Peppermint Patty Brownies

Sometimes I use my friends as guinea pigs. Don’t tell them that, OK? I was having a holiday lunch with my friends Anne and Sandy, and I wanted to make them something I hadn’t made before. I saw this recipe for Peppermint Patty Brownies and thought they sounded just perfect. But, I had never made them before. Should I experiment on my friends? (It’s a rhetorical question, faithful food readers. 🙂 )

I made them, and they looked really awesome. But, did my friends like them? You betcha. Just ask them.

Ingredients:

For the brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup chocolate chips

For the peppermint layer

2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
peppermint sugar sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter with sugar and vanilla extract, whisking until combined and almost smooth. Whisk in each egg one at a time, stirring until a smooth batter forms. (C’mon, work those biceps.) Add in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, stirring until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter in the 8×8 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Remove and let cool.

While brownies are cooling, add powdered sugar, butter, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and peppermint extracts to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour over brownies and spread in an even layer with a spoon or spatula. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes.

This recipe called for ganache to drizzle over top. However, I realized I didn’t buy any heavy cream at the store the week before because it was $4.38 a pint. I could have bought a gallon of milk for that price. (I know, it was probably mismarked, but I was in too much of a hurry to ask someone.) So, I had to think of something else to do.

Ever the food fixer, I melted a half cup of chocolate chips and drizzled that over the top then added  some peppermint sugar sprinkles to make them look pretty and super-festive.

PeppermintPattieBrownies

 

Chocolate peppermint fudge

I haven’t had great success with fudge in the past. As a kid, I watched my Aunt Edie make it with ease, but for some reason, I could never get into her fudge groove. (I bet she never even knew she had a fudge groove.)

But, now I’m fudge grooving, too, because I found some super-easy fudge recipes, like the one I shared earlier this week for cookies and cream fudge. Here’s another one: chocolate peppermint fudge from Ree Drummond of the Food Network.

It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s festive looking. What more could you want?

Ingredients:  

  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Peppermint candy, crushed

Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

CrushingCandyCanesIn a plastic bag, add your peppermint (I used candy canes) and crush using a rolling pin or another heavy tool. A meat tenderizer will work as well. Be sure to seal the bag first. 🙂

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.ChocolateMelting

Pour into your pan. Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint. Refrigerate for two hours.

Lift the foil out and peel it off the fudge. Cut into small (or big) squares.

Enjoy it along with your new fudge groove.

ChocolatePepperminFudgeDone

Cookies and Cream Fudge

As you can probably guess, I love holiday time. For me, it’s like the Food Olympics. I spend most of my free time in the kitchen, lifting heavy pots and pans (weight-lifting competition), wielding a chopping knife (fencing competition), racing to get everything made in time (marathon competition).

My goal is to make something delicious – at least I hope it’s delicious — for someone I care about.  I’m willing to put in the work, but it is awesome when I find a super-easy and super-yummy recipe.

A perfect example is this cookies and cream fudge recipe.

It’s so easy I’m almost embarrassed to share it with you. But, it’s so unbelievably good that I would be remiss in not sharing it with you.

Ingredients:

  • 18 oz. white chocolate chips. (I recommend Hershey’s brand because they melt very well.)
  • 2½ cups Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Line an 8×8 pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

CrushingOreosPlace 2 ½ cups of Oreos into a plastic bag and seal it. Use a rolling pin, meat tenderizer or other heavy object to coarsely crush the cookies. Set aside.

Combine the white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until the chips are all melted. Your time will vary depending on the power of your microwave. Stir until the mixture is smooth. VanillaChipsMelting

Add the cookies to the melted chocolate and pour into the pan. Let cool at room temperature for at least two hours. Or, you can pop them in the refrigerator where they will cool faster. When cooled, cut into bit-sized pieces. (Or bigger pieces if that’s what your loved ones like.)

Scary good. That’s what these are. And they were so easy that you now have time to make something else. I made chocolate peppermint fudge. That recipe is coming next.

CookiesAndCreamFudgeDone

 

Pumpkin Scones

I love scones. I’m not sure why. There are certainly richer, more savagely delicious treats than scones. Perhaps, I just love the idea of scones, nibbling on one while sipping hot tea and perhaps reading a book or solving a mystery. (Can anyone say Miss Jane Marple?)

Regardless of the reason, they are tasty. And, unless you’re a food masochist, they’re easy to make. I made pumpkins scones after I saw this recipe from the Food Network little booklet of 50 canned pumpkin recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 stick of cold butter, cubed
  • 2/3 cup solid pack pumpkin
  • ¾ cup cream

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Work in the cold butter with a pastry blender. In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin and cream then stir into the flour mixture.SconeSquare

Pat into an 8-inch square on a floured surface, then cut into 16 triangles. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F, 20 minutes.

Full-recipe disclosure: I drizzled glaze and sprinkled cinnamon on mine to make them extra tasty and pretty.FinishedScone

Apple Slab Pie

Happy Black Friday. If you’re reading this, then you’re not battling the frenzied, bargain-seeking-consumed crowds who are weighted down with an assortment of packages and bags that can cause serious injury if wielded in just the right way.

Since I presume you’re in a much better place and you survived Thanksgiving, this is the perfect time to talk food, my friend.

Before T-giving Day, I experimented with apple pie. Now, I realize that apple pie is already great, but in my lifelong quest to find the tastiest of the tasty, I tried this apple slab pie recipe from King Arthur Flour. I was intrigued because making it in this form yields more pieces, which in my house is always a plus.

I loved this recipe because:

  • It was delicious.
  • I’m not adept at making pie crusts. (Yes, that’s my food confession.) So, if you have trouble rolling this out, which I did, you can cobble it together and it’ll still be OK. You can’t do that with a round pie.
  • The crust, while a bit troublesome for me, was de-licious.
  • It made so much I was able to share with my friends James and Cathy and their girls, so there was much apple pie happiness in our neighborhood.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder CulturedButtermilk
  • (I didn’t know what this was, but I found it in the grocery store in the bakery aisle. It’s kind of like powdered milk.)
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons ice water

 For the filling:

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or other coarse dry bread crumbs; or 1 cup coarsely crushed cornflakes
  • Apples8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Cortland apples, about 3 1/4 pounds (8 to 10 medium) whole apples
  • 2/3 cup cinnamon sugar

For the optional glaze:

I did not make the glaze. After all, it’s optional. But I did brush some milk on the crust and sprinkled sparking sugar on it. Yum.

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cupboiled cider*
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon groundcinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon milk or cream, optional, if necessary to thin the glaze
  • *Substitute 1/3 cup honey, if desired; or 1/4 cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate, or maple syrup.

Directions:

If you make this let me know how it turned out. Better yet, just bring me a piece. After all, you’ll have lots left over.

SlabPieslice

 

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats

Is there anyone who doesn’t love Rice Krispie treats? Seriously, anyone?

I’ve always found them addicting, perhaps because they’re not too sweet and are lighter than most treats. I haven’t made them in years, but was intrigued when I saw this recipe for cinnamon roll Rice Krispie treats, which I think I found on BuzzFeed. 

While I expected them to be delicious I thought I’d use the students in my class as guinea pigs. At the end of class, there was only one left — treats, not students — so I took it home to a grateful He Who Must Be Fed. Again, treats, not students.

ClassPhotoForRiceKrispieTreats

 

They’re quick and easy to make. And, they’re delicious.

Ingredients:

RiceKrisipeIngredientsFor the treats:

  • 1 10 oz. bag marshmallows,
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 1/2 cups Rice Krispies

 

For the cream cheese glaze:

  • 2 oz. softened cream cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

MeltingMarshmallowsIn a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt marshmallows, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together over medium-low heat and stir continuously. Once everything is completely melted, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Gently fold in Rice Krispies.RiceKrispies

Press into a lightly greased 9 X13 inch pan. To make the pressing easier, rub your hands with softened butter. That way, the treats won’t stick to your hands as you’re pressing them into the pan.

To make the glaze, whisk the cream cheese until creamy. Gently whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Then whisk in milk. Add more or less milk to get a glaze consistency that you can drizzle. If glaze seems too thick, heat in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.

I sprinkled about a teaspoon of cinnamon on top to add a bit more flavor and make them look pretty.

Drizzle with cream cheese and serve.

RiceKrispiesFrosted

Molasses Cookies

Sometimes simple is just better, right? Sure, it’s fun to create a multi-ingredients recipe, filled with all kinds of fun, funky flavors that perform a culinary choreography on your taste buds.

But sometimes, you just get a-hankerin’ for something simpler. No funk.  Just plain good.

Case in point: these delicious molasses cookies. I got the recipe from All Recipes. They’re simple and delicious. They’re also easy to mail in case you have a loved one far away who happens to have a gigantic sweet tooth, is working hard on his master’s degree, and really misses his mother … Oh, sorry. I digress.

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoon sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.CreamingSugarButter

Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.

Sifting

Shape dough into walnut sized balls and roll them in the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

CookiesPreOven

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.CookiesPostOven

I hope you enjoy these as much as someone else I know. If you try them, drop me a line and let me know how they turned out.

 

 

Double Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownies

Happy Halloween, friends.

Halloween is one of my favorite times to make treats. Unfortunately, my favorite Halloweenie no longer lives at home. 😦 He’s almost 24 (what, you say?!?!) and is now living in the big city while he works on his master’s degree. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t send him some Halloween treats. After all, I do miss seeing his freakishly handsome face around the house.

So, to celebrate his (and my) favorite holiday, I made him these double peanut butter paisley brownies from Hershey’s Kitchens.

They’re scary good.

I hope your goblins like them, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 10 oz. package of peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup

Heat your oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 pan. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.ButterAndPeanutButter

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then mix that into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips.

PeanutbutterChips

Spread half of batter in prepared pan. Spoon the chocolate syrup over the top. Carefully top with remaining batter; swirl with a metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

BeforeTheOven

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

PaisleyBrowniesDone

Cut into squares. Makes about 24 brownies.

In honor of Halloween, let me leave you with this:

Sweet Potato Pecan Bread

It’s fall. The perfect time to make something awesome, particularly if that awesome thing is made with cinnamon, pumpkin or sweet potato, and pecans.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I discovered a culinary gem recently. This month’s Food Network Magazines features a little booklet with 50 quick bread recipes.

I vowed last week to try them all and started with the Carrot Coconut Bread. Today, it’s Sweet Potato Pecan Bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pureed sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the sweet potato puree, vegetable oil, brown sugar, water, eggs and vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, orange zest and pecans.CuttingPecans

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Bake 60 to 70 minutes.

SweetPotatoBreadDone

It’s delicious and tastes just like fall.

SweetPotatoBreadSlice

 

Carrot Coconut Bread

Is there anything better on a cool autumn day than baking something delicious that will make the house smell awesome? OK. There may be some things– jumping in a pile of leaves, taking a nice drive along a country road to see the colored leaves, picking out the perfect pumpkin – but they’re really only equally as good.

This month’s Food Network Magazine came with a little gem: a little booklet with 50 quick bread recipes.

I’ve decided to work my way through the entire thing, making each one.

This Carrot Coconut Bread was the first one, and what a way to start. It reminded me of carrot cake, and it was delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the carrots, vegetable oil, yogurt, eggs and vanilla.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, coconut, pineapple, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.BatterforCarrotCoconut

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes.

CarrotBreadDone

Optional glaze:

If you’re looking for more of a sugar high, you can make this glaze to drizzle on the bread while it’s warm.  Just whisk the ingredients together.

  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt

We did not feel the need for the glaze. The bread was super-duper without it. Doesn’t that look pretty?

CarrotBreadslice