Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Blast from the past..





















Every Christmas while I was growing up my mom's friend Carl would bake us the most decadent brownies that I would go crazy for. Gooey caramel sandwiched between rich chocolate brownie with tons of chocolate chips. He called them Ooey Gooies and there was a good reason for the nme. They were by far the best brownie I had ever had and they still are. My mom got the recipe for me and it just appeared way too much for me to handle at the time. I recently tried to find the original recipe to see if I would still be overwhelmed, but I could not find it. Anyway, when I saw the original recipe years ago I knew there had to be something out there similar which would not require as much work. I am not sure where I found this version of the recipe, but I think it may have been on Allrecipes. There are several variations of this recipe online, but the one below I have found works best. Everybody loves these brownies and I know you will.

Caramel (Turtle) Brownies
recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 pound whole pecans (I did not include these in mine as I prefer brownies without nuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Set aside.

Unwrap caramels and place in saucepan with 2 Tablespoons evaporated milk. Melt over medium to low heat, stirring constantly. In a large bowl, combine the remaining evaporated milk, dry cake mix, and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Spread half of this mixture in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove brownies from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips and drizzle
melted caramels over the top. Drop remaining cake mixture by teaspoonfuls over all. Return to oven for 20 minutes. Garnish with whole pecans if you'd like.

My kitchen does not have the best lighting, but this is what they looked like right out of the oven.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Squares

Mmm...




















I saw this recipe ages ago on Bake or Break. I knew I wanted to make the recipe so I emailed it to myself and forgot about. Then this past week I went to CVS to buy some candy for my team at work. I was looking at the Valentines Day candy and noticed a display of Christmas decorations marked 90% off. I thought "Wouldn't it be nice if they had Christmas candy on sale." Then to my luck, I turned around and found Christmas Candy 90% off! I bought bags of Resse's miniature peanut butter cups, Hershey's kisses, Hershey's dark chocolate kisses, and Hershey's miniatures all for only 29 cents a bag! Needless to say I bought a ton (i.e. 24 bags). I brought 4 bags home to use in baking and left the rest at work. Since I had all this candy, I knew it was the perfect time to make these bars. For personal reasons I decided last week I was not going to eat any candy, sweets, or baked goods for a month. In other words I gave up all dessert until Valentines Day. Since I was not able to eat these I can not tell you if they were good or not, but my co-workers seemed to genuinly enjoy them today. If I were to make them again and I was going to eat them I think I would use Twix instead of Butterfinger.

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Squares
recipe adapted from My Recipes

1 (16-oz.) package Nutter Butters, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 & 1/2 ounces peanut butter cups (about 25 miniature cups), coarsely chopped
4 ounces Butterfinger candy bars (about 7 small candy bars), coarsely chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Combine crushed cookies and butter in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into bottom of a greased aluminum foil-lined 13" x 9" pan, allowing foil to extend over ends of pan. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes.

Combine condensed milk, peanut butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl, stirring until smooth.

Sprinkle chopped candy bars and chocolate morsels over crust. Drizzle condensed milk mixture over coconut.

Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in pan. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of pan. Peel foil away from sides of uncut brownies, and cut into bars.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Personalized Cupcakes

Happy Birthday!

















Today is the birthday of two of my co-workers, Marjorie and Daniel. To celebrate their birthdays I decided I would make them these cupcakes. At one point I was going to make them a peanut butter pie, only to find out that Daniel does not like peanut butter. Normally not liking peanut butter would be unacceptable in my book, but since Daniel is not American I suppose it is excusable. Anyhow, I got the okay on chocolate cupcakes (chocolate is loved universally after all) and decided I would make these.

I made this chocolate recipe once before on my blog when I made Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting. I did not want to repeat the recipe, but they were so good the first time I could not resist. I did not make the frosting, which nobody seemed to notice, but I did make the little "M" and "D" decorations. I this decorating technique in the book Hello, Cupcake! which my boyfriend gave me for Christmas. I do not have any pictures of me making the letters, but I will give you detailed instructions. The book is fantastic so if you have time definitely check it out. To ensure you do not feel cheated with a repeat recipe and store bought frosting I have included a frosting recipe below. I hope you enjoy!

Happy Birthday Personalized Cupcakes
cupcake recipe from All Recipes

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 package chocolate cake mix (I used chocolate fudge cake mix)
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (I also used chocolate fudge pudding mix)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (dust these in flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into 24 lined muffin cups.


Bake for 20 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Simple Buttercream Frosting
from The Culinary Institute of America

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted, plus extra as needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk plus extra as needed

Cream the butter on medium speed until it is very light in texture, 2 minutes. Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on a low speed until the sugar and butter are blended, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Increase the speed to medium and, with the mixer running, add the cream in a thin stream.

Note: Once blended, buttercreams can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. To use after refrigeration, let the buttercream soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until it is a smooth, light spreading consistency, 3-4 minutes.
To Decorate Cupcakes:

Edging the Cupcakes
from Hello, Cupcake!

Spread the cooled cupcakes with a generous dollop of room temperature frosting. Smooth evenly. Spread a large amount of sprinkles, sugar, or other ingredient in a small shallow bowl. While the frosting is still moist, hold the cupcake by its base and carefully roll the edge in sprinkles. Press the frosting against the sugar to smooth out an imperfections.

Chocolate Lettering
from Hello, Cupcake!

Create your own letter, make multiple templates (you do not need a template and can free hand your letters, this is what I did), and place on a cookie sheet. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the template. Place any color candy melting wafers in a ziplock bag. Do not seal the bag. Microwave in 30 second intervals, massaging the bag between each interval, until the candy is smooth. Press out the excess air and seal the bag, Snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag. Pipe out an outline of the letter on the wax paper and fill in. Tap the pan lightly after each letter to flatten. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle the top with the desired nonpareils or colored sugar. Refrigerate until set, about five minutes. When set, place on edged cupcakes.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge Krispies Treats

Back and better than ever.

















I am back in town from a busy week and beginning to feel refreshed. The week of Christmas I was extremely busy. The Saturday before Christmas my boyfriend and I drove out to West Virginia to visit his family. I love visiting his family and this visit was no exception. We ate, we laughed, we exchanged gifts, and had a lot of fun.

We also decided to go snow boarding. For those of you who snow board, I have a new appreciation for your talent. I knew snow boarding was going to be hard, but I had no idea how hard. We paid $75 for a lift ticket and I was never skilled enough to make it all the way down the mountain to get on the lift. Even though I spent most of the say on my rear, I still managed to have a lot of fun.

Anyhow, we stayed in WV until Tuesday then we drove back to DC. It was only one day to rest before we flew to New Orleans, LA for my sisters wedding. With all the excitement of the wedding and being surrounded with family, the weekend seemed to fly by. The wedding was beautiful as was my sister (I will post a few pictures from the wedding at the end of this post for those who are interested.) We got back last Sunday and I have spent the majority of this week relaxing. Of course we had some friends over for New Years Eve, but other than that it has been a pretty calm week.

I made a cheesecake to share with my friends on NYE, but forgot to take pictures. I plan to make it again in a couple weeks so you are just going to have to check back for that recipe. In the meantime here is a recipe from Joy the Baker for Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Krispy Treats. When I saw this recipe on her blog I had to make it. In fact I made them the same night I saw them. These are really rich and delicious. If you love rice krispy treats, peanut butter, and chocolate than this is your ultimate dessert. They are super simple to make and freeze well. So if you have not overdosed with cookies and candies in the past month you should give them a try.

Rice Krispies Treats

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal (or any puffed rice cereal)

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. (You may want to line your pan with parchment paper or waxed paper large enough to have flaps hanging over the sides. This will make it easy to pull the giant block of goodness out of the pan when it’s done. If you do this, be sure to also butter the paper so the treats will not stick) Cool. Make Peanut Butter Fudge.

Peanut Butter Fudge
recipe from Alton Brown

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour over the Rice Krispy treats in the pan and spread evenly. Let cool in the fridge while you make the Chocolate Fudge.

Easy Chocolate Fudge

2 Tbsp butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, and vanilla,. Beat for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour over peanut butter fudge, spread evenly and place in the fridge to harden and cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces or smaller and serve.


















And for those interested, here are a couple photos from my sister's wedding:

Wedding Party walking from hotel to Wedding Site.

















The Wedding Cake (this is a baking blog after all)