieces over that.

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Pour the remaining 1/3 of the green batter on top of the cherries.

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Use the remaining 25% of chocolate brownie batter to drizzle over top of the green batter. This will be your top crust.

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Bake according to the box directions, but be sure to add another 10-15 minutes, since you’ve added a whole layer in there. Be watchful. It’s hard to do a “toothpick” test to check for doneness, because the green middle layer stays wet and gooey. Just try to reach a moment when the center of the pan is no longer wet and jiggly. Also, watch for the four corners to begin getting crusty and dry. You’ll probably notice some puffing up on all four edges; that is the chocolate brownie batter rising around the green batter. (The green batter has no eggs in it, so it will not rise or puff up.) When done, remove from oven and allow to cool. Don’t worry if it looks a little like a barren planet surface; we will be covering it up with frosting and sprinkles!

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When brownies are completely cool, it’s time to frost. Soften the fudge icing packet by placing it under hot tap water for 30 seconds. Knead packet in your hands to mix the packet’s contents. Cut away a corner of the packet and squeeze frosting over brownie crust. Spread the frosting in a thin layer over your cooled brownies. Quickly, while the frosting is still wet, decorate with green sugar sprinkles.

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There she is, your shamrock-green St. Patty’s Day Blarney Brownie, a deceitful cherry-flavored treat for everyone who has a little Irish in ‘em!

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Strawberry Triple-Cream Brownie

February 09, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Holiday, Nut-Free

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Three creams underneath a sweet strawberry pie-filling goo on top of a deep chocolatey brownie crust — it all adds up to decadent, sticky Valentine brownie bliss.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box directions
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) whipped cream topping, like CoolWhip (thawed, not frozen)
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp KoolAid unsweetened lemonade powder (optional)
  • 1 or 2 cans (21 ounces each) strawberry pie filling
  • 1-2 ounces rum or amaretto (optional; I used vanilla rum)

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DIRECTIONS

First, you’ll need to plan ahead just a little bit. Think about whether you want a thick and tall brownie or a thinner one.

  • If you want a thick brownie that you can cut into tall, towering servings, I suggest using a 9×9-inch pan (or its equivalent, say, 7×11). In this case, you can use either a regular or family-size brownie mix and 1 can of pie filling.
  • If you prefer thinner brownies that you can serve in big, wide slices, then use a 9×13-inch pan. In this case, you should use a family size box mix — one that says “9×13″ on the box — and plan on using almost 2 cans of pie filling.

Either way, yum. To help you decide, these photos reflect the “thinner” kind made in a 9×13 pan.

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To get started, make and bake brownies according to the box instructions. When they are cooled, you can begin making the creamy filling. Using an electric mixer on medium to medium-high setting, mix together the cream cheese, whipped topping, and sour cream until perfectly smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

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You can decide if you’d like to add a little lemony ZING to your valentine brownie. (This is optional, but I like the idea of cutting the sweet of the brownie and gooey topping with the zip of lemon and sour cream.) If you like, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened KoolAid lemonade powder in about 1 teaspoon of hot tap water, mixing until completely dissolved. Add to your cream mixture and beat it for 30 seconds until it’s blended in.

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Pour cream mixture over top of cooled brownies and spread it evenly.

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If you’d like to add a tiny little KAPOW to your strawberry topping, do as I did and add 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of rum or amaretto. I used vanilla rum and it was delightful! You can just mix it right into the can if you want to save a dirty dish. If you’re using 2 cans of topping for a 9×13 pan, add 2 tablespoons of alcohol to the second can of topping as well.

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Pour strawberry topping over the cream layer. (Below you will see how “one can of topping is not quite enough” to fully cover a 9×13 pan.)

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Keep refrigerated. Before serving, let it set up in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I suggest that you serve this immediately after cutting, because the goo and strawberries have a habit of slowly oozing over the brownie edge, which is actually sort of seductive in a valentine-y kind of way.

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Mardi Gras King Cake I (Blondie)

January 14, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party

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Mardi Gras revellers, take note of this stunning Fat Tuesday dessert greatness: this is my sweet take on a “King Cake,” which is typically a braided cinnamon bread with icing and colorful sprinkles. My version is less of a cinnamon bread and more of a big, uh, cinnamon cookie ring.

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Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, falls on the day before lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

The season of lent–with its actions of penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial–eventually leads to Easter, when Christians commemorate the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ. Perhaps that goes a little way to explain why inside of a traditional King Cake is a small trinket, usually a baby Jesus. King Cakes are popular at Christmastime, as well, a time when maybe a baby Jesus trinket makes a bit more sense.

Hey look, you got the trinket! (Look, I just follow the traditions; I don’t make ‘em up.)

Traditionally, whoever gets the piece with the trinket gets the HONOR of being king (or queen) of your Mardi Gras party and also the RESPONSIBILITY of bringing the King Cake next year. You might want to have a paper crown on hand. Here’s my friend Katie, after she got the baby trinket from my cake:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T margarine, melted
  • 1 box Snickerdoodle cookie mix (box includes 1 bag sugar cookie mix and 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar)
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
  • Bundt cake pan–prepared with cooking spray and 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 T margarine
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • A few dribbles of milk
  • Sugar sprinkles in green, gold, and purple
  • Baby trinket to push inside the crust after baking

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DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, scramble 2 eggs. Melt butter in microwave and add to eggs.

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Add sugar cookie mix. Do not add the cinnamon sugar at this point; save it for later.

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Mix in cream cheese.

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Prepare bundt pan first by spraying liberally with cooking spray.

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Add flour on top of the spray and shake, heavily coating all the surfaces that batter will touch. Shake out all excess flour. I kinda banged my pan against the counter to shake loose the extra flour so I could pour it out.

Now that your pan is prepared, pour about 20% of batter into it. Then evenly shake half of the cinnamon sugar onto the batter.

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Pour half of the remaining batter on top of the cinnamon sugar and spread it to cover the cinnamon.

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Evenly shake the remaining half of the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter.

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Pour the remaining batter on top and spread it to cover the cinnamon.

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Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, looking for a moist, but nearly clean pull from the center.

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Let cool for only 10 minutes, then push your little trinket deep into the warm, soft crust of your cake.

With your trinket safely inside the warm cake, let your cake finish cooling completely on a rack. Don’t let it cool completely in the pan; it will be harder to turn out of your pan.

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Once it’s cooled, it’s time to start your icing. Smoosh margarine against the sides of a small bowl.

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Add sugar. Mix in a few dribbles of milk until it’s just thin enough to pour in big globs.

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Spread this thick icing on top of your King Ring. Be generous with the icing; remember, you’ll be crowning royalty when you serve this!20130114-205806.jpg

Quickly, while icing is still wet, sprinkle with the colored sugar in a pattern that will please your Mardi Crew.

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One final piece of advice: When you serve your frosted cinnamon King Cake at your Fat Tuesday party, remind your Mardi Gras guests to bite carefully until the  Baby Jesus trinket is found!

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Shirley Temple Blondie (and the “Dirty Shirley”)

December 16, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Fruit, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free

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When I think of Christmas, I remember going to family parties and being allowed to drink a Shirley Temple, which is a 7-Up with maraschino cherry syrup and a cherry. So I turned it into a dessert. So festive, so special, so sweet and celebratory! This baked treat would also be kind of adorable for a girly-girl’s birthday, no matter what her age. It took two times to get this recipe just right. I didn’t think I’d love the end result as much as I did, but I do. The kicker is that I added some mini chocolate chips to half of the pan, creating the Dirty Shirley! Hahaha!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box sugar cookie mix (about 15-17 ounces, I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese (I used Philadelphia brand)
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow ice cream topping (I used Smucker’s brand)
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 tsp cherry extract (optional, but it sure adds more cherry “kick”)
  • Pink and/or white sprinkles (you’ll be so glad you added these)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, optional (I used Nestle brand)

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DIRECTIONS

First things first. You must absolutely prepare yourself for something that is this (see below) mesmerizing in its shiny, cheery, cherry goodness. Oh my.

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Now that you’ve prepared yourself, let’s get started. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds and pour it into a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix. Then add sugar cookie mix and stir well.

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Add cream cheese and blend it in completely.

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Set aside about 1 to 1.5 cups of the batter into a medium bowl. Spread the remaining batter into a greased pan. I used a  7×11-inch pan, which resulted in a super-thick blondie. You could easily use a 9×13-inch pan, which would make a shorter blondie.

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Drain the cherries, while preserving the cherry syrup; add 1/2 cup of the cherry syrup to the batter. Add 1/2 cup of the marshmallow topping. Add 1 tsp of cherry extract or cherry flavoring.

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Mix together into a dreamy, sticky, sweet, pink batter. Add large spoonfuls of cherry batter into the plain batter.

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Set aside. On a cutting board, divide the cherries into 2 piles: one pile that you’ll chop and one pile of whole cherries, which will decorate the top crust. Since you’ll want one whole cherry per blondie, look at the size of your pan and plan accordingly. I did 6 rows of 3 cherries, but a larger pan might fit more. It depends on how large you want each treat to be and how many people you have to serve. Finely chop your cherries.

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Scatter the chopped cherries onto the pink batter. So pretty!

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Use a knife to dig down into the plain batter and turn it over. Do it so that some plain batter comes to the top and some pink batter goes to the bottom. Don’t be too enthusiastic and mix the layers together too much — you want them to be twirled together into big, chunky swirls.

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If you would like to have some “Dirty Shirley” blondies, not just Shirley Temples, sprinkle some mini chips onto the surface. I turned half of my pan into Dirty Shirleys, uisng a scant 1/4 cup. If you want to dirty up the whole pan, about 1/2 cup should do the trick.

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Add your whole maraschino cherries on top so that each blondie, when cut, will have one cherry in the center. Since baking will turn the top crust golden brown, I suggest adding some pink sprinkles to preserve the pretty, pretty pinkiness of this blondie. Shirley Temple herself would shirley approve. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

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I used both pink AND white sprinkles…mostly because I am a brownie baking ambassador, and I just happened to have both colors on hand. Bake at 350 F for about 30-45 minutes, depending on the depth of the batter. Test with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let cool. The result was simply stunning, don’t you think?

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For Christmas, or for just about any special occasion, try this cheery, cherry, sweet, and memorable dessert: the Shirley Temple Blondie (or the Dirty Shirley)!