Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box
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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! 

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)!

Super Bowl Brownie: Guinness Vs Snickers (Spoiler: You Win!)

February 03, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Candy Bar, Holiday, Nutty

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When I considered what kind of brownie I’d want to serve at a Super Bowl party, I immediately started thinking about making a beer brownie with a salty-sweet kick. Mmm, mmm. This competitive, showoff of a recipe — with just 5 ingredients — is the result.

Enjoy the Big Game on Sunday. I hope you stuff your face and have a blast. Here’s my play-by-play commentary on how to make this brownie:

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix (for this recipe, I used Betty Crocker Triple Chunk — yum)
  • 1 can (14.9 ounces) of Guinness Stout
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (half of a stick) of butter or margarine
  • 5-6 Snickers bars, or 1 bag of miniatures

These 5 little ingredients will give you a big crowd reaction at your Super Bowl party!

DIRECTIONS

Pour Guinness into a small saucepan and boil over medium heat until it thickens.

Over medium heat, bring Guinness to a boil and stir until it thickens. Chefs typically call this a "sauce reduction." I call it "saucy seduction."

It may take about 10 minutes for your Guinness to thicken up. (If you’re a coach who needs the game to go faster, mix 2 T cornstarch into 2 T of water, then add this to your boiling Guinness.) As delicious as this syrupy concoction LOOKS, it’s not very sweet; in other words, don’t lick the pan. But this syrup will add a dark, smoky undertone to your brownies. Honestly, you can hardly taste the Guinness unless you’re really looking for it!

Melt butter or margarine in the microwave, about 20-25 seconds. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, Guinness, and brownie mix. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the pan size. While brownies are baking, cut the Snickers into bite-sized pieces.

Slice up the Snickers bars so you can see all that salty, nougatty, caramelly, peanutty goodness that's inside.

When brownies are done and the crust is still warm, use your fingers to push the Snickers pieces deep down into the crust.  Make sure each brownie will have several bites of Snickers. That’s it. Wasn’t that easy?

If you're not careful, you will get a five-yard penalty for staring.

Cool, cut, and serve. Then hope that you don’t need to call unsportsmanlike conduct on your guests as they fight to get the biggest one.

Oh, the manly delights of the Super Bowl Brownie. (Manly, yes, but the ladies will love it, too.)

Super Bowl fan? Get some Guinness.

January 29, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Holiday

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Working on my Super Bowl Brownie recipe today and tomorrow. Will post a recipe soon. This photo is a hint.

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