Mamoo’s Brownies

IMG_4400

For years I have been convinced my Grandma McGee, aka Mamoo, left something out of her brownie recipe.

Mamoo made these brownies every Christmas. I mean, they were expected to be ready for consumption as soon as we hit the door of her Temple, Texas home.  These brownies were part of the assortment of treats she would stash in old cookie and popcorn tins along with the divinity, fudge, shortbread cookies and trash. And they are amazing!  So why were mine never turning out like hers?!

I figured it out.  I was impatient.  The oven temperature and the piece about letting the brownies cool in the pan – those things matter. Once I reduced the oven temperature to 325 and stop worrying about the brownies sticking in the pan, it worked! My brownies started to turn out just like HERS! These are a somewhat crumbly, crackly brownie that is more on the fudgy side of dessert.

And they store really well in cookie tins.

Mamoo

I did make one adjustment – you can add an extra egg in if you prefer a softer, more cakey brownie.  That’s a personal call 😊


Mamoo’s Brownies

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup flour 
  • 1 egg, beaten – for fudgey, crumbly brownies (2 eggs for more cake-like brownies)
  • 2 T cocoa
  • 1 cup nuts – pecans, walnuts

Butter an 8×8 baking dish by taking a little softened butter and smooshing it all around the dish.  Make sure you get those corners!

IMG_4366

Mix the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, flour, egg and cocoa powder in a bowl.  I like to make this even easier and use a hand-held mixer. Piece of cake….err… brownie!

IMG_4369

The batter is really thick and grainy from the brown sugar.  If you like a cakier brownie, that extra egg will make the batter a little looser than shown here.

IMG_4370

Sprinkle a little flour on the nuts and stir them into the batter.  Mamoo always said this was to keep the nuts from sinking to the bottom of the dish.

IMG_4372

Spread the batter into the baking dish using a knife.  It’s a thick, sticky batter and the knife will help you push it out to all the edges.

Bake at 325 for 20-25 min.  You want to be able to tell that the center is set and the edges have just started to pull away from the dish.

Let cool the brownies cool in the pan but run an knife around the edge while the brownies are still a little warm to loosen edges.

IMG_4377

When they are cool, you should be able to flip the brownies out of the pan and cut them into squares.  If you go the one-egg route you’ll get a fudgier, crumblier brownie.  If you add the extra egg, the brownies are slightly fluffier and more cake-like, as on the right below.

Either way, it’s a tasty brownie that I always seem to have the ingredients on-hand for! Test them out and let me know what you think – are you a one-egger or two-egger?


Full Recipe

Mamoo’s Brownies

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup flour 
  • 1 egg, beaten – for fudgey, crumbly brownies (2 eggs for more cake-like brownies)
  • 2 T cocoa
  • 1 cup nuts – pecans, walnuts

Butter an 8×8 baking dish.

Mix the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, flour, egg and cocoa powder in a bowl.

Sprinkle a little flour on the nuts and stir them into the batter.

Spread the batter into the baking dish using a knife.

Bake at 325 for 20-25 min.

Let cool in pan and run an knife around the edge while warm to loosen edges.

Cut into squares. 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

10

Here’s a bonus sweet one for y’all!  I don’t even have a great story to go with it because this is just one of those recipes that somehow showed up in our family recipe box and has been made time and time again.  Any time I take this cake somewhere I am asked for the recipe and I hope you can see why!  It’s called a pound cake, but the special ingredient of the instant pudding mixes make the cake soooooooooooo moist and less dense than a typical pound cake.  As an added bonus, you can switch up the flavors of the cake, pudding mixes and stir-in (the chocolate chips in the original recipe) to make many different variations of this pound cake. I mean, how can you not love that?!

I think next time I’ll try Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake.  Or Vanilla Pecan.  Or Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip. Oh goodness… I may be in trouble 😉


Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 c water
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups if you are swapping for something else)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix everything together but the chocolate chips. Get rid of any large lumps of cake or pudding mix but it’s okay to have some small lumps in your batter.

Stir in the chocolate chips.  This batter is pretty thick, just make sure that the chips are pretty evenly mixed through.

3

Bake in greased bundt pan for 1 hour.  I place the bundt pan on a cookie sheet just as a safety net… but it bakes up in the bundt pan nicely each time.

Let the cake cool a few minutes before you run a butter knife along the edge and turn it out onto a plate.  The cake is AMAZING as is… but also nice with a simple glaze or whipped cream.  We went for the glaze on this one – just a simple mix of powdered sugar with a little milk.  Play with the amounts to get the thickness of glaze you prefer but trust me, it doesn’t take much milk!  Start with just a tablespoon and work up from there.

What variation will you try?  After the classic Chocolate Chip, of course 😉

9


Full Recipe

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 c water
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix everything together but the chocolate chips.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake in greased bundt pan for 1 hour.

Let cool a few minutes before turning out onto a plate.

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

IMG_3249

Last year as my Valentine’s gift to you I shared one of my favorite recipes, Crème Brûlée.  It’s still top of my list 🙂

However, we gotta mix it up a bit!  This year for Valentine’s Day, let’s go chocolate.  We use bittersweet chocolate for this recipe, specifically I grabbed a bag of the Ghiradelli semisweet chips, and that gives the dessert a rich, deep chocolate taste.  I’d say that’s a Valentine treat for any sweetheart!

Are you making a treat for your love this year? What’s on the menu?


Chocolate Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup, plus 3 T sugar, plus additional for topping
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • up to 1 T vanilla

Preheat the oven to 250.

Heat the cream and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.  Keep the mixture on the heat, stirring occasionally, until the cream just starts to simmer – you’ll notice this most by small bubbles rising at the sides of the pot.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chocolate until the mixture is nice and smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 3 T sugar until well blended and a pale shade of yellow. Whisk in the vanilla – I like a good hearty tablespoon, but you may want to start with a 1 1/2 teaspoons if you aren’t as big of a fan.

Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so you don’t cook the egg yolks.  I mean, they’d be chocolate-flavored egg yolks… but still.  Go slow.  Once you have it all whisked together, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or some cheesecloth to catch any bits you don’t want in your finished product.

Set four ramekins or small baking dishes in a large roasting pan.  Pour the chocolate custard evenly into the ramekins, then pour hot water into the roasting pan around the ramekins, letting the water level come up to about halfway on the dishes.  Place the roasting dish in the oven on a middle rack.  Bake the custards until just set, about 60-70 minutes.

Let the custards cool completely at room temperature.  Then wrap them up in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least one hour.

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of granulated sugar across the top of each custard and rock it back and forth a bit so that the top is evenly coated with a layer of sugar.  Using either a kitchen torch or the oven broiler, melt and brown the layer of sugar.  A kitchen torch will give you more control and a more even brown across the top.  If you are using your broiler, keep a very close eye on the custards, you may want to move them a bit halfway through and the process will happen fairly quick.

Let the desserts cool just until the sugar hardens and serve.  For me, two of the best things about Crème Brûlée is not only the texture difference between the creamy custard and the hard sugar shell but the contrasting temperature between cold and warm as well.  I have to admit… Crème Brûlée will always be one of my favorites – in any flavor!

IMG_3252


Full Recipe

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup, plus 3 T sugar, plus additional for topping
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • up to 1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 250.

Heat cream and ¼ cup sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Keep over the heat, stirring occasionally, until cream just starts to simmer.

Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth.

In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3 T sugar until blended and pale yellow.

Whisk in vanilla.

Slowly whisk cream mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly so as to not cook eggs.

Pour through fine mesh sieve.

Set four ramekins in a large roasting pan.

Pour custard evenly into ramekins.

Pour hot tap water into roasting pan, about halfway up sides of ramekins.

Place roasting dish in the oven on middle rack.

Bake until just set, 60-70 minutes.

Let custards cool completely at room temp.

Refrigerate at least one hour.

Sprinkle about 1 T granulated sugar across the top of each custard so it is well covered.

Use a kitchen torch or broil the sugar until melted.  

Let cool until sugar hardens and serve.

Shortbread Carmelitas

IMG_1397(1)

Have you ever had a Carmelita?  Typically, a Carmelita is a soft oatmeal cookie stuffed with caramel and chocolate.  While that is pretty darn tasty… shortbread takes the cake, oops – I mean the cookie bar, here. It’s a brown sugar pecan shortbread, giving the Carmelita a nutty little update.  I also can’t resist adding a little salt to the caramel sauce in the middle of the bar.  I tend to think salted caramel is the stuff dreams are made of, though.

I hope you enjoy my take on Carmelitas!  What’s your favorite cookie bar?


Shortbread Carmelitas

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks/1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 40 caramel squares unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for salted caramel sauce)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Extra chocolate chips for topping

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line an 8×8 pan with foil, coming up the sides of the pan so you can grab and lift the bars out of the pan after cooling.  Spray the foil with nonstick spray.

In a food processor, grind together the toasted pecans and flour. Add the sugar, salt and cold cubes of butter and pulse to fine crumbs.

Keep pulsing until the dough starts to come together.  Don’t process so long that the butter starts to warm up too much and the dough is overworked – you want a soft, crumbly dough.  If you don’t have a food processor handy, or just enjoy the workout, you can also mix the dough in a bowl using two knives or a pastry cutter.

Press about two-thirds of the dough in an even layer in prepared pan and use a fork to prick little holes all over the top of the dough.

img_1365.jpg

Bake until lightly golden brown and not completely set, about 12-15 minutes.

While the dough bakes, starting mixing up the carmel sauce. In a microwavable bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels and cream. Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds, until the sauce is smooth and easy to stir.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over the shortbread. Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate.

img_1369.jpg

Crumble the remaining shortbread mixture over the top.

IMG_1371

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is set. After taking the bars out of the oven, sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips over the top and let it sit for a couple minutes. Once the chocolate chips are softened a bit, gently take a knife and streak the chocolate across the top of the bars.  

I’m not so fancy with the chocolate on top of my Carmelitas.  Fancier people might melt down the reserved chocolate chips and then drizzle the melted chocolate across the top in a nice design.  You do you 😉

Let bars cool completely in the pan before slicing so the caramel and chocolate will set.

Pro tip:  these Shortbread Carmelitas can also be placed in the fridge to cool quickly.  They are also delicious cold!

IMG_1414


Full Recipe

Shortbread Carmelitas

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks/1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 40 caramel squares unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for salted caramel sauce)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Extra chocolate chips for topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Line an 8×8″ pan with nonstick aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a food processor, grind together the toasted pecans and flour.

Add the sugar, salt and butter and pulse to fine crumbs.

Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess; the dough should be somewhat crumbly.

Press about two-thirds of the dough in an even layer in prepared pan.

Prick dough all over with a fork.

Bake until lightly golden brown and not completely set, about 12-15 minutes.

While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.

In a microwavable bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels and cream.

Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds, until the sauce is smooth and easy to stir.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over the shortbread.

Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate.

Crumble remaining shortbread mixture over the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is set.

Sprinkle reserved chocolate chips over the top and let sit for a couple minutes.

Gently take a knife and streak the melted chocolate across the top of the bars.

Let bars cool completely in the pan before slicing so the hot caramel and chocolate will set.

Black Forest Pudding

IMG_9487

Ready for something sweet?

This recipe comes from my mom.  I’m not really sure why we call it Black Forest Pudding, since historically anything labeled “Black Forest” includes cherries and this one is most definitely cherry-free.

Grandpa McGee hates cherries.  As a result of this, my sister, Laura, and I would love to sit next to him at dinner.  Grandma McGee often made a fruit salad with dinner and, of course, fruit salad has cherries.  Grandpa would start the meal by picking up his medicine Grandma had thoughtfully put on his dinner plate, swallow it with a gulp of tea, make a big face of disgust to make us girls giggle, then slyly start picking all the cherries out of this fruit salad and slip them on our plates.  It was the highlight of every meal, followed only by Grandma’s fabulous cooking itself.  I’m going to guess that this recipe was developed to ease some of Grandpa McGee’s cherry pains.

After cooking the crust, this dessert is chilled and can be easily made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.  I’ve often made this as a housewarming or potluck dish as it travels well.

If you like cherries, you could easily add a cherry pie filling between the cream cheese and chocolate pudding layers.  Go ahead… I won’t tell Grandpa.


Black Forest Pudding

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 cups whipped cream (or one small package of prepared whipped cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • Pecans, chocolate chips for topping

Mix together the pecans, flour and melted butter.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  If you like a thicker crust, use an 8×8 pan – for a thinner crust, go with a 9×13 pan.  Press the dough onto the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then cool the crust completely.

img_9470.jpg

Blend together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, 1 cup whipped cream and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the puddings and milk.

Now, it’s all about the layering.  Top the cooled crust with the cream cheese mixture.  Spread the pudding mixture on top of that.  Cover with the remaining whipped cream.  When spreading the whipped cream, be careful not to push the cream too hard into the pudding or it will start to streak a bit.

I always like to decorate the tops of desserts like this with a hint as to what is inside – it’ll save you from having to warn eaters about nuts, chocolate, or other potential allergy items.  I sprinkle the top of the Black Forest Pudding with mini chocolate chips and a few pecan pieces.

IMG_9487

Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Try it out – cherries or no, this is an easy dessert for family, friends and Grandpas all over.

IMG_9568


Full Recipe

Black Forest Pudding

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 cups whipped cream (or one small package of prepared whipped cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • Pecans, chocolate chips for topping

 

Mix together the pecans, flour and melted butter.

Spray baking dish (8×8 for thick crust, 9×13 for thinner crust) with cooking spray.

Press into baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Cool completely.

Blend together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup whipped cream.

Spread on top of cooled crust.

Mix together the puddings and milk.

Spread on top of cream cheese mixture.

Top with remaining whipped cream.

Sprinkle pecans, chocolate chips on top of dessert.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.