Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box
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Bread Pudding Blondies with Whisky-Cream Sauce

May 24, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nut-Free, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Party

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You’ll be so dang pleased with yourself when you make this de-freakin’-licious recipe, so just get on it right now: It’s time to introduce your mouth to the fantasy-revelation of bread pudding blondies with a homemade whisky-cream sauce with toasted pecans. (The whisky is optional, but highly recommended.)

I’m salivating as I type this. Seriously.

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The amazing thing is that it all starts with a charmingly affordable mini-box of Jiffy brand yellow cake mix! Yep, that’s what I said. It’s probably less than a buck at your local market. Ain’t it cute?

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INGREDIENTS – BLONDIES

  • 8-9 cups stale bread, cut into cubes (I bought a 24-ounce sourdough loaf and used 3/4 of it)
  • 1 small box Jiffy yellow cake mix (9 ounces, or about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp rum flavor or rum extract
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh, soft raisins

INGREDIENTS – CREAM SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Half & Half (or whipping cream, if you want it richer)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2-3 ounces whisky (or you can substitute 1 Tbsp rum extract + 1 tsp vanilla)
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

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DIRECTIONS

Cut your stale bread into about 1-inch cubes until you have about 8-9 cups. (If your bread isn’t stale, cut into cubes and expose them to air for a few hours. Stale bread does a better job of soaking up your golden delicious batter.)

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the dry cake mix with the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. I like to use a fresh nutmeg and grate it myself; it makes my kitchen smell so good!

Add the eggs, oil, rum extract, and milk into the mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for about 2 minutes on medium. This is your blondie batter.

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Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Put all your bread cubes into the pan and then pour all of the blondie batter over top, evenly distributing the batter so the bread will soak it up, leaving no overly dry bread cubes.

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While the bread is soaking, sprinkle the top with raisins. It’s looking good, isn’t it?

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Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, try the toothpick test. Insert the toothpick into the center and look at how wet or dry the toothpick looks. If it’s glossy wet, it needs more time. If some small, moist pieces cling to the toothpick, the blondies are done (see photo below).

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The goal is to pull the blondies from the oven before the toothpick comes out completely clean and dry, which would indicate over-baking. (But this recipe has cream sauce, so if you overbake it, you’re still OK; you can pile on the cream sauce and still call it perfectly delicious!) Set the blondies aside and let them cool.

Now it’s time to make the cream sauce. Start by setting aside 1/4 cup of half & half into a small bowl. Pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups of half & half into a medium saucepan.

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Add sugar to the saucepan. Mix and cook over medium heat just until it bubbles, stirring occasionally.

While waiting for the sugar and cream to boil, mix 2 T of cornstarch into the 1/4 cup of half & half that you set aside in the bowl. Mix together; this is called a slurry.

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When the half & half reaches a light boil, pour in the cornstarch mixture and keep cooking on medium heat.

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In a minute or two, your cream sauce will be nice and thick. Now add the whisky (or rum extract + vanilla), the butter, and the toasted/chopped pecans. Mix it all together.

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If it’s too thick, you can add a few teaspoons of milk, water, or whisky to thin it out.

If it’s too thin for your preference, mix up another slurry of cornstarch-plus-liquid in a one-to-three ratio. You can use 1 Tbsp of cornstarch plus 3 Tbsp of water, or cornstarch plus milk, or cornstarch plus whisky, or cornstarch plus half & half. Add the slurry to the saucepan and cook on medium for another minute or two until it thickens up. (Never add powdered cornstarch by itself; it can create sticky lumps.)

To serve, cut a piece of bread pudding and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Generously dollop some of that rich, smoky, warm cream sauce right on top. You might even put the cream sauce into a gravy boat and let your guests top their own! So decadent! Store leftover blondies and cream sauce in the refrigerator.

Oh, people. I’m swooning for this guest-worthy recipe. Just look at that photo. How can anyone resist the beauty and the crave-ability of this Bread Pudding Blondie with Whisky-Cream Sauce?

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Mucho Margarita Blondie

April 10, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Chilled, Creative, Fruit, Holiday, Off the Beaten Path, Party, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple

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On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, celebrate with a light, sweet, tart, creamy, lime-bliss concoction that will knock your party socks off: the Mucho Margarita Blondie! PS – It’s one of the easiest recipes on this whole site!

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INGREDIENTS

  • White chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough, 16-ounce package
  • Whipped topping, 12-ounce tub, thawed
  • 6 ounces frozen-concentrated limeade, thawed (I used half of a 12-ounce can)
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup tequila
  • Optional food coloring, green and yellow
  • Optional garnish of flaked margarita salt or toasted flaked coconut
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DIRECTIONS
First, thaw both the frozen whipped topping and the frozen-concentrated limeade. While they’re thawing, you can bake the cookie crust and wait for it to cool.

If you love coconut and want to use it as a garnish, shake about 1/2 cup onto a cookie sheet in a thin layer. Bake at 350 F for about 5-7 minutes until it’s golden brown. Watch it carefully, because it will go from perfect to burned in a minute or two. Set coconut aside to use right when serving.

Into a greased 9×13-inch pan, spread the cookie dough, pressing it by hand into a thin layer. (If you want a thick crust, use a 9×9-inch pan and bake longer.)

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Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until the edges turn a rich, crispy brown. Set aside until it’s cooled completely.

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Now it’s time for the margarita part. This is so fast and easy, you will hardly believe it. In a bowl, add the thawed whipped topping (12 ounces), the thawed limeade (6 ounces), and the tequila (1/8 to 1/4 cup, depending on your taste). Stir with a rubber spatula until combined.

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At this point, your margarita topping will be zingy, creamy, and refreshing — but maybe not as pretty as it could be. If you like, try adding 5 drops of green food coloring and 2-3 drops of yellow. You could use a lot more food coloring, if you like, but I tend to use less. Just aim for it to have YOUR idea of a perfect margarita-esque appearance.

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Mix your margarita topping until it’s uniform in color. Pour your margarita topping over the cooled cookie crust and spread evenly.

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Refrigerate for 30 minutes so it sets up a little. Cut into serving-sized pieces.

If you want to balance the zing of lime and tequila, garnish right before serving with a tiny pinch of flaked margarita salt or with a big handful of toasted flaked coconut.

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That’s it! For your Cinco de Mayo party, go with a dessert that’s super simple, definitely delicious, and really refreshing: It’s the Mucho Margarita Blondie!

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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Banana Caramel Blondie

January 07, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Caramel, Fruit, Nutty

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If you love banana nut bread, but want it in a dessert form, look no further than this easy-to-make banana caramel blondie recipe. It’s nutty, sweet, moist, and ready to put an exclamation point at the end of any picnic, potluck, or home-cooked meal.

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CAKE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box banana cake mix
  • 2-3 eggs, as called for on the box
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 8-0unce package cream cheese
  • 1 to 1.5 cups walnuts, chopped
  • Optional: Chopped chocolate or (gasp) truffles

GARNISH INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces, or about 3/4 cup, caramel dip (I used Marzetti brand)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 ounces of dark chocolate, shaved

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DIRECTIONS

Decide if you want a higher, fluffier blondie or a shorter, denser blondie. If you want higher and fluffier, use 3 eggs; if not, use 2 eggs. Put eggs in a bowl and scramble them. Melt butter in microwave for about 40-45 seconds and mix it in with the eggs. Pour in the banana cake mix.

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Batter will be thick. Add cream cheese and mix thoroughly.

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Add a cup of chopped walnuts. If you LOVE walnuts, add a cup and a half! Do not spoon this delicious batter directly into your gullet. Resist!

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Pour this thick, nutty, heavenly smelling batter into a well-greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes until a center-placed toothpick comes out nearly clean. Watch it carefully because you don’t want to overbake this one. It’s sooo good when it’s tender and perfectly baked. Remove from the oven. If you like, you can chop up some chocolate (I got extravagant and used truffles) and shove those pieces down into the still-warm crust for a chocolatey surprise.

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I put chocolate into HALF of my banana blondies so my guests would have a choice.

Let cool. Spread caramel into a thin layer over the crust of your blondies.

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Here, you can see my “half chocolate/half plain” strategy.

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Garnish your caramel layer with a sprinkling of about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts.

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And, hey, because I’m a brownie ambassador, I’ve always got some chocolate bars stashed away for emergencies. So, I busted out some dark chocolate (Hershey’s Special Dark, in this case) and I cut some shavings onto the top. Life’s just better with extra chocolate on top, even if it’s just an ounce or two.

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Oh my. There she is. Your newest little blondie bombshell! She’s the banana caramel blondie, complete with walnuts and a little chocolate flair, just for good measure.

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