Salted Caramel Brownies

20171108_155227When one door closes another one opens, yet instead of focusing on the closed door, I ended up developing these delicious brownies. The journey began after a long weekend of performances for my daughter at our church’s annual festival, in which I had no time left to shop for food like I normally would. I did manage to squeeze in some time to brainstorm recipes I planned on developing for Thanksgiving, the first of which was to be a lighter & more portable spin on monkey bread. I knew I already had all the ingredients on hand, including the all important yeast.

20171108_155319Well fast forward a few days and I was ready to make monkey bread. I grabbed all my ingredients from the pantry, including the all important yeast, only to discover it had expired ages ago. Any other day I would have just put everything back and started over once I picked up some fresh yeast from the store. The reason I couldn’t do that this time was because my oldest daughter was so excited to bake something I just couldn’t say no.

IMG_20171108_1I quickly searched the pantry for ideas but all the recipes I had begun developing all required ingredients I had yet to purchase so I couldn’t start those either. I spotted some cocoa powder and immediately thought about brownies. I decided that brownies would be quick and easy for her to make and something I had everything on hand for. As an added bonus to my quick thinking, I could easily dress up the brownie base my daughter helped make with caramel, drizzled chocolate, and sea salt, making them decadent enough to share here with all of you. Crisis officially diverted!

20171108_155342So if you need a last-minute, crowd-pleasing dessert or something fun amd easy to make with your kids, these rich layered caramel brownies dusted in flakes of sea salt will not disappoint!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Brownie Ingredients:

  • 3.4 ounces (¾ cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cup chopped Walnuts; toasted

Topping Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp.) Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Evaporated Fat-Free Milk
  • ¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate; coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. Coarse Sea Salt



  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat an 8 x 8 inch metal pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. To prepare brownies, combine flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine the 6 tbsp. melted butter, eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring well to combine. Gently stir in the walnuts until just combined.
  3. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool brownies completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. Once brownies have cooled completely, prepare the topping. In a small saucepan, melt 4 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add ¼ cup brown sugar and milk; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and Confectioners’ sugar. Stir with a whisk until mixture is smooth. Working quickly, spread caramel mixture over brownies, spreading evenly to coat all areas. Let stand 20 minutes or until caramel has set.
  5. Once caramel has set, place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 1 minute, or until melted, stirring every 20 seconds. Once melted stir just until chocolate is smooth then drizzle over caramel topping. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand until chocolate sets before cutting into squares.









Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

20170817_163227Next week my oldest daughter starts Pre-K and I will have to leave her side for the first time. I’m not sure who this will be harder on but I’m going to guess it will be me. It has been bittersweet buying her school supplies, uniforms, and picking out a backpack and lunchbox. With all of the school planning going on I thought why not offer an easy to make & packable dessert for kid’s to take in their lunchbox…like a brownie.

20170817_163057Since my daughter likes only a little bit of chocolate I elected to make blondies with peanut butter cups to provide the hint of chocolate she craves without going overboard (not to mention chocolate doesn’t hold up well in the Florida summer heat). I also added some peanut butter chips to the batter to give these blondies a more pronounced peanut butter flavor.

20170817_161115For this recipe I used the mini unwrapped milk chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. They come in both milk or dark chocolate. I prefer the dark chocolate variety, but I know kids often prefer milk chocolate, so to please a wider audience I went with milk chocolate. Don’t be afraid to experiment with dark chocolate if you know everyone you share these with will enjoy the stronger flavor.

It really doesn’t matter if you opt to make these for a school lunch or an adult indulgence, if you love the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter, you will surely love these peanut butter cup blondies!


Peanut Butter Cup Blondies



  • 5.6 ounces (1 ¼ cups) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1/3 cup Creamy Peanut Butter (preferably natural)
  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp.) Unsalted Butter; melted & cooled slightly
  • 2 tbsp. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 large Eggs; lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Peanut Butter Baking Chips
  • Mini Unwrapped Peanut Butter Cups (about 30)



  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir well with a whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the peanut butter, butter, milk, vanilla, and eggs. Stir well. Add the peanut butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in the peanut butter chips.
  4. Scrape batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Arrange peanut butter cups over batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan on a wire rack before serving.




Boozy Black & Tan Brownies

20170314_183558Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To most Americans (Irish ancestry or not), the day is likely spent sporting green colored clothing, eating corned beef & cabbage, and having an excuse to drink way too much Guinness or Bailey’s. This St. Patty’s Day I chose to make a boozy delight to honor the famous Irish stout, Guinness. These brownies are named after the well-known drink of the same name made up of part Guinness part Lager, however it would be wise to never order this drink in Ireland. If you happen to make that mistake you may be met with a bit of anger as the drink shares the same name as the British soldiers that were sent to Ireland to fight back the Irish rebels in the Easter Rising of 1916.

20170314_183739I will admit these brownies did not turn out quite as planned but rather than hide it I will share it so that others do not make similar mistakes. I expected the brownies to be a bit taller as I used straight from the bottle Guinness as opposed to flat. The problem likely occurred due to my little kitchen helper getting overzealous with the stirring of the batter. My second issue arose completely at the fault of my own. The brownies were not quite the texture I desire of a brownie. They resembled more of a cake-like bar and even seemed as if they were undercooked despite being left in the oven 5 extra minutes than intended. I think this was a result of using a glass baking pan instead of metal. This is only a theory though as it was the only difference compared to when I usually prepare brownies. Regardless of my few errors these were still delicious. Most desserts that claim to be boozy you can never taste the alcohol after it cooks but with these you definitely feel it. Give them a try!

Boozy Black & Tan Brownies

Tan Brownies Ingredients:

  •  6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 1 ½ cups Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4.5 oz. (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Chopped Walnuts

Black Brownies Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate; finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Guinness Stout
  • 4.5 oz. (1 cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Salt


  1. Place one oven rack in lower third of oven and move 2nd rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan (preferably metal) with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To prepare tan brownies, place 6 tbsp. butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla. Combine 4.5 oz. flour, baking powder, and ¼ tsp. salt. Add flour mixture and walnuts to sugar mixture, beating until just combined. Spoon into prepared baking pan, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula or other utensil. Bake for 15 minutes on lower rack.
  3. Meanwhile, to prepare black brownies, melt chocolate and 4 tbsp. butter in a large microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute (or until melted), stirring in 20 second intervals until smooth. Add sugar, stirring until well combined. Add 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, and Guinness, stirring with a whisk until well combined. Combine flour and salt, stirring well. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring to combine. Pour mixture evenly over cooked tan layer of brownies, making sure not to spread the batter and combine it with the tan layer.
  4. Bake brownies on center rack for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.




Fudge-Almond Brownie Tart

3If you are a chocoholic, it is likely that you often search for quick and easy chocolate fixes beyond the candy bar. Anyone with a weakness to chocolate knows it is really hard to stop at just one piece of chocolate, hence the search for more substance. This search usually includes chocolate infused into cakes, cookies, or brownies. If you easily tire from the same old box chocolate cake or bakery cookies, then this weakness can become a very big problem. Therefore, I bring you the Fudge-Almond Brownie Tart.

1I simply adore this brownie tart for several reasons. The main reason is its rich, intense chocolate flavor that makes your indulgent side squeal with delight. The other reason is how simple it is to put together. This tart looks elegant and time-consuming but it is really simple and comes together quickly. Another plus is the richness keeps you from eating way too much. Sure it clocks in at way more calories and fat then most recipes I like to prepare but it is meant to be an indulgent treat. It is not something you keep around all the time to munch on but it serves great for when chocolate cravings peak and you need to keep them in check with something more satisfying. Even though the numbers of this appear very high, I guarantee when the chocolate cravings hit, you will consume way more calories and fat if you munch on a chocolate bar versus this tart. One slice will easily satisfy any and all chocolate/dessert cravings, whereas it will take several pieces of chocolate to get the same result. I assure you, several pieces of chocolate will easily turn into way more calories and fat (coming from experience).

2Now if you are not stressing out on a diet or are serving this for guests I suggest pairing it with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. It adds just an extra bit of indulgence and the smooth texture complements the richness and crunch of the tart. The tart will serve up to 10 guests. If you need to accommodate a larger crowd the recipe can easily be doubled. Enjoy!!!

Fudge-Almond Brownie Tart


  • Cooking Spray
  • ½ cup Sliced Almonds; toasted
  • 4 oz. Dark Chocolate Baking Chips (such as Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 2.25 oz. All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 tbsp. Dutch Processed Cocoa; sifted
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs (large)
  • 6 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract


  1. Move oven rack to lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray. Arrange the sliced almonds evenly in the bottom of the greased pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and butter together. Microwave approximately 30 to 60 seconds, stirring at 15 second intervals, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl add the flour, cocoa, and salt. Stir mixture with a whisk until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs. Mix with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed until the mixture is pale and thick (approximately 2 minutes). Continue beating on medium speed and gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar dissolves (approximately 2 minutes). On low speed add the corn syrup and vanilla, beating until combined. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until well blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture, beating until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter in the prepared pan, spreading evenly over the sliced almonds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the tart comes out with a few crumbs. Cool the tart in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert tart onto a serving platter and enjoy! Can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days if not serving immediately.


(1 Wedge)

Fudge Almond Brownie Tart NutritionLabel








Weight Watchers: 10 Smart Points, 7 Points Plus, or 5 Traditional Points






Mississippi Mud Brownie Bites

20140701_174640-1With the days of summer vacation coming to an end in the coming weeks for most kids here in Florida, now is the time to head to the beach or make that last trip to the theme parks before school resumes. In Iowa, where I’m from, it is the last days to go out on the river… the Mississippi River. Now compared to the ocean, the Mississippi is surely not as graceful (the murky, muddy water is sure to turn off many not used to it), but it lends locals a place to cool off and enjoy the heat much like Floridians do in the ocean.

Despite the rather disgusting appearance of the Mississippi, it has caused several desserts to be named in its likeness. I’m sure some of you are now wondering how I can call the Mississippi River rather disgusting in appearance and then turn around and state there are desserts named after it. Surely those desserts must not be very appetizing. Well in fact they are extremely delicious and the name can be rather deceiving. The reason desserts, like this one, take on the name Mississippi Mud, is a result of the dense, gooey texture of the confection, which is similar to the texture the silt has that settles in the Mississippi River Delta. The silt is what gives the Mississippi its notorious muddy, murky water.

20140701_174603Now that you understand these brownie bites won’t taste like murky mud and are probably more interested in making them we can talk a bit more about them. These little brownies are moist, fudgy bites topped with melted marshmallows. They are extremely simple to prepare and the only thing you must be sure not to do is overbake them. They are supposed to be moist and fudgy so when you initially pull them out of the oven they may still appear to be under-baked but they will continue to cook in the pan and when you melt the marshmallows under the broiler.

20140701_174957If you are pressed for time you can always use a box brownie mix but I prefer to make them from scratch because they come out with a better texture. This recipe makes about 24 mini brownie bites. You can make a larger, brownie cup version by filling standard muffin cups instead of using a mini muffin pan, however, keep in mind the yield will be a lot less. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 2 days.


Mississippi Mud Brownie Bites



  • 6 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 5 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Walnuts, chopped
  • 1 bag Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 container Dipping Chocolate (sold in baking aisle)



  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 325°. Melt chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl placed over a medium saucepan filled with about ½ inch of barely simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the water. Stir occasionally, until mixture is smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes; cool slightly.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar and eggs together. Add the melted chocolate mixture, whisking until incorporated. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in the walnuts.
  3. Fill each cup of the muffin tin evenly with batter, about halfway full. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few wet crumbs attached, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven.
  4. Preheat broiler. Arrange marshmallows on top of warm brownie bites, filling in all the space.  Broil, keeping a close eye to make sure marshmallow does not burn, about 1 minute. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. For the topping, melt dipping chocolate by following directions on package. Take a brownie bite and dip the top in the chocolate, making sure not to dip to far so that some of the marshmallow remains exposed. Repeat with all the bites. If the chocolate begins to get too stiff, microwave for 30 seconds to loosen.







Peppermint Brownie Bites

dsc_0163Does it feel like 2013 is already flying by for everyone??? For myself it definitely has. I know the posts have been lacking in frequency lately but it has been a crazy past few weeks for me. I just recently gave birth to my first child at the end of January and it has been a whirlwind ever since. From the sleepless nights to family staying in the house for a visit, it has not been the ample environment for baking and blogging. Have no fear though… I did squeeze in some time for a quick little Valentine’s Day themed post since the holiday is fast approaching.

dsc_0197Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that… for most… can be controversial depending on your relationship status at the time. For me it has always been a good day despite my former single years. Although there was a time I hated the holiday more than I do now, I still always dreamed of the day I would be able to share it with someone who would appreciate me and appreciate spending such a day with me. Now I no longer have to dream of that day but actually get to experience it… so all those years of waiting were not in vain and I’m glad that I never looked at the holiday too sourly just because I may have been a bit bitter toward all the mushy stuff at the time. The recipe I present to you today is one that I made during those single years and have carried with me ever since. They are quick and simple which gives you ample time to spend with your sweetheart. Depending on the tastes of the ones your sharing these little bites with, you can either leave them plain, frost them, or add a little decal to the frosting for added character. I left some plain for my boyfriend since he doesn’t care for frosting and I frosted the rest with decals added to bring out the Valentine’s Day theme further.

dsc_0200Besides using pink frosting and heart decals for a Valentine’s theme, I also used a small heart cookie cutter to cut the cooled brownies into a fitting shape. With that said, you can make these brownie bites for different holidays in the future by using alternative shapes or simply cutting them into squares for everyday munching. I am going to provide a formula for the brownies, however if you really want to shortcut the process and need to make these brownies in a jiffy, you can use a box brownie mix, plain fudge or double fudge recipes only, and follow the package instructions for preparation. Once the batter is prepared, pour half in the pan, cover with peppermint candies, then spread the remaining batter over top and bake as directed. I don’t recommend as from scratch is always better and doesn’t have that synthetic artificial taste but it is always great to have a quick go to method for emergencies which is why I will still mention it as you never know when you may need to prepare something and be short on time. I couldn’t be more aware of that now with having a newborn in the house of a baker.

dsc_0207Peppermint Brownie Bites


  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
  • ¾ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 16 York Peppermint Patties (or other chocolate covered Peppermint candy)


  1. Adjust the oven rack to its middle position and heat to 350°. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil and be sure to leave an overhang of about 1 inch on all sides. 
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together over a double boiler. Set aside to cool slightly. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Gently fold in the flour mixture until just incorporated. 
  3. Pour enough batter to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Spread the batter evenly and tap on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles. There should be about 1 cup of batter remaining to pour on top. Arrange the peppermint patties over the smoothed batter. Be sure to leave about ½ in. between each piece. Pour the reserved batter over the peppermint candies and smooth. 
  4. Bake the brownies until just set in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack for approximately 2 hours. Once cooled, grab the foil overhang and lift the brownies from the pan. Place the brownies on a cutting board. Choose a cookie cutter shape and carefully arrange and cut out the brownies in your desired shape making sure to strategically plan out your placement of the cutter to maximize the amount of shaped brownies you will receive. Once cut, you can leave the shapes plain or frost them with a flavor and color of your choice. Brownies can be stored at room temperature for 3 days.