Super Thick Brownies, 4-Ways

Fudgy, super-thick, decadent brownies.
4 easy variations to the batter base to suit every craving + mood. 
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There are days when only baking (and more truthfully, devouring) a slab of warm, chocolatey goodness will set things right again.

Combined with a fit of mercurial indecision and a wild burst of energy, these days yield FOUR pans of brownies (and very happy neighbors).

S'mores Brownie

Brownie-Sampler_styled

Ingredients

  • 18 oz (3 cups) chocolate chunks, divided
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1-1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Melt the butter and pour over 2 cups of the chocolate chunks, the white sugar, and the brown sugar. Mix until combined.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Mix together the dry ingredients separately, then add to wet mixture. Don’t over mix!
  6. Incorporate the remaining chocolate chunks (1 cup).
  7. Spread into a buttered 9×13 pan. Top with additions if desired (see notes below).
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set. Do not use the toothpick test – it will result in overdone, dry brownies!

Brownie-Sampler_inside

Cheesecake Brownies

  • 1 (8 oz) pack cream cheese
  • 1/3  cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup flour

Mix cheesecake batter from ingredients above. Swirl into the brownie batter in the pan, dragging a knife through the mixture for a marbled design. Bake.

Salted Caramel Brownies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Heat sugar on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. Boil until a nice golden color is achieved, but be careful not to burn. Slowly add the butter, then drizzle in the heavy cream- slowly because the mixture can splatter like hot oil.  Remove the sauce from the heat and mix in the salt. Either top the raw brownie batter with the sauce then bake, or drizzle on brownies afterwards. The former will yield brownies with a baked in caramel flavor; the latter are messier but will retain the consistency of the sauce on top.

S’mores Brownies

  • 1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers
  • 2 cups marshmallows

Sprinkle marshmallows and graham cracker pieces over brownies halfway through baking time (after about 15 minutes), returning to oven for remainder of baking time.

Alternately, spread half of batter in pan, top with graham crackers and marshmallows, then remaining brownie batter. Bake as normal.

 

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Lemon Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

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This lightly citrusy cheesecake is tall and decadent, creamy without being too heavy, and absolutely sure to impress. Both people who swore they hated cheesecake and those that hated lemons (who hates lemons?!) sang this cake praises.

It’s not difficult to make, but keep in mind that it does need to be made a day ahead of serving in order to chill.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon twists (garnish) – I used this recipe by blogger HomemadeToast

Method

Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir the cookie crumbs and the butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan. Use a tall pan (at least 3 inches) because this recipe makes a very tall cheesecake. Also, I like to line the bottom of cheesecake pan with parchment. Bake the crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  2. Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.

Filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the salt. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour the filling into the pan.
  2. Place the wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake until the filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove the cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 2 hours. Then chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
  3. Run a knife around the sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on the pan bottom, unless you’ve lined the pan with parchment) on a platter. Garnish with lemon leaves or twists.

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Game Time

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A few craft store supplies can seriously elevate your entertaining ‘game’. White tape and sticker numbers transform a green tablecloth. Diamond-shapes cut from construction paper, folded in half and glued over yarn, make an impressive pennant banner. Brown felt, white paint, and hot glue are that’s necessary to create these DIY football koozies.

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I love these Super Bowl Bingo cards from Play.Party.Pin!

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Guinness Float

Beer float? Strange, yes – but interesting enough to be worth the risk. Really.

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This version uses Guinness and coffee ice cream; neither are crowd-pleasers, so experiment with flavors and brews to your heart’s content.

guinness-floatThis concoction barely calls for instruction, but here goes:

  1. Scoop some ice cream into a frosted mug.
  2. Slowly pour the beer, stout, or ale over the ice cream.
  3. Top with chocolate or caramel syrup.

guinness-float

Chag Hamantashen Same’ach – Happy Purim!

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I’ll go-ahead and admit it: before I moved to NYC, the only Jewish holiday I could name was Hanukkah.

As an attempt at some justification of this inexcusable ignorance, .03% of the population of North Carolina (where I spent a decade of my formative years) is Jewish.

Side effect: I lived a Hamantaschen-deprived life.

Hamantachen are cakey sugar dough cookies with a filling, most traditionally poppy seeds or prune butter made & eaten to celebrate Purim. Purim is a holiday similar to Mardi Gras in that it is celebrated with lots of heavy drinking and masquerading. It celebrates the story of Esther, whose bravery saved the Persian Jews 2,500 years ago.

The hamantaschen recipe below is my friend Jill’s, by way of her Jewish boyfriend’s grandmother. Those are her hands in the photos, too!

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Dough

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

Filling (see recipes below) + Finishing

  • Choice of filling: poppy seed filling (most traditional), prune butter, apricot butter, apricot jam, strawberry jam or even chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • cinnamon/sugar mix
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cover 2 baking sheets w/parchment or foil.
  3. Either by hand or with a mixer, combine the oil, eggs, vanilla, water, sugar, baking powder and flour and knead until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough out into a very thin layer. Dip the rim of a 3 or 4 inch cup or glass in flour and use like a cookie cutter to cut the circles. Re-roll the scraps of dough and reuse.
  4. In the center of each circle drop a teaspoon of your filling.  Shape into a triangle by folding 2 sides of the circle to the center, and pinch together at the corners. Make sure corners are tightly pinched so they don’t open during baking.
  5. Place hamantaschen 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.  Brush with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar.
  6. Bake 20 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen. Hamantaschen freeze well.

How to Fold Hamantaschen
How to Fold Hamantaschen

Poppy Filling

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb. poppy seeds
  1. Pour boiling water on poppy seeds and drain.
  2. After poppy seeds have settled to bottom, chop up fine.
  3. Add egg and sugar, stirring well.

Prune Filling (Lekvar)

  • 2 cups dried prunes
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash clove
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  1. Combine everything into a saucepan (except brown sugar) and cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes. Heat to boiling.
  2. Lower heat to simmer, cover pan and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Mix in the brown sugar. Cook, reducing the liquid and stirring every few minutes being careful not to scorch the mixture. Mash with a wooden spoon until the prunes are soft and broken up and mixture is about the consistency of oatmeal (about 20 more minutes). It will thicken more when cooled.

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and also freezes well.

By Request: Smutty Sweets

Boob Cupcakes: Styled A

My apologies to the easily offended. Candy solutions to off-color problems must be shared.

In my defense, lest I be judged a total lech, these cupcakes weren’t my idea. These naughty cakes were a special request from a friend, a gift to her husband at his birthday party.

If there is ever another occasion calling for such an inappropriate dessert, here is the method:

  1. Smash Orange Chews under a smooth-bottomed cup
  2. Poke the flattened chews through the center with a chopstick and stick a Hot Tamale through the hole
  3. Stick the candy combo on frosted cupcakes

I used plain vanilla frosting, but chocolate would work just as well, or vanilla with a little food coloring to achieve a more realistic flesh-tone.

Boob Cupcakes: Candy

Boob Cupcakes: Styled B

Zigzag Brownies

cheesecake brownie

To get that perfect surface zigzag:

Pour your favorite brownie batter into a greased pan. Fill a piping bag with cream cheese mix (for a 9″ square pan: 8oz box of cream cheese, an egg, sugar and perhaps a flavoring or extract). Pipe thick lines of cream cheese filling across the length of the pan. Drag a knife through each line of cream cheese, alternating direction with each stroke. Voila!

White Chocolate Brownies 2

white chocolate brownies

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Flourless Chocolate

I prefer my brownies baked just enough to remove the fear of eating raw eggs from the experience, gooey enough to require a spoon. Rumor has it that Suri Cruise sides with me in the fudgy vs. cakey debate

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 300°.  Melt chocolate (carefully!- do not overheat) and put into mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment. Add softened butter in small chunks to melted chocolate on low-speed. Mix and heat water, sugar and salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add warm (again, not hot!) water mixture to chocolate mixture once butter is incorporated. Add eggs and egg whites slowly on slow speed.  Mix, scrape down sides of bowl, then mix again to make sure batter is combined. Fill cups a 1/4 inch from the top and bake mini size for 30 minutes, standard size for 60 minutes.