Tag Archives: brownies

Granola Brownies: they’ve got granola in them, so they’re good for you…right?

Granola Brownies: breakfast or snack? You choose.


Last week, I experienced a “fail” on a first-time recipe. I attempted to make homemade granola bars with chopped dates, coconut, almonds and dark chocolate chips. While it tasted spectacular, the bars just never stuck together. Guess my granola mix was too dry. Next time, I’ll add more honey. BUT… from lemons we make lemonade, and from failed granola bars, we make granola (which was great over Greek yogurt, by the way). And since I can can never seem to leave anything alone, I decided to kick it up a notch by making granola brownies. I mean, it makes sense in an unconventional way. Oats are good with chocolate. So are almonds, dates and coconut. And nothing satisfies a craving for sweets like a brownie, so…

Here’s how it all went down:
1 stick of unsalted butter
3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of granola, divided
Optional Ingredient: 2-3 Tbsp. Hershey’s Dark chocolate syrup
(because I’ve learned that nothing makes chocolate brownies taste more chocolatey than adding more chocolate, or a pinch of instant espresso powder)

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate squares (and the optional chocolate syrup, if you so choose). Beat with a whisk until smooth, and add the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. In a small bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the chocolate mixture just until combined; do not over mix. Stir in 3/4 cup of your favorite granola (if it’s in bigger chunks, break it up). Press into an 8″ x 8″ baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of granola over the top and press gently so it sticks.

Bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes (depending on your oven) or until the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. Using the parchment paper or foil edges, lift the brownies from the pan and cut into squares. If you want nice, clean edges put your brownies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool, then cut into squares.

Tip: individual brownies can be plastic-wrapped and frozen for a quick snack to drop into your child’s lunchbox (or your own). It’s perfect for back-to-school snacks, after school snacks, or my-kids-are-grown-and-I-just-want-a-granola-brownie-for-myself treats. Unconventional? Perhaps, but they’re still nutty, and gooey, and delicious. And just like that, a fail becomes a win.

Recipe credit: brownie base is America’s Test Kitchen “Bake Sale Brownies”

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Just in time for Halloween: Eeeeeeeeek! Brownie Spiders!

If you’re looking for something clever but deceptively easy for Halloween this year, try brownie spiders. Yes, I know…it’s a little early for Halloween, but I want to give you plenty of time to think about making these. Brownie spiders are fun to make, even more fun to serve and eat, and they’re sure to be a hit with both adults and children. For parties, everyone can make and decorate their own fudgy friend. They’ll be the best spiders you’ve ever eaten!

Brownie Spiders - Creepy, Crawly Fun!

To make 10 spiders, you will need:
Two boxes of brownie mix (and all ingredients for the mix)
1 small package of regular M&M candies
1 tube of black Wilton Black Sparkle decorating gel
Ice cream & toppings, for serving

To Make the Spiders:
Mix up the brownies according to package directions. Pour into a lightly greased 13”x9” baking pan lined with waxed paper. Bake as directed, until the brownies are completely set. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Using the waxed paper liner, remove the brownies from the pan and move them to a large cutting board. Use a biscuit cutter or an empty metal can to cut out circular brownies for the spider bodies. Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop and shape spider heads by rolling smaller brownies into balls using your hands. Press two M&Ms into each spider head to make the eyes. Using the sparkle gel, draw one quick dot onto each eye to make pupils. You can have some fun here – make some looking down, some looking up, some cross-eyed.

To Decorate the Plates:
Using the Wilton black sparkle gel, draw concentric circles on each plate, then go back and draw straight lines across the plate from side to side and diagonal lines across each corner (see photo). It works best to work slowly and hold the gel tube just above the plate so it doesn’t touch. Once the webs are complete, place a spider in the middle of the plate.

To Serve:
Using an ice cream scoop, place a rounded scoop of ice cream (any flavor you like) onto each spider’s back. If you’re feeling really creative, try the following for topping themes:

The Plain Garden Spider – ice cream with no toppings
The Brown Recluse – ice cream with hot fudge sauce on top
The Black Widow – ice cream with blackberry sauce on top
The Tarantula – ice cream with everything under the sun on top
The Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider – ice cream with a shot of Kahlua (for adults only!)

The best kind of spider - chocolate!

I know, I know….I have too much time on my hands. But they’re cute, don’t you think? And the sparkle gel really looks great when it catches the light. And they taste great. My personal favorite is the Black Widow with blackberry sauce. So good! Would you rather have homemade Booberry sauce? Hee, hee…sorry. Enjoy, everyone. And happy early Halloween!

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Things I Love, Volume 4: Guittard Extra-Dark Chocolate Chips

Get Yourself Some Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips - 'Nuff Said

Holy schmoley…this here’s some world-class chocolate! It would be criminal not to share this information with chocolate chip lovers everywhere. These really rocked my world. Bake them into cookies, mix them into brownies, or eat them straight out of the bag, but you have to try them. They are that good. I’m a dark chocolate gal, and these babies are right up my alley…not too sweet, but not bitter at all. I would rate them a 99.9 out of 100, five out of five stars, two giant thumbs up, and an enthusiastic “hell, yeah!” I’m not a fanatic chocoholic, but I am a huge fan of these chocolate chips. They’re just better than all the others. I swear on a stack of cookbooks. I would never joke about chocolate. Ever.

My favorite chocolate chips used to be the American standard – Nestle Toll House semi-sweets. It’s what I grew up on. It’s probably what most of us grew up on. Then I discovered Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips, and they became my new favorite for the past few years. This February, I stumbled onto a grocery store clearance rack and found Guittard extra-dark chocolate chips. They were marked down to 99 cents a bag (post-Christmas), which was more than I could resist. I grabbed 6 bags and for 99 cents each, I felt like I was stealing them. Now I wish I’d bought them all. I should have bought them all. I had no idea they would be life changing. Or that they would all be gone the next day. Or that I would dream of chocolate chip cookies (not usually my favorite). Or that I would struggle with the compulsion to eat them straight out of the bag. For me, that’s the mark of a great chocolate chip. If I can eat them plain right out of the palm of my hand and be completely satisfied, it’s a winner. I could put these in a bowl and eat them with a spoon (hypothetically, of course…wink, wink).

If you’re a chocolate lover, get to your store and pick up some Guittard chocolate chips as soon as you can. Run if you have to. If you don’t love them, I’ll be stunned. Then I’ll probably e-mail to ask if you have a cold and your taste buds are impaired. If your store doesn’t carry them, go straight to the manager and ask for them. Don’t take no for an answer. I’d throw around the idea of a hunger strike, but who on earth could pull that off in a grocery store? I’d be sneaking Bugles and Ding Dongs or green olives and Guittard chocolate chips after the lights went out. I’d make a terrible hunger striker. I have no will power, which explains my love for chocolate chips. Man, I could use a cookie right now.

Disclaimer: NanaBread is not an employee of Guittard or any other chocolate company, which she deeply laments. In fact, she’s not an employee of any company right now, which The Complete Package deeply laments (hi, honey). While she would make an excellent chocolate taste-tester, travel show host or personal shopper, she has never been approached by any company to promote any product known to man or beast. She is simply an opinionated Texan who feels compelled to share her innermost thoughts with her readers. End of story.

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