Saturday, May 23, 2009

Brownie a trois

You'll feel naughty eating these decadent brownies.

A plain brownie is pretty scrumptious but I prefer dressing them up with toppings. I've done a coconut frosting, raspberry jam swirled with white chocolate chips and a turtle variation. For the past year I have made a lot of the rocky road brownies from a recipe I got from a former co-worker. This spring I started thinking about recreating a Hershey's Take 5 candy bar by topping the chocolate brownie base with pretzels, caramel and peanut butter. I didn't add Hershey's fifth ingredient, chopped peanuts, so my creation is more of a "Take 4." Good -- they won't get me for trademark infringement. I also had the urge to make a Fluffernutter topping for a brownie, but instead of pairing peanut butter with marshmallow fluff, I used marshmallow ice cream sundae topping. The result was yummy.

Brownies are the perfect portable thing to tote to a potluck, picnic or reunion. They hold up well for transport, they don't spoil and people love them. I recommend these three recipes for Memorial Day and all your summertime get-togethers.

Cynthia's Take 4 Brownies

You could figure this out without a recipe, really. And I didn't measure anything -- just put on what looks right to you. It's the technique you'll probably be interested in more than anything.

A boxed brownie mix -- I like Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge.
peanut butter -- creamy or chunky, your choice
mini pretzels
caramel bits
chocolate chips

Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions. Spread it in the pan. Bake at 350 for 17 minutes. Note this isn't enough time to completely cook it.

Take out the underbaked brownies. Stir the peanut butter -- maybe about 1/3 to 1/2 cup; it's up to you -- until creamy and drop gobs of it randomly on the brownie batter. As it starts to melt, gently spread it a little. It doesn't have to be a solid coating.

Drop some pretzels on top: Put them close together or space them so you can cut between them -- your choice. Or you can break them up and sprinkle the pieces.

Sprinkle some caramel bits and then some chocolate chips until it's coated as much or as little as you like.

Bake for another 13 minutes.

I partially baked it before putting on the toppings because I didn't want the heavy pieces to sink in the batter nor did I want the caramel bits to scorch. The bits don't get really melty and when the brownies cool, they are firm. My husband liked it. If I get ambitious again soon, I'm going to try melting the bits and combining with some whipping cream and drizzling it on in hope that it will stay smooth.

Cynthia's Fluffernutter Brownies

A boxed brownie mix -- I like Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge.
peanut butter
Smucker's Marshmallow Sauce ice cream sundae topping

Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions. Spread it in the pan. Bake at 350 for 17 minutes. Note this isn't enough time to completely cook it.

Remove the underbaked brownies from the oven. Stir the peanut butter until creamy. Maybe about 1/2 a cup for a 13-by-9-inch pan. Smear the pb over the top of the batter -- pushing it off the spoon with another spoon. When it gets melty, carefully spread it a little. It doesn't have to be a solid coating.

With a clean spoon, stir the marshmallow sauce in the jar. Holding it several inches above the batter, drizzle as much as you want over the top.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 13 minutes.

I put these toppings on in the middle of the baking process because I worried that the marshmallow topping might brown if it was in the oven for the whole time. Likewise the pb could scorch. I suppose you could add the topping as soon as you remove the completely baked brownies from the oven. But I did it at the midpoint of baking tonight because I did one pan of brownies with Fluffernutter on half and Take 4 toppings on the rest.

Why marshmallow sauce and not Fluff or real marshmallows? Consistency. I think Fluff might scorch or just not look appealing. And I know real marshmallows tend to "toast" in the oven and then firm up when the brownies cool. Trust me -- the sauce is what you're looking for in a topping to get Fluffernutter flavor.

Rocky Road Brownies

This has been published elsewhere on this site, but here it is again for convenience.

1 box Duncan Hines Brownie Mix
mini marshmallows
chopped walnuts
1/2 cup or so chocolate chips
a couple of tablespoons of milk

Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions for fudgy brownies. Within the last 5 minutes of bake time, scatter some mini marshmallows on top of the batter. Don't make it a solid layer, but get it even. Return the pan to the oven to finish baking the brownies and melt and toast the marshmallows. Remove from oven and sprinkle some chopped walnuts on top. In a saucepan or the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the milk and stir until smooth. Dribble on top of the brownies.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of bread and croutons

I love the independent artisan bakery in Morgantown, New Day Bakery, but sometimes I end up in town on Mondays, when it's closed. Those times, I admit, I go to Panera for the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich: Peppadew™ peppers, feta cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro hummus on tomato basil bread.

Last time, I bought a loaf of the bread, which is a hefty hunk for $3.99. I made a couple of muffulettas with it but its flavor was overpowered. I toasted and buttered it and sprinkled it with garlic powder -- not the right combo of flavors. I spread it with regular hummus ... good, but still not hitting the spot.

Tonight I realized I have to use it up or it's going to go bad. I cubed it and made croutons for a spinach salad. Voila! The flavors of egg, bacon, spinach and cheddar matched nicely with the crisp tomato basil croutons. I almost didn't need the Catalina dressing. I can't wait to have it again.

To make croutons: Toss 1 cup bread cubes with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch each of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread out on a baking sheet and toast at 350°F until crispy, turning occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.
Related Posts with Thumbnails