Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oreo Brownies

Go ahead. I dare you. Google "best ever brownies". Don't worry I will wait. Done yet? Of course not! Google best ever brownies and you may as well kiss goodbye your afternoon your week.  Wait, I can hear you saying, I thought this was a post about "oreo brownies". It is! I promise.  But it started with a best ever brownie search and took shape from there. Every site, big to small, seems to have a "best ever brownie" recipe. I'm not a big of such claims to be honest.  I, mean, have they tasted every brownie recipe out there? From what my search did tell me, is that cocoa powder is the key ingredient. I know!  Simple cocoa powder. Everyone has a container of that in their pantry right? Not fussy tempered melted chocolate or a combination of both. So, I heeded advice from those that came before and went for it.

A good, nay, great brownie recipe should have two characteristics.  A crackly top. And a fudgey (fudgy?) interior.  Sorry, cakey brownie lovers, but fudgey wins over here. If I wanted cake, I'd eat cake! When I bite into a brownie, I expect to crunch through a chocolatey exterior to discover that ooey, gooey, fudgeyness (that's a word, right?) on the inside. These brownies delivered on both counts.  Crackly top? Check.  Fudgey interior? Check, check. Best ever brownies? Who knows, but they were d*#@ good! Have I got you clamoring to your cupboards to fish out that container of cocoa powder yet?

To be even more of a sweet genius, I threw in some crushed Oreos.  Have you seen the latest study on oreos? So you can't blame me for throwing them in. Perhaps, that also explains how when I had the idea earlier in the week to make oreo brownies and picked up a package that only a mere 3 days later only a dozen cookies remained.  Self control wasn't exactly my forte this week, people. It can't be helped, it's scientifically proven! Where are the oreos in those photos? I can hear you, out there! The recipe calls for pouring a hot butter and sugar mixture into a egg mixture. If you add the oreos in to the hot mixture, they tend melt into the batter. Trust me, you will still taste them, but you won't necessarily see them. If you are more patient then myself, wait about 20 minutes then add in your oreos. But, if you are like me then you throw them in and get to eating your brownies a little earlier! This is not a moment for delayed gratification.

I adjusted this recipe from a site I visit frequently, King Arthur Flour.  The original recipe called for Dutch-process cocoa powder. I could uncover a container of natural cocoa powder.  Fear not if you are in the same boat! Natural cocoa powder can be substituted for dutch process. So row on people!  If you want the full nitty gritty on these two cousins of powder, I highly recommend skipping on over to Joy The Baker, and read her post on Dutch vs. Natural Cocoa Powder. Then you should skip off to the pantry and whip up some of these brownies!

Oreo Brownies
Note: I used natural cocoa powder because that is all I had on hand. The original recipe calls for dutch process cocoa powder.  I can only speak for how my brownies came out. So use what you have! And I used 12 oreos because sadly that is all I had left! Of course, I highly recommend you use more!

Print this recipe!


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 oreos, crushed

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2. Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

3. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

4.Add the hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth.
5. Add the flour and oreos, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the oreos to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
6. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.
7. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cranberry Pecan Sweet Potato Bread

The last time I was home I got to visit the local cider mill.  A trip to the cider mill has been a tradition since childhood.  The smells of apples pie baking, fresh doughnuts frying, and spices hang in the air when you walk in the door.  It's absolutely intoxicating as you can imagine. The cider mill brings in local apples and presses them using an 80-year old apple press.  The young and old gather around to watch fresh made cider being made and smush even closer to get a free sample.  Besides being able to snatch up a gallon of the freshest cider around, a dozen of melt in your mouth fried doughnuts, and an apple pie I have yet to be able to duplicate in my own kitchen is being able to purchase other lovely jarred goodies I can never find in my local grocery store.  Case in point- sweet potato butter.  I decided to try out this sweet potato butter in a quick bread recipe for a nice change of pace from the typical apple and pumpkin recipes that around the internet at the moment. 

This is a simple quick bread recipe with traditional spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  It does have quite a bit of spice to it, so if you prefer less spice I would try reducing the amount of spices in the recipe.  The bread also calls for melted butter, instead of oil.  Next time I think I would try using vegetable oil.  I like the moistness that oil gives a to a quick bread recipe.  Although this bread is good, I think it could have been boosted a bit in the moistness department. 

The recipe does call for apple cider, which also gave me a chance to use up some of the fresh cider I watched get pressed. I also decided to throw in some dried cranberries and toasted pecans for some extra crunch and texture. Feel free to omit, or change it up. Hey it's your bread not mine!

If you aren't able to get a hold of a jar of sweet potato butter, and I totally get it using pumpkin butter or apple butter would be just fine I think.  You could also try using a mashed sweet potato.  Keep in mind, the sweet potato butter is sweetened and has vanilla flavoring added to it. So if you do us a sweet potato, I would suggest adding a little extra sweetness and some vanilla extract.  If you do try it with any of these suggestions, please let me know how it turns out!

Cranberry Pecan Sweet Potato Bread

Print This Recipe!

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
* 1 egg
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup apple cider
* 1/4 cup melted butter
* 1 cup sweet potato butter, divided
*  1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
* turbinado sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling


1.                Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.                Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

3.                Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl; set aside.

4.                Beat the egg in a bowl.

5.                Whisk in the brown sugar, apple cider, melted butter, and half of the sweet potato butter.

6.                Stir in the flour mixture until no lumps remain.

7.                Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread the remaining sweet potato butter over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

8.                Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean,  50 – 60 minutes.

9.                Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

Ok so it's been awhile since I've posted. I can hear you scoffing over there. Ok it's be a loooooong time- oh about six months give or take a day.  I decided to give this blogging thing a go one more time. I have to admit I got a little discouraged, blogging ain't easy! I decided if I was going to get back into though I was going to need to invest in a new camera.  My point and shoot just wasn't going to cut it. So with my new (ok used off of Amazon- I am a teacher folks and those fancy cameras aren't cheap!) camera in hand I'm giving this blogging thing a go one more time. So what did I make to celebrate my return? These delicious no wait... insanely delicious ok...so good that I hate to admit how many I ate- Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars.  I had a bushel? a lot of apples staring at me on the counter that I had to find something to do with. My friends and I had gone apple picking the weekend before and not being an apple picking expert I bought the BIG bag to fill. Well, folks, in case you are planning on going apple picking that BIG bag is way more apples than you know what to do with.  Consider yourself warned. 

These bars were a perfect little package of Autumn. And salted caramel anything? Count me in.  So apples, cinnamon, salted caramel. You can't go wrong. To me, they were like eating apple pie. Only you know easier to make and I didn't feel as guilty. Desserts in small form do that to me. Ok, so yea I ate probably way more than equivalent to a slice of pie so that logic totally doesn't count.  But if the crisp Fall air has you yearning for pie and simpler times these bars can deliver that. Well maybe not simpler times, but hey these bars should put a smile on your face.  What will I do with the rest of the apples adorning my countertop? Guess you will just have to wait and see... 

Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars
original source: Two Peas and Their Pod
Please note:  I cheated a little and used good jarred caramel sauce.  Feel free to do the same or go ahead and make your own.  Two Peas and Their Pod's original recipe includes a recipe for caramel sauce.  Either way, don't forget the caramel sauce at the end. Drizzle that stuff all over these little babies. Seriously, the caramel sauce at the end puts the bars over the top. (I apologize my picture does not include the final drizzle of caramel sauce!)

Print this recipe!


For salted caramel sauce
1 cup of your favorite jarred caramel
1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
For the Apple Filling:
5 cups peeled and diced apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. For the apple filling- place the diced apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground all-spice. Pour over the apples and carefully combine. Set aside.
3. For the dough-in a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or by using your hands, until butter is mixed in, but you still have small chunks of butter. Mix the egg and vanilla together. Add into the flour and butter mixture and combine. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.
4. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the bottom crust. Drizzle about salted caramel sauce over the apple filling, about 3/4 cup. Crumble the remaining dough over the apple caramel layer and pat gently.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Drizzle  the extra caramel sauce (feel free to drizzle as much as you like- 1/4 cup is just my suggestion, but who am I to tell you when to stop?) and an extra sprinkling of fleur de sel over the squares and serve.