I went a bit brownie crazy early in the week and baked five 9x13-sized pans of three different kinds of them. I mailed two pans to a friend serving in Iraq (this required some mad packing skills & ingenuity on my part) for his birthday and the rest were frozen* until ready to use for two potlucks we were attending this weekend.
Here are the brownies I made (I dare you not to get a toothache after reading them): Mocha-Frosted Kahlua Brownies, Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies and Chocolate Caramel Walnut Brownies.
Although I'm partial to the Kahlua Brownies b/c they are my own recipe, I have to say that the Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies are my new favorite (yes, of all time!). The Chocolate Caramel Walnut Brownies are very decadent, but somehow not as refined (if a brownie can be called refined) as the former two--they remind me more of a juvenile treat but this doesn't keep them from being outstanding. Brownies with thick, gooey caramel and dripping with chocolate chips and walnuts? What could be wrong with that?
I have to apologize to all the people who are going to be aghast that I dared to use brownie mix instead of measuring out flour & sugar, but I just prefer the mix, people! I've made scratch brownies and I just don't like them as much. I guess I should try some more recipes before I set my mind against from-scratch brownies but why mess with perfection when it's this easy? If you're passionate about this subject and have a great recipe that you think would change my mind, please share!
These brownies are best-sellers at the Flying Pig Gift Boutique. It doesn't matter what kind of outlandish treats I bring in to sell, if the brownies are sitting there alongside them, the other stuff only goes after the brownies are sold out. Which never takes very long.
1 box fudge brownie mix (I like Pillsbury)
2 eggs1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 Tbsp. Kahlua
3 tsp. powdered insant coffee crystals**
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
Make the brownies: mix up everything, spread in a 9x13 pan (grease the bottom only) and bake at 350 for however long the box says. Don't overbake unless you like dry brownies. Cool COMPLETELY before frosting.
Make the frosting: Microwave the Kahlua for 30 seconds or until boiling (I use a glass 1-cup measuring cup and fill it 1/2 way to the 1/4 cup line). Stir in the instant coffee and place in the freezer to cool. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and then give it another 30 seconds, stirring again. It should be melted but if not, cotinue this cycle in 30 second intervals. Once smooth, set aside to cool. Cream the butter then beat in the cooled chocolate. Last, add the coffee mixture and beat it until everything is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Spread over the cooled brownies.
Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies
Recipe from Betty Crocker with instructions modifed by me.
1 9x13 pan of brownies, cooled (if using a mix, be sure to substitute melted butter for the oil)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
Directions:Beat filling ingredients until smooth and spread evenly over the cooled brownies. An offset spatula is almost required for this task as the filling is thick and hard to spread. Microwave the topping ingredients in 30-second intervals, stirring between, until smooth (should only take a couple times). Cool 10 minutes, then spread over the filling layer. Again, I would never try this without an offset spatula. The layer has to be spread very, very thin and I can't imagine doing it without one. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before cutting--you want the chocolate on top to be hardened so that the brownies cut easily. I cut mine frozen and that worked fine.
Chocolate Caramel Walnut Brownies
Recipe from the back of a generic sweetened condensed milk label
2 boxes of fudge brownie mix
1/2 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
dash of salt
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups walnuts
2 cups chocolate chips
Prepare the brownies according to package directions (except substituting melted butter for the oil) and stick them in the oven to bake according to the package directions. As soon as they're in, start the caramel topping.
Melt the butter in a heavy 3 quart saucepan. Stir in sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Blend in sweetened condensed milk, continue stirring, and heat to 245 degrees (approximately 10 minutes). I heated mine to 250 degrees to no ill result. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let caramel cool while brownies finish baking.
Pour the caramel over the brownies when they come out of the oven. Scatter the walnuts & chocolate chips over the top and let cool completely before attempting to cut into bars.
*I don't know if naked brownies freeze well, but I've never had a problem with frosted brownies. They retain their moisture and texture perfectly and are never any worse for wear after defrosting. They are a perfect make-ahead treat in any instance when you need to make-ahead or just want to make something to keep on hand in case of emergency.
**If you are measuring the crystals before turning them to powder (with a coffee grinder, morter & pestle or just crushing them with a rolling pin), measure a tablespoon.