S’mores Brownie Bars

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You know how some people can’t live without food and water? Or say… air? Me, I can’t live without brownies and s’mores in my life. Seriously. I have a problem.

I have tried a bagillion different brownie recipes. Not to find the perfect one, but to enjoy all the tiny differences each recipe has to offer. As for s’mores, I think I have tried s’mores anything: cereal, granola bars, brownies, cookies, plain old campfire s’mores and even microwave s’mores. S’mores are love. Try not to smile when sitting in front of a roaring fire, wrapped in blankets, with your sister sticking skewered marshmallows into the fire then squashing the gooey, half burnt marshmallow between some chocolate and graham crackers. It really is the epitome of happiness.

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But when it’s 9 million degrees here in Houston (for the umpteenth day straight) it’s just not reasonable to get a roaring fire going to enjoy some yummy s’mores.

Enter these bars. You get the crunch of the graham cracker in the form of a buttery graham cracker crust (which is great because it won’t get soggy while baking), your dose of chocolate comes in the form of a fudgy brownie and topped off with fluffy, melty marshmallows.

S’mores heaven in a bar.

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S’mores Brownie Bars
Adapted from Alice Medrich, as seen here

Yields 16 servings (depending how large you cut the bars)

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
2 tablespoons sugar

For the brownie layer:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the topping:
20 large marshmallows; cut in half

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar and mix until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Allow crust to cool on wire rack.

3. Turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees F.

4. In a large microwave safe bowl on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together in 30 second intervals, stirring every 15-30 seconds until chocolate is almost completely melted, then stir until smooth.

5. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in eggs one at a time until well combined. Then add flour. Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 18 minutes.

6. Let cool completely, then lift out using the foil and place brownies onto a broiler safe pan (I used the same brownie pan once everything was cooled). Move your oven rack about 6 inches from your broiler and preheat your broiler to low.

7. Layer marshmallows (sticky side down) across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (watch this like you have never watched anything before…it can burn QUICK), about 2 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Happy National S’mores Day!! Enjoy!!

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Simple Homemade Fudgy Brownies

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There are days were I just can’t be bothered with things like chopping chocolate, tempering eggs, making ganache or measuring Nutella without making a mess of my kitchen.

Some days I just need a simple way to get simple brownies fast. Something to hit the spot of that nasty chocolate monster that yells at me at 9pm.

Do you have an inconsiderate chocolate monster inside you too? Perhaps inside your kids? Husband? Best friend? Then make these. You’ll all thank me once that monster is fed. He’s quite a nuisance. :)

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Simplest Homemade Fudgy Brownies
Adapted from Good Life Eats

Ingredients:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup flour
A heaping 1/2 cup chocolate chunks, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Set aside.

Set a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Next, add the granulated sugar and extract. Stir well. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl and whisk in with the eggs until well combined. Gently stir in the flour and chocolate chunks, and STOP mixing once flour disappears.

Pour batter into the previously prepared baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Cool completely to be able to cut neatly. Cool 15 minutes if you want to dig in much sooner.

Remove parchment paper (with brownies) from the pan. Peel away the parchment paper and cut the brownies into serving size pieces and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

It really is as simple as that!!

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Honey Brownies – TWD

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Oh honey honey.

It’s Wednesday, it’s gloomy but nice outside, and I am stuck inside watching soap operas.

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If I had it my way, I’d be sitting in the big squishy couch at Starbucks sipping a grande upside-down skinny caramel macchiato surfing the web or typing up posts or at the river baking away with friends.

But things don’t always work out the way you’d want them to.

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Kind of like these brownies. They have potential, they have the right idea, but they just can’t seal the deal. A honey brownie sounded SOOO good in theory. I love honey and I LOVE brownies but it just didn’t work out. The honey completely takes over and overshadows the chocolate completely (not surprising when there’s an entire cup in this recipe). I’m thinking of tweaking this recipe to lessen the blow of the honey and up the power of the chocolate because I refuse to believe that honey and chocolate don’t work.

I’m stubborn that way.

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I want to take a moment to say that these brownies aren’t horrible, Dorie rarely drops the ball with my taste buds. With that in mind, I hardly consider them a flop as they disappeared at my mother-in-law’s office and were a hit with all her co-workers. These just weren’t a 100% hit with me. But if you LOVE honey, I suggest that you make these and have them with a cup of tea!!

Thank you to Suzy of Suzy Homemaker for choosing these. Head over to her blog for the recipe (or simply click here!)

Whole Wheat Brownies

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My pants are too tight. Are yours?

You’ll excuse me while I go slip into my comfy pants, won’t you? You’re so kind.

Ahhh, much better.

Now that I have a little breathing room, back to business.

There’s nothing special about these brownies. Butter, sugar, cocoa powder, whole wheat flour…

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR?! Why yes, I guess there is something special about these after all. You can delude yourself into thinking that eating the entire pan of brownies won’t wreak havoc on your waistline by repeating whole wheat like a mantra.

I know what you’re thinking: with the substitution of whole wheat flour, these brownies are probably hard or not as tasty as the bad-for-you brownies. Poppy cock!! These brownies are are rich and chocolatey, fudgy and delicious!! Nothing but a pure delight. And you get some extra whole grain goodness in there too.

Whole wheat, whole wheat, whole wheat… oh dear, excuse me….

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Whole Wheat Brownies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but recommended
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour (I used 100% whole wheat flour)
2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13 x 9-inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil leaving an overhang on opposing sides for easy removal after baking. Spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Add the butter to a saucepan set over low heat and melt it. Remove the pan from the heat, add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Return the pan to the heat (still on low) until the butter/sugar mixture is hot (about 110 F to 120 F) but not bubbling. If the mixture separates, stir briefly to recombine.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl then add the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Finally, add the flour and chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center reveals wet crumbs, but not raw batter, and the edges are set. Move the pan to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cool, cover and let sit overnight before cutting. This rest allows the bran to absorb moisture and soften, leading to both better flavor and texture.

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Deep Dark Brownies

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Do you need an excuse to make brownies?

No, of course not. What kind of person needs an excuse to make delicious, deep, dark fudgy brownies?

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The best brownies are the ones that are made for no absolute reason.

For the record, brownies made to cure a killer chocolate craving are also the best.

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But, I think the brownies that your sweetheart makes you to show some tender love and affection are quite possibly unmatchable. Unless of course you’re my hubby in which case you won’t eat my brownies. Or cakes. Or pies… but I digress. ;)

Make these for someone you love: your honey, your sister, your mom, your next door neighbor, your best friend. It’s never a bad idea to spread a little love. You won’t be sorry.

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Deep Dark Brownies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yields 16 brownies (depending on how large you cut them)

2/3 cup (3 ounces) Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 cup (4 ounces) toasted pecans or walnuts, diced (optional)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips (optional)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) water or brewed coffee

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Lightly grease an 8 x 8″ or 9 x 9″ square pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars, salt, flour, espresso powder, nuts, and chips. Add the eggs, oil, and water or coffee, mixing just until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake the brownies in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 minutes (for the 9″ pan), or 45 minutes (for the 8″ pan). To see if the brownies are done, remove the pan from the oven, and stick the tip of a sharp knife into the center of the brownies. Wriggle it around just enough to see what’s going on. Is the batter under the crust still shiny, wet, and smooth? Continue to bake the brownies, checking frequently. Is it ultra-moist, but not shiny, and “crumby” looking? Take them out, they’re done.

Place the pan of brownies on a cooling rack, and allow them to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

To fancy it up: melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and spread over brownies, allow to set. Drizzle a plate with caramel sauce or a bit of warm raspberry jam.

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Day 19: Chocolate Mint Brownies + 3 Extra Variations

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Christmas is almost here.

There are Christmas songs playing non-stop wherever you go. Seriously, it follows you!

There are stockings hung by the chimney with care and I’m pretty sure visions of sugar plums are dancing in your head.

Oh, not to mention there is toxic sludge colored mint on top of brownies.

Whaa?

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Day 19 of my extravaganza and I am sharing brownies. Yummy, fudgy brownies. Yummy, fudgy brownies with a layer of toxic sludge colored mint on top of them. Yum.

But seriously, these are great!! The brownies themselves are a great plain canvas for any number of mix ins and toppings. Just be sure not to have such a heavy hand with the gel food coloring… that stuff is POTENT! Easy does it. Unless toxic sludge green is your favorite color. In which case, color away!!

Chocolate Mint Brownies
adapted from The Joy of Baking via My Baking Addiction

Brownie Layer:
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (114 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (70 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mint Layer:
2 tablespoons(28 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or 1-2 tablespoons crème de menthe
green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Glaze:
3 ounces (90 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan. Set aside.

Brownies: In a stainless steel (heatproof) bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and beat, with a wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about one minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out almost clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to completely cool.

Mint Layer: In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until firm.

Chocolate Glaze: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the mint filling and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull.

To Serve: Remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into 30 squares. It is a good idea to wipe your knife between cuts with a damp cloth to get clean cuts. These brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for several days or else frozen.

Makes about 30 1-inch (2.5 cm) squares.

Optional Garnishes:
chopped peppermint bark (sprinkle over warm brownies and let come to room temp)

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chopped candy cane oreos (sprinkle over warm brownies)

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a few dollops of caramel sauce (lightly swirl into batter before baking)

Shipping Safe: YES. Brownies can ship great if packed snugly so they do not move around in whatever tin/box you place them in.
Make Ahead and Freeze: YES. Bake the brownies, cool to room temp, wrap tightly and freeze. Take them out one day before they are needed and let them thaw in the fridge and continue with the mint filling and topping.

Day 12: Ginger Chocolate Brownies

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It’s no new-found discovery that ginger and chocolate go well together. I mean with all the chocolate gingerbreads and chocolate ginger cookies out there… there’s no way that it could be wrong.

But something about these brownies had me a bit irked. I can’t describe it but a brownie… flavored with ginger? I just wasn’t sure. But I wanted to take a chance, take that culinary leap. Mostly, I just wanted to be able to tell myself ‘pssssh, and you were worried?’

Sometimes I worry too much. There’s nothing to worry about with these. They are delish! Pinky promise.

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It’s day 12 of my baking extravaganza, and I’m still going strong. About halfway through, but not to worry… I have plenty left to share!!

These fall into the ‘fudgy’ end of the brownie spectrum, but not overly so. I’d say it’s pretty close to perfect. I was expecting the signature paper-thin crackly crust but I think I underbaked just a bit, so that error lies with me. Otherwise, the flavor really is phenom. But when dealing with Martha, you tend to already expect that.

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Chocolate-Ginger Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies via Delicious Delicious Delicious

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
3 oz (75g) dark chocolate, broken into squares
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
2/3 cup (95 g) plain flour
1/4 cup (30g) cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp fresh root ginger, grated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Instructions:
Pre-heat the oven to 350°C and grease and line a 8×8 square baking tin.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat (you can also do this in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 15-30 second bursts). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add all the other ingredients and stir until smooth. (I put the flour, cocoa powder and spices in a separate bowl and whisked until thoroughly combined. I added the sugar and whisked together. Then the eggs, one at a time, and whisked until blended. Then the ginger and vanilla. Last, I added the flour mixture and stirred until just combined.)

Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake until set. Mine were done at 25 mins so start checking around then.

Cool in the pan, and then cut into 16 squares. Or however many you like.

Top with a divine caramel sauce to really take them over the top!!

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Shipping Safe: YES. Wrap tightly and place in a tin or a small box.
Make Ahead and Freeze: YES. Brownies are a great bake and freeze treat.