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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Best Oreo Stuffed Brownies

Brownies with Oreos baked right in the middle have been floating around the internet for a while now.  Being huge fans of both, I'm not sure why I haven't got around to making them until now.  It is a genius idea to bake something delicious in the middle of something else delicious.  Plus, it's such a terrific and easy way to jazz up a boxed mix or your favorite from scratch brownie recipe to surprise your taste testers.  

I used a new-to-me brownie recipe: Best Cocoa Brownies.  The recipe on Epicurious says "Cocoa brownies have the softest center and chewiest candylike top 'crust'".  I'd have to agree.  They were super fudgey, soft and moist but still had that slight crisp to the top.  I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder for a super chocolatey taste.  

Best Oreo Stuffed Cocoa Brownies adapted from Epicurious
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Hershey's special dark cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
16 double stuf oreos

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with square pre-cut parchment paper.
Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in the top of a double boiler with the water beneath barely simmering. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is mixed. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer. Spread half of the batter in the lined pan.  Arrange oreos in a single layer on top of the batter.  Pour the remaining brownie batter on top of the oreos and spread to cover them.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.

Speaking of amazing, did you see the wooden bowl my oreo brownies are styled in?  One of many things I love about doing local craft shows for The Smart Baker is getting to meet other entrepreneurs.  At our most recent show in October, our booth was next to that of a wood turner, Berkshire Bowls. His Etsy site says, "At Berkshire Bowls we try to make all of our pieces from material that was brought down by natural causes. Each time there is a wind storm, ice storm or other means, I am looking for the material for our next piece".  So they're not just beautiful, they're very green, too.  He boasts such a wide range of products such as pens, boxes, puzzles, bowls of all shapes and sizes.  I just couldn't resist this adorable little bowl.  We're currently working with Scott, the owner, on some very "smart" kitchen items.  I can't wait to share them with you!

Check out Berkshire Bowls' website for more information.  I bet there's a bowl or two that you won't be able to resist either.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Glass Cleaner Foaming Spray

I started off this post by writing about how I love to bake, but that my domesticity doesn't extend into the realm of cleaning.  But really, does anyone like to clean?  Does anyone enjoy cleaning counter tops of grime, eliminating streaks and water spots from bathroom mirrors, or wiping away dirt?  I'd be willing to guess that most people do not find joy in these household chores.  

Recently, Stanley Home Products gave me the opportunity to try out their Glass Cleaner Foaming Spray.  Out of all the rooms to clean, the bathroom is probably my least favorite.    Since this cleaner stuff claims to be non-streaking, fast-drying, water-repeling and grime-guarding, why not give it a try?  

I used it on the bathroom counters first.  A quick spray on the counters, an easy wipe with paper towel, and the counter surface was spotless.  It worked on the mirrors too, and left no streaks.  The foam must do all the hard work, because all I needed to do was gently wipe away the foam and the dirt went with it.  Overall, it made the pretty un-fun task of cleaning the bathroom quicker and easier and I'll definitely be using it again.  You can purchase it online for $6.49 at Stanley Home Products.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Club: BAKED - Caramel Apple Monster Cake

On Sunday we celebrated Halloween with the family.  I saw this Monster cake and really wanted to make it, so when I saw we were baking the Caramel Apple Cake with Club Baked, I thought how perfect!  I'd turn the Caramel Apple Cake into this furry little monster.  

I don't have 3 round cake pans, so I made 2 nine-inch cakes, and split each into two - creating a four layer cake.  Also, I cheated with the frosting.  I saw mixed reviews of the frosting recipe on the Club Baked P&Q page, so, being short on time (I made lots of cake balls and puff pastry intestines, too... pictures to come soon), I decided to make a shortcut and just whipped up a batch of my favorite buttercream frosting - adding 1/3 cup of store bought caramel topping for ice cream.  

First we crumb-coated.  Then we (I say WE because the husband did all of the fur piping! I should really say "HE!")  used a grass tip (flat tip with several small holes in it) to pipe the orange fur in concentric rings.  His mouth is black licorice, and his teeth are made of Candy Quik that I piped into triangles on parchment, and then let harden before transferring to the monster.  
His eye balls are devil's food cake pops dipped in vanilla candy quik.  The orange bit is a Candy Melt wafer with black food coloring gel painted on with a paint brush, and a dab of Candy Quik for the little while shine.  We painted the veins on with red food coloring gel and a paintbrush.  It was time consuming, but fun!

As for the cake, everyone who tried it loved it.  My nephew had two bowls full!  What wasn't eaten at family dinner was thoroughly enjoyed at work the next day.  

Thanks for Melissa of Lulu the Baker for selecting this recipe and hosting this week!  What a great pick for this time of year, such a nice Fall spicey cake. Be sure to visit Club Baked and check out how the other Club Baked bakers did with this Caramel Apple Cake.


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