Cream Cheese Brownies

September 16, 2007

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An easy mix brownie treat for a busy day … If you don’t like mixes, make Basic Brownies and layer the cream cheese in the middle. Either way, your family will adore you! SAM

1 (22.5-ounce) package brownie mix (family size)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, prepare the brownie batter as directed on the package. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the vanilla and egg, stirring well.
On the bottom of the prepared pan, spread half the brownie batter. Cover with the cream cheese mixture. Top with the remaining brownie batter and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 2-inch squares.
Makes 2 dozen brownies.


Chocolate-Orange Icing

September 15, 2007

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This easy confectioner’s sugar icing is perfect for Orange Brownies. It also makes a great icing for sheet cakes you leave in the baking pan. If you want a flavor other than orange, trade out the orange liqueur for raspberry or almond or lemon, whatever strikes your fancy. SAM

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 ounce unsweetened baker’s chocolate
2 tablespoons half-and-half
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
4 tablespoons toasted, sliced almonds

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate. Stir in the half-and-half. Add the confectioner’s sugar, salt, and orange liqueur, stirring until smooth. Spread over the top of the cooled brownies or a cake and sprinkle with almonds.
Makes enough icing for 2 dozen brownies or one 13 x 9 x 2-inch cake.


Orange Brownies

September 14, 2007

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The orange flavor in these fragrant brownies comes from an orange liqueur, like Cointreau or Grand Marnier. You can serve them plain, or ice them with an orange liqueur-flavored icing. Either way, they’re absolutely delicious. SAM

1 cup shortening
4 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate-Orange Icing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt together the shortening and chocolate. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Stir a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate mixture into the eggs to temper them. Then add the remaining chocolate mixture and orange liqueur, then the flour and salt, stirring until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before icing and/or cutting into 2-inch squares.
Makes 2 dozen brownies.


Butterscotch-Chocolate Chip Squares

September 13, 2007

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There seems to be a great divide in home cooking between cooks who use mixes and cooks who don’t. Some swear by them; some swear at them. It’s one of those ‘neither the twain shall meet’ cruxes. A handy mix, though, tucked away in your cabinet or freezer, can sometimes mean the difference between a fun dessert and no dessert at all—like these easy, last-minute bar cookies. SAM

2 cups biscuit mix
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix, brown sugar, water, and eggs. Stir in the pecans and chocolate morsels. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until set. Cool in the pan before cutting into 2-inch squares.
Makes 2 dozen squares.


Toffee Squares

September 12, 2007

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One of the great things about brownies is how quick they are to make. You don’t have to parcel them out like cookies on separate baking sheets. Just pour the batter into a baking pan, pop it into the oven, and you’re all set. For these extra-easy toffee squares, you don’t even need a mixer. And the yummy icing is nothing but melted chocolate morsels. SAM

1 cup butter, melted (2 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 (12-ounce) package chocolate morsels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg yolks and stir until blended. Add the flour and oats and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle immediately with chocolate morsels, spreading evenly when melted. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into 2-inch squares.
Makes 2 dozen squares.


Peanut Butter Brownies

September 11, 2007

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When I was small, I had friends who lived on peanut butter, very nutritious, apparently, because they grew up just fine. Now that dark chocolate has crossed ranks from forbidden fruit to the ‘eat a square every day and live forever’ category—something to do, I believe, with antioxidants—Peanut Butter Brownies must be the ultimate in health food! Isn’t cooking fun? SAM

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder and add to the butter mixture, beating until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into 1 1/2-inch squares.
Makes 3 dozen squares.


Basic Brownies

September 10, 2007

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It’s almost impossible to be sad when you’re eating a good brownie. Use the best chocolate you can find for these basic beauties. Trade the brandy for vanilla extract if you’d like, or the walnuts for pecans or hazelnuts. Double the recipe for a crowd. But be sure not to over-bake them. The brownies will be soft when you take them from the oven. SAM

2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon brandy
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water or in a microwave, melt the chocolate and the butter and set aside. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the eggs until foamy. Lower the speed to medium and add the sugar gradually. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until just blended. Add the brandy. Combine the flour and salt and add slowly, beating until just blended. Stir in the walnuts by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Do not over-bake. The brownies will be soft and cracked on top. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into 1 1/2-inch squares.
Makes 3 dozen brownies.