Peppermint Brownie Rounds

I made this other cookie to add to my cookie swap and its so festive & easy to do! Granted, this isn’t a ‘from scratch’ recipe and it has a touch of Sandra Lee, but these are great when you don’t have much time. I frosted these with a peppermint buttercream frosting. To add a bit of festive flair, I topped the cookies with some crushed peppermint candy…

Peppermint Brownie Rounds
original Joelen recipe

1 box devils food cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat over to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir dry cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla, using spoon, until dough forms.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. On an ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutues.

While cookies are baking make some buttercream frosting. The buttercream frosting recipe I made doesn’t really have exact measurements… I just go by the texture or stiffness to determine if its done.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon peppermint extract
half & half
powdered sugar
crushed candy canes

In a stand mixer, cream butter; Add peppermint extract.
Alternate adding a splash of half & half and a cup of powdered sugar.
The consistency to achieve for decorating cakes is a “stiff” frosting.
If you can invert your batter bowl with a spatula or spoon suspended in the frosting without it falling out, you’ve hit the stiff consistency.

Assembling Peppermint Brownie Rounds

Frost the cooled cookies with the peppermint buttercream frosting and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.

Palmer House Brownies

Palmer House Brownies
recipe can be found HERE
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate
1 pound butter
1 pound granulated sugar (3 1/2 cups)
8 oz. cake flour (2 cups)
1 tablespoons baking powder
4 whole eggs
1 pound crushed walnuts

Glaze: (Optional)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt chocolate with the butter in a double
boiler or in a bowl set over barely simmering water. Mix dry ingredients
except the walnuts-- in a large mixer bowl on low speed for 4-5 minutes.

Add the eggs and mix until blended. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking
sheet and sprinkle with the walnuts, pressing nuts down lightly into
the mixture with the palm of your hand. Bake in the preheated 300 degree
oven for 40 minutes. You will know when it is done because the edges
start to become a little crispy and the brownie has raised about ¼ inch.
Note that even when the brownie is properly baked, it will test "gooey"
with a toothpick in the middle due to the richness of the mixture.

After removing from the oven, allow to cool at least 30 minutes.

To make glaze: Mix together water, preserves and gelatin in a saucepan,
mix thoroughly and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Use while hot. Spread
the glaze in a thin layer over the brownies using a pastry brush.

The brownies are easiest to cut if you can place the whole pan into the
freezer for 3 - 4 hours after glazing, then remove and cut with a serrated

Coffee Toffee Brownies

The following recipe was made for my Picnic Wine event. You can read more about it and get additional recipes HERE.

Coffee Toffee Brownies
shared at the event by Susan
recipe HERE

Cooking spray
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup toffee chips

Preheat oven to 350º.

Coat bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine coffee and hot water, stirring until coffee dissolves.

Combine butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 1 minute or until butter melts; stir until chocolate is smooth.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine coffee mixture, butter mixture, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add coffee mixture to flour mixture; stir just until combined. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with toffee chips. Bake at 350º for 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Best Brownies

I prepared the following recipe for my Book/Movie club. You can read about my event and view other links to recipes I made for it HERE.

I found this recipe in a thrift store, believe it or not. I was shopping around for a nice glass pitcher for cheap and there lost with the piles of books was a copy of a Cook’s Illustrated. Inside this whopping $.40 gem was Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for Best Brownies. I made their recipe verbatim, but to put a twist on it, I topped the brownie with pecan halves… and drizzled the top with buttery caramel. Here is Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Best Brownies to which I added some caramel over the top for a little more indulgence:

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped medium
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 baking powder
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 6-1 inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
caramel sauce (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; jeat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-ince length foil and foild lengthwise to 8 inch width. Fit foil into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width, fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil lined pan with nonstick cookin spray. (Basically, line your baking pan well with foil, allowing some excess foil to hang off the edges for esay removal once its baked.)

2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. (I didn’t bother toasting the nuts because I knew it would bake up in the oven.)

3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

4. Melt chocolate and butter in a large heatprood bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occassionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 second, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatual until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2 inch squares and drizzle caramel generously over the top before serving. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

In the Dumps, Sweet Dumps!

One of my husband’s favorite desserts is black forest cake. I stumbled across this easy, no brainer recipe for a black forest dump cake and thought I’d give it a try. The result? It was chocolatey, sweet and the hubby approved! Here’s my recipe for Black Forest Dump Cake that was adapted from this one:
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 (16.5 ounce) jar sweet cherries, drained (Morello cherries from Trader Joes)
1 (18.25 ounce) package fudge brownie mix, batter prepared as directed
1 cup chopped Oreo cookies
3/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Dump cherry pie filling into dish and spread evenly. Repeat with jarred cherries, not including juice.

Prepare brownie mix as directed and spread over the top – DO NOT STIR. Sprinkle with chopped Oreo cookied. Distribute butter pieces evenly over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Fudgy Brownies

The following recipe was shared at my Chicago Chefs Dinner event. You can read more about it and get additional recipes featured at the event HERE.

Fudgy Brownies
Shared at the event by Joelen
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
Show: Sweet Dreams Episode: Sweets By Mail

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium pan over very low heat. Stir together and remove from the heat. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the flour and salt. Add nuts. Spread the mixture into a buttered 8-inch square pan. Bake until set, about 40 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Blondies Have So Much Fun!

Its afternoon and the sweet tooth is acting up. My husband has it too. So how do we satisfy the cravings? Blondies, of course!

I’m going to throw out yet another recipe from the 2005 America’s Test Kitchen Live! cookbook because as you may have guessed, this is where I got the blondie recipe from. What we wanted: Bakers like blondies because they are so simple to prepare, but many recipes are pretty flavorless. Is there a way to make a great blondie that’s still quick and easy?

What we learned: Use melted butter than creamed butter to create dense, chewy blondies. Light brown sugar (rather than dark brown sugar) and vanilla are the keys to creating a rich butterscotch flavor.

The verdict? Heaven. I used the cookbook’s Blondie recipe (pages 297-288) as the base for my Milk Chocolate Caramel Blondies and you can use pretty much any type of chocolate chip, flavored morsels and/or chopped nuts. Here’s my adapted recipe for Milk Chocolate Caramel Blondies:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate caramel morsels (Nestle brand)
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Adjust an oveen rach to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with two pieces of foil. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Whist the melted butter and brown sugar together in a medium bowl until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber sptula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the morsels and the nuts and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing thetop with a rubber spatula.

4. Bake until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch., 22 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and cool completely. Cut into bars.