Tag Archives: chocolate

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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Ooey-Gooey Little Chocolate Cakes

Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Cakes - straight from the oven

I have a confession to make. Lately, I’ve been craving chocolate; deep, dark, ooey-gooey chocolate. So naturally, when I found this recipe for Chocolate Dessert Cakes that look almost black from their dark, chocolately goodness… well, let’s just say I got excited. When I saw they were made in individual ramekins with a handful of ingredients I already had in my pantry… well, let’s just say I got more excited. So excited I hit print and ran immediately to my kitchen. R.A.N. You heard me! And trust me, I don’t run for much.

This recipe could not be easier. See for yourself:

6 ounces of butter, melted
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
3 eggs
½ teaspoon of almond extract (I added this; it’s optional)
1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of good-quality cocoa powder
6 squares of dark chocolate (about ¼ ounce each)

Start by pre-heating your oven to 325F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, both sugars, eggs and extract; mix until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and again mix until well combined. The batter will be thick.

Place six 8-oz. ramekins into a baking pan. I used five, because that’s what fit in my 8″ square baking pan and it worked out just fine. I also sprayed them lightly with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Place one square of chocolate into the bottom of each ramekin. Side Note: I used Special Dark, but you could also use Andes chocolate mints, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or your personal favorite. Why not, right?

Using an ice cream scoop (or a spoon), divine divide the batter equally among the six ramekins. Because the batter will be thick, you may need to use the back of your scoop or spoon to press it gently into the ramekin.

Place on the center rack of your oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Do not bake longer! The centers are supposed to stay gooey and wonderful.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

To store, put them into empty cans of beets or spinach that have been thoroughly washed and dried, then push them to the back of your fridge. Why? Because sharing is totally overrated.

Recipe Credit: The Instant Cook by Donna Hay and FoodNouveau.com

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Rocky Road Cake Mix Cookies


Cake mixes are on sale at my grocery store. That’s a bad thing. Bad, bad, bad. Did I mention they were only 50 cents a box? Yeah. It’s not just bad, it’s dangerous. I bought six. Okay, I bought eight, but that does NOT make me a cake mix hoarder. Funny thing is, I’m not really a cake eater. In an effort to rationalize the irrational, I was thinking the kids love cupcakes, and I could bake them when they come to visit or vice versa. But then I started doing the math. Each box makes at least 20 cupcakes. I have 8 boxes. There’s a good chance that 160 cupcakes might just be too much for two small children. Way too much.

So now I have eight cake mixes that I got for the low, low price of 50 cents a box and I have to think of something to do with them. That’s when a light went off and I remembered seeing recipes for cake mix cookies on the internet. “I like a cookie!” (Name that movie…if you have young children and enjoy animated films.) With a little quick research, I found that you can covert a cake mix into cookies with a few simple ingredients. And that’s exactly what I done did.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 chocolate fudge cake mix, 18.25 ounce box
3 large eggs
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (not pictured)
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup pecan pieces

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. This will start out very dry and take several minutes of hand mixing to get it to come together. I recommend using a heavy-duty wooden spoon, because this dough will be very thick. Once you’ve got it mixed together, stir in the chocolate chips, marshmallows and pecans. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, place golf-ball size dough balls onto cookie sheets lined with silicone baking mats or lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350F for 14-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the cookie sheets for at least 20 minutes. Why? Because those marshmallows are going to be melted, gooey little napalm bombs and cooling them completely on the cookie sheets will allow you to remove them more easily. Would you like one? I’m happy to share. I’ve got a lot more cake mix where this one came from.


This recipe makes approximately 30 cookies. One last suggestion – make sure you have milk in the fridge before you mix these puppies up. Or a cup of coffee. Or a Slim-Fast.

RECIPE UPDATE: A reader on the Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site tried this recipe and said hers came out too dry on the outside. I’m guessing her oven may get hotter than mine, since my batch came out soft and chewy. If your oven runs hot, you may want to reduce your baking time to 11-12 minutes instead of the 14 recommended. These don’t brown, so it’s hard to tell if they’re done by looking. The other option is to touch test them. If they’re relatively firm and dry on the outside, take them out of the oven. If they’re still sticky to the touch or too soft, leave them in a little longer. I appreciate your feedback!

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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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