Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dessert: Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I made these for a friend who's favorite cake is a red velvet cake. I didn't have time to make the red velvet cake I've previously posted when she came to visit, so I tried these. They were a hit with her and every one else.


1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz red food coloring or 2 teaspoons if you are using the gel kind
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

For the white chocolate buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 oz good-quality white chocolate (not chips), melted
1 – 2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup cream cheese

To make the brownies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8″x8″ baking pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes (mine looked like puffy snow). Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. With the mixer off, add in the sifted cocoa (to avoid any lumps that sometimes happens with cocoa) and food coloring, then turn the mixer to medium and beat the two mixtures together until they are one uniform color. Slowly add in the flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed, just until combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir up the batter with a rubber spatula once or twice just to ensure all of the flour has incorporated from the sides of the bowl and there isn’t anything stuck on the bottom of the bowl.
  4. You’ll want one uniformly colored (red) batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the brownies. Allow brownies to completely cool in the pan on a baking rack, about 45-60 minutes. For prettier brownies, remove the entire batch from the pan to a cutting board, cut into 12 bars, THEN frost, and serve.

To make the frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until soft and fluffy then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time; allow the sugar to mix in before adding the next 1/2 cup. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat on medium speed for 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the melted white chocolate and cream cheese and beat on medium speed until incorporated. (The original recipe did not include cream cheese, but it just wasn’t red velvet to me without the cream cheese frosting). With the mixer on low, add in heavy cream 1 tbsp at a time and beat at medium speed until the frosting has reached your desired consistency.

Other Details:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dessert: Bad Astronomer Double Chocolate Fudge Cookies

When Phil Plait started his Science Getaways site, he launched with some cookies. Which looked fabulous! So I made them the next weekend, but I'm only getting around to blogging about them now. They were really good, although I found the tone at the blog on how to make the cookies a little condescending. 

4 cups (24 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. Combine 2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips and butter in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds; stir and repeat until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly.
  3. Beat eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until it’s well blended and a little foamy. Add sugar and beat until thick and lighter in color. Add melted chocolate and butter and beat until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. (Do not overbeat.) Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and slowly add to the butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips by hand (the dough will be very soft.)
  4. Drop dough by rounded, heaping tablespoonsful 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until cookies are just cooked enough to hold together. They should still be slightly shiny on top. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes and then move to wire racks to finish cooling completely.

Other Details:

  • Original Recipe
  • Makes about 3 dozen (depending on the size of your cookies – I got about 39, but Bad Astronomer got about 30

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dessert: Ultimate Peanut Butter Bars

I made these last summer when going through recipes I'd been holding onto waiting to make. They were a predictable hit at our house. The original recipe came from the side of a cereal box. 

1/3 cup margarine or butter
¾ cup milk chocolate baking chips
2 ½ cups crushed Cocoa & Peanut Butter Fusion cereal (or Reese's) (approx 6 cups)

½ cup creamy peanut butter
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoon sugar
12 oz frozen whipped topping, divided


1 jar hot fudge flavored ice cream topping, divided
frozen whipped topping
¼ to ½ cup cocoa & peanut butter fusion cereal (optional)
¼ to ½ cup peanut butter (optional)


  1. To Prepare Pizza Crust: Preheat oven to 325ºF. Lightly spray bottom of a 11 x 13” pan with sides (alternately, if making as a “pizza”, use a round 12 to 14” pizza pan – deep dish with sides) with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and milk chocolate baking chips; warm over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in crushed cereal. Using a flat surface, such as a measuring cup bottom, press the cereal mixture firmly over bottom and up sides of pan. Bake for 10 minutes; cool completely on wire rack.
  2. To Prepare Filling: In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and well blended. Mix in 2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping with spoon or spatula. Spread filling evenly over peanut butter crust and chill.
  3. Topping: Heat ¾ cup to 1 cup of the hot fudge flavored topping in microwave 45 seconds; spread topping evenly over the chilled peanut butter filling layer. Refrigerate or freeze 2 hours. Just before serving, spread remaining thawed frozen whipped topping over chilled hot fudge flavored layer.
  4. For decorative top, *heat an additional ¼ to ½ cup peanut butter in microwave for 40-45 seconds and drizzle over top layer of frozen whipped topping. Dip cereal pieces in additional heated hot fudge flavored topping and place randomly across top.
  5. Chill and serve.

Other details:

  • Makes 16 servings.
  • *Due to differences in microwave ovens, heating time may need adjustment.
  • Gotten from the back of cereal box.