Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

On the food blogosphere this recipe has been going around for quite some time, so I figured I should put it to the test!

A couple of tips:

  • Line 8×8 pan with foil for easy clean up.
  • Use margarine, instead of butter for the foil.  (Margarine is easier to spread in the foil than butter.)
  • I omitted the walnuts, simply because I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like buying some.
  • I microwaved the butter in a safe proof bowl.  It’s just faster.

Red Velvet Brownie Layer:
1 stick unsalted butter (melted in microwave)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened/room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Foil and grease (margarine is okay) an 8×8 baking pan, and set aside.   Make sure to line the pan with foil!

Brownie layer:
Melt butter in microwave.  Remove the butter to a large bowl.  Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, mixing between additions.  Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir in cocoa mix.  Fold flour until lightly combined.  Pour batter into baking pan, save 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer:
Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. (Hand mixer recommended)  Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer.  Using tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern.  Bake the brownies for 30 minutes.

Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.  (At least 2 hours for cooling)

Original recipe found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/red-velvet-swirl-brownies-recipe/index.html

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Samoa Cookie Bars!

Made these for my coworkers back in April, just now I get around to blogging about it.  It was a pretty successful recipe: tasted great!  (This recipe does require a lot of TLC though; it sure takes a long time.)  Did change the order of putting this together and one little step at the end, read all the way through.

Recipe is from Baking Bites:  http://bakingbites.com/2009/02/homemade-girl-scout-cookies-samoas-bars/

Step 1: Coconut Topping

  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 300.  Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides). Toast for about a total of 20 minutes, stir/check on it every 5 minutes.  Coconut will be golden when done.  Remove from oven, cool, and set aside.

** I did this part first, because this required the oven to be at 300 degrees and the cookie base at 350 degrees.  I wanted to gradually increase the temperature on my oven.**

Step 2: Cookie Base:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Set oven to 350F. Make the crust.  Line a 13×9 pan w/ parchment paper.  (It’ll be easier to lift out and cut then.)

In a electric mixer, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla extract.  Slowly beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand.  (Don’t overbeat!)   Pour into 13×9 pan and make crust even with hands.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Step 3: Chewy Topping

  • 12-oz of chewy caramels (I got a bag of these from Target.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk (used 2%)

Begin with a double boiler on the stove.  Unwrap the caramels and add the milk and salt.  Cook on high until the caramels, milk, and salt are melted together.  Remove from heat, add the toasted coconut.

Evenly spread over shortbread base using a spatula.   Let harden/cool

Step 4: Putting it all together

  • 10 oz of chocolate chips

When cooled, cut into bars.  (Lift from the parchment paper to make it easier to cut.
Melt chocolate chips in double boiler (or microwave in short intervals.)  I used the double boiler method.  Using an offset spatula spread a layer of chocolate onto the base of the bar.  (I tried dipping, but then the base would crumble and make my chocolate messy.)  Place on wax  paper or silicon baking mat to dry.

Take remaining chocolate mixture and put in zip lock bag with the corner cut off.  Drizzle over cookie and make a pretty design.  =)

Store in airtight container and enjoy!!!

Snickerdoodles


This year I inherited the book, 1001 Cookie Recipes: The Ultimate A-To-Z Collection of Bars, Drops, Crescents, Snaps, Squares, Biscuits, and Everything That Crumbles. The previous owner of the book had only tried 1 recipe out of 1001, so I was skeptical of the potential results.

Browsing through the many recipes, I noticed that most of them called for vegetable shortening. Shortening is an ingredient that I try to avoid. I don’t consider myself a “health freak,” but I try to avoid unnecessary calories when appropriate.

The ORIGINAL recipe (as seen in the book) – pg 387:

Dough:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Cinnamon Sugar:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Abbreviated instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt
  • In large bowl, cream shortening (or butter), and sugar. Beat in eggs. Beat in vanilla extract. Gradually blend the dry ingredients.
  • In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.
  • Pinch off 1 inch pieces of dough and roll into balls. (Or use a cookie dropper.) Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar and place 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.


Instead of (my substitution):

  • Vegetable shortening – I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Cooking and Baking


Some pictures:

In the cinnamon sugar.

On the baking sheet.

Final Thoughts:

  • Would I make them again? Yes. These cookies (even using a butter/shortening substitute) were very soft and cake-like.
  • Suggestions: Before baking, press dough slightly on baking sheet so it doesn’t look like a perfect ball. Just a nice circle will do.