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!

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

 

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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