Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box
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Archive for the ‘Off the Beaten Path’

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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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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Super Bowl Truffles with Bacon and Porter Beer

January 14, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Creative, Decadent, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Salty-Sweet

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When the Super Bowl rolls around, I take my brownie blogging duties very seriously, and this year I’ve concocted a beer-and-bacon truffle that will please football party-goers across the nation. Behold! The Super Bowl Truffle, featuring a porter beer reduction with a smoky bacon kick.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 12-ounce bottle of porter beer (I used Breckenridge Vanilla Porter)
  • 1 pound of raw bacon — cooked, drained, and crumbled (I used a shortcut with a 4.3-ounce bag of precooked Hormel Crumbled Bacon, which is the equivalent of 1 raw pound)
  • 12-16 ounces of chocolate candy coating (the kind you can melt and pour into candy molds)
  • A few pinches of flaked margarita salt, optional as a garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Bake brownies as directed on the box.

If you’re NOT using pre-cooked bacon, cook your bacon and drain it while the brownies are baking. Set the cooked bacon aside for later.

When the brownies are done baking, remove them from the oven and let cool.

Into a large, deep skillet, pour the brown sugar and porter beer.

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Cook on medium heat until it begins to get syrupy, stirring occasionally. (Don’t get impatient and turn the heat on high.) Using medium heat, it will take maybe 20 minutes or more to get a syrup-like thickness. When a liquid is cooked until it’s thick, that’s called a “reduction.” It concentrates the flavor; that’s why beer selection is important. A slightly bitter beer will turn into a very bitter reduction. To be safe, I chose a mild, rich, smooth porter.

Chop your bacon into fine crumbles. Add MOST of the bacon crumbles into your thickened beer reduction — but set aside about 3 tablespoons of the bacon crumbles to use later as a garnish. 20130114-203644.jpg

Cook for another minute or two. Mine was bubbly and thick. Remove from heat.

One more thing about the bacon…I took a shortcut and used pre-cooked Hormel bacon (this 4.3-ounce bag said it was the equivalent of 1 pound raw). If you do the same shortcut, be sure to check for a 1-inch-square “freshness packet” that may be inside; you don’t want to pour that into your reduction. See photo below. 20130114-203622.jpg

After cooking your porter beer reduction, it’s time to cut those brownies. First, cut off all the edges, which will be too crisp to be a part of your tender truffles. I ate my crusts as soon as I cut them out of the pan. You should, too.

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Cut your crust-free brownies out of the pan and into a large bowl. No need to cut them into squares or be neat about it. Add the bacon-and-beer reduction.

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Stir the brownies and reduction together until they’re well mixed into a thick, smoky-sweet dough. Get about a tablespoon of dough and roll between your palms into a truffle-sized ball. Place onto aluminum foil. Repeat until all the dough is gone.

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I’ve kind of fallen in love with this Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil. It really IS non-stick!

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In a microwave-safe container, melt your chocolate candy coating. I like to use a small container so that my truffles have a nice, deep bath to dip in. Drop one ball in so it gets coated completely. Then, using two forks, fish it out. Place it onto foil and, before it has the chance to dry, immediately garnish it with a sprinkling of bacon crumbles and maybe some margarita salt.

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Repeat this one truffle at a time: Dip, garnish. Dip, garnish. Dip, garnish. Until you’re done. Your football-loving sports fans who come over to watch the game will be amazed at these eye-popping chocolate treats that are easy to serve and eat: The porter-beer-and-bacon Super Bowl Truffle! 

Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday on January 8…with the Elvis Brownie

January 08, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Decadent, Fruit, Holiday, Off the Beaten Path, Peanut Butter

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There’s only one Elvis. But there are TWO Elvis Brownies: The Graceland Elvis Brownie (left, with super-chunky peanut butter and Mallow Cups) and The Vegas Elvis Brownie (right, the same, but dipped in banana batter and pan-fried in butter).

Celebrate The King’s birthday today, you know you wanna, baby! See Elvis Brownie recipe and video