Monday, December 28, 2015

Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies

 Pinterest is whipping out the fitness videos, these people just did a fitness Adele spoof, and I admit that we had salmon and zoodles for dinner tonight because... just because the roast/potato/cookie motif was getting a little old.

But let's not pretend there aren't those New Year's parties coming up. Or that you don't have ten billion leftover candy canes. Because I know you do. I remember my mom saving the extra candy canes from year to year--she'd just put them in the boxes with the other Christmas stuff and out they'd come for the next year (wonder why nobody ate them...). I, myself, in my extreme cheapskatery have been known to buy them post Christmas (oh, look, they're $.10 instead of a that whopping $.99; I'll save them for next year). And in my absolute defense, the sell-by dates weren't until the next year either, so if I didn't buy them cheap, the companies who make those things were probably just going to put them in their proverbial Christmas boxes and bring them out the next year too.

But perhaps we can all agree that there are better things to do with leftover candy canes than save them year after year. This one is so much better that you'll never have to save a candy cane again. Though you might have to pin a few extra fitness videos. You can thank me later.

Note: These are ridiculously, crazily over-the-top. In fact, I didn't think they'd be worth it. They are, friends, they are.

Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies
Makes 1 9x13 inch pan of brownies
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Cost: $8.00 (no, they're not really cheap, but don't worry--that's coming with the fitness videos. And to be fair they're way cheaper than any brownie you'll buy at Starbucks, so there you go. They're still just $.33/brownie)
$2.65 for brownies, 1.35 for chocolate chips, 2.00 for white chocolate chips, 2.00 for Andes mints (though to keep price down, use leftover candy from Christmas because you know you probably have some), milk: .10

1 recipe for Kip's brownies
4 oz Andes mints (or other leftover Christmas candy as long as it's chocolate-y or minty)
1 1/2 C chocolate chips
4 candy canes, chopped (or whizzed in a blender, which is so much better)
White Chocolate Ganache:
1 1/2 C white chocolate chips (a higher quality chip will incorporate better with the milk)
3/4 C milk or half and half

Here's what you do:

1. Make the batter for Kip's brownies
2. Pour half of it (a largish half--you can see in the pics above that I didn't pour enough into my bottom layer and the Andes mints were nearer to the bottom; not a problem, but...) into your 9x13 inch pan and spread around
3. Chop or break Andes mints (or other Christmas candy) and sprinkle over batter.
4. Pour remaining batter over candy and spread evenly.
5. Bake according to directions (note: brownies in metal pans bake quicker than brownies in glass; we use glass, so possibly cut some time if using metal)
6. When brownies are done and HOT, pour chocolate chips over top of them. Allow to melt and spread the chocolate.
7. Let chocolate cool (I did this overnight, but you can always refrigerate or freeze if you need it that day).
8. Make white chocolate ganache. Pour over chocolate layer
9. Sprinkle chopped candy canes over top of this. I hate chopping candy canes because they shatter and go everywhere, so I put mine in my magic bullet and gave it a whiz. They chopped beautifully and even got kind of powdery. I didn't think I'd like this, but I loved it--it was delicious and made it so the candy cane didn't overpower the brownie or get stuck in clumps in your molars.

And that's it. Hope you got your fitness videos pinned.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Five Fantastic Chocolate Christmas Cookies

I was going to post an amazing standard sugar cookie recipe for you today. Except I can't because the ones I made were only meh. I am currently on the prowl for an absolutely fantastic knock-your-socks-off sugar cookie recipe, so that hopefully next week I can lovingly present it to you, but this week all I had was a so so same-as-always-dough-tastes-better-than-cookie recipe and we can't be having that. So I'm going back to my safe zone: chocolate. And presenting you with five really fantastic chocolate cookies to make this season. Interestingly, I think that chocolate always gets the short shrift in Christmas cookie land. Maybe fudge just steals their thunder. But fudge won't be stealing any of this thunder because these cookies are amazing.

1. Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies. If you're a devoted cherry fan, these will be your new best friend, but even if you hate maraschino cherries, you can make these with other fillings like Andes mints or walnuts and they're wonderful.

2. Chocolate Sugar Cookies That Keep Their Shape. Now here is a sugar cookie to be proud of. Maybe I can't find a standard sugar cookie that I like, but this chocolate version makes up for that by, like, 10,000%. I like them better than Oreos and that's a fact.

3. Chocolate Cookies with Orange Sugar Zest. Perfection. That is all.

4. Nutella Cookies. These cookies are for the time-crunched, the stressed, the lazy (oh come on, you know who you are--don't be ashamed). It has four ingredients and you mix them. Chewy. Delicious. Easy. Hazzah.

5. Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Whoopie Pies). I love love love these--they rub Oreo's face in the dirt. You can do the center any color you wish or leave it white and roll it in sprinkles, sugar, or crushed candy canes. You could also flavor the center frosting with mint. 

Bonus. Seven Layer Cookies. Not an entirely chocolate cookie, but in our version the chocolate definitely dominates. Also, dumb easy and crowd-pleasing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pecan Brie: Dumb Easy Appetizer

Appetizer, party contribution, whatever--this brie is dumb easy, looks like angels made it, and can be eaten with crackers or fruit. It's also delicious, creamy, oozy, etc. It takes only minutes to throw together and then about 20 minutes to cook.

As for cost, you can often find brie for cheaper at this time of year or in discount grocery stores (like Aldi) where it's not sold all year. Additionally, it's super filling and packs a nice caloric punch, so you're getting plenty of caloric bang for your buck. Which is totally what everyone is going for at this time of year, right? (um, right?)

Pecan Brie
adapted from Hobo Kitchen
prep time: 3 minutes
cook time: 20-25 minutes
Cost: $3.00
brie: 2.00 (Aldi price), pecans:  .70, other stuff: .30

1 round (or wedge) Brie cheese, rind removed from top (or whole thing if you want) (I believe it was 14 oz.)
1 tsp butter, soft (and optional; I think this would still rock without it)
1 Tbsp honey (alternately, I think some raspberry jam would rock this)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 C chopped pecans

First of all, remove the upper rind from your Brie (you just cut it off with a knife). You can remove it from all sides (not just the top) if you like. It's edible, but not something everyone loves.

Secondly, pack that Brie into an oven-safe dish that holds it snugly. It's going to melt and get gooey and if you put it in a big old casserole dish, it will just ooze and bleb all over the place. Not the end of the world because we're talking about cheese here, but your presentation will bleb right along with it. So find a snuggly dish if you can.

Put the Brie in, top with with the butter, add pecans, then drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until it's hot and gooey.


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