S’more brownies

S’mores. I love chocolate and a gooey marshmallow stuffed between two graham crackers – not to mention just about any dessert that incorporates this combination.

Brownies? Woe to the pan of brownies that comes across my path…

S’mores and ( or should I say in? ) brownies? I’m in!

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Last week, knowing about a jar of unused marshmallow crème sitting in a cabinet, I decided to look for a brownie recipe that used this. To be more specific, I was looking for a brownie with a layer of marshmallow crème inside. So you can imagine my disappointment and being somewhat surprised to not find such a recipe ( unless there’s one out there that I am missing ). However during my search I did come across a few recipes for s’more brownies. So, as one search led to another, the way searches always do, I found some delicious looking (s’more) brownie recipes. Unfortunately though, I didn’t have this or that ingredient for some of the recipes I was interested in. But all was not lost, remembering that jar of marshmallow crème sitting in the cabinet and some leftover graham cracker crumbs that I had used for my Valentine’s Day dessert, I left the internet to go make my own idea of a s’more brownie.

Next came the hard part: deciding whether to use the marshmallow crème ( I know, you’re thinking that after mentioning it that many times how could I not use it, right? ) or to just top them with some marshmallows for more of a s’more effect. Finally, after much debate, I decided to go with the marshmallows. Now, before I had reached my decision on the marshmallow aspect, while looking in the cabinet to get the jar of marshmallow crème I did not use, I came across an unopened jar of hot fudge topping – it’s amazing what hides itself in the cabinet, is it not? – and had a moment of inspiration. I thought, why not add a fudge swirl in the brownies for the melted chocolate effect? I liked where this was heading. So the next thing was to stop debating and discovering lost items in the cabinet and start baking!IMG_2294

Here are the results in a nutshell. ( I ended up trying two variations – not mention the few slight variations on the second variation. Right now I am one large walking brownie… )

The first: Graham cracker crust, brownie, fudge swirl, and toasted marshmallow topping.
Result: An okay brownie with a crust that crumbled, and a sticky top.

The second: Graham cracker crust, brownie, fudge and marshmallow swirl.
Result: Success! A crust that better held together, a nice fudge texture with just the right amount of marshmallow – and not too sticky!

So, my friends, if you are like me and like s’mores and love brownies, or vice versa, then this is a brownie you won’t be disappointed in!

Notes:

Crust

> Why so much butter? Adding a little more butter than one might normally use when making a crust, really helps it to stick together better, and withstand the weight from the brownie batter. However you still want to be careful when distributing the batter on top of the crust.

> Egg white. I have used a recipe before that incorporates egg white into the crust mixture, so I decided to as well and all though I do not know the exact reason for doing so, it really made a nice, firmer crust.

Brownies

> Usually when a recipe calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips, I just dump in the whole bag – can you tell I am a total chocolate lover? So if you are like me and tend to do the same, you actually don’t want to with this recipe. With the hot fudge in there it really makes up for it – plus, it can be hard enough to tell when they are done as it is!

> Try to spread the batter around as gently as you can ( you can’t be in a hurry :)) so as not to upset the crust. If you don’t, the crust will come up with the batter and you will probably end up with graham cracker crumbs in the brownies – although if that’s what you want, it might not be too bad… let me know!

> I used two different types of butter knifes and a small offset spatula for spreading the batter. I personally think the spatula is the better choice, but if you don’t have one, no worries, the knives worked just as well, the spatula just made it a little easier.

I inserted this to show how I dropped the marshmallow ( the same for the hot fudge ) creme on top of the brownie batter.

I inserted this to show how I dropped the marshmallow ( the same for the hot fudge ) creme on top of the brownie batter.

Marshmallow & Fudge swirl

> The only thing to really note on this step is that you really want to be careful – again – when swirling so the knife ( or whatever you use ) doesn’t go through to the crust.

Baking

> My oven is weird, plain and simple. So you might have to full around a little bit with baking temperatures, but since I think the problems I had with baking times lay with the oven ( it cooks at a hotter temperature than it is supposed to ) I think you will be fine at 350° f. Depending on your oven, just start with 30 minutes and go from there. But if you do have a problem with baking, just leave me a comment so I can try to help you. The last variation I did on these, I baked them for 33 ( I know, why the odd number? As I said before, my oven is weird and fickle ) minutes. When I tested them, they weren’t quite done, so I lowered the temp. to 325° f. and baked them for 8 more minutes, which did the job.

Overall

> This is a dense brownie. Due to the hot fudge topping it is also a very moist brownie. In fact so much so, that it will probably never seem fully baked. But again, this is just the affect of the hot fudge inside. If it seems to complicated to add the hot fudge sauce and you are not keen on the underdone fudge effect, then just omit it and add ( or don’t ) the whole bag of chocolate chips – it will be a good brownie either way!

Again, if you have any questions concerning this recipe, leave a comment below and I will try to answer any questions you might have. Also, as I am still experimenting with this recipe, let me know if you did any thing different – or even if you didn’t – and how they turned out, I would love to hear some feedback!

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Cottura Felice!

S’more Brownies

Ingredients
For the crust
2 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C. ( 1 stick ) butter
1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the brownies
1 C. ( 2 sticks ) butter, melted
3 C. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 C. all – purpose flour
1 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
Hot fudge topping ( about 6 tbsp. )
Marshmallow creme ( about 6 tbsp. )

Instructions

For the crust
Preheat the oven to 325° f. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with butter.

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and butter. Add the beaten egg white.
Press mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the brownie batter.

Remove the crust from the oven and increase the heat to 350° f.

For the brownies
In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Using a whisk ( or mixer ), add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Gradually, using a spatula, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture using a little bit of a folding motion until thoroughly combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter on top of the crust and, using a small offset spatula or butter knife, gently ( so as not to disturb the crust ) spread until evenly distributed.

Next, using no more than 6 tbsp. total, drop the fudge by tablespoonfuls evenly on top of the batter. Then, using a knife, swirl until just lightly incorporated. Repeat with the marshmallow creme.

Bake until moist crumbs stick to a toothpick when inserted, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Let cool before cutting and serving.

Brownies adapted from Brookes Best Bombshell Brownies

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Music for snow

Chapel in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Chapel in Williamstown, Massachusetts

December Moon

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

– Mary Sarton

During a rare snowfall last week, my brother and I started talking about music that we thought fit the mood of the weather. Here is one particular piece that came to mind – and I think fitting.  Enjoy!

Sergei Rachmaninov: Prelude Op. 23 No. 1 in F sharp Minor – Nikolai Lugansky, piano

Photograph © Hunter Starnes 

 

Hello and a post Christmas snack

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe - Joe's from Trader Joes

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe – Joe’s from Trader Joes

Dear reader,

Hello and welcome to Sempre Dolce, my haven of food and musical thoughts!

To learn more about Sempre Dolce, please visit the ” about ” page here.

I know Christmas was little while ago now, but I made this delicious dessert with some leftover Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe – Joe’s and I had to share it with you.

A few weeks ago I took it upon myself to help rid my family of some leftover Christmas goodies sitting around our house by making ( get ready, this a long title… ) Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe – Joe Cheesecake Bites ( whew, that took a lot out of me! ). I got the idea from making these Reeses Stuffed Mini Cheesecakess from The Table. They were so amazing, the only thing I did differently was I added a ganache topping which made them even more delicious. After having made those, and seeing how many leftover boxes of peppermint Joe – Joe’s that we still had, I just had to try making it this way. It worked! In fact so much so, that I had to share it with you – plus, it’s the first recipe that I have changed so drastically ( can you tell I’m proud of myself?).
Before I go on, two things I want to mention: 1. I am posting the original recipe from table.io – I’m sorry but I did not get any pictures when I made the Reeses ones, just the peppermint, so I apologize for that. 2. If you are not feeling too adventurous ( because that is what you would have to be feeling in order to try these… ) I would highly recommend just making the original recipe – you won’t be disappointed. ( but between you and me, add the ganache! )

Here is the original recipe

Ingredients

For the Crust:
1 cup graham crackers, finely crumbled
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup half & half
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 Reese’s peanut butter cups, whole

Instructions
1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the graham crackers and melted butter with a spoon. Place muffin liners into each cup and add about 1-2 teaspoons of the crumbled graham crackers to the bottom of each cup. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.
2.While the crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 2 packages of softened cream cheese with the peanut butter and sugar with the flat beater attachment. Mix well. Add the flour, half & half, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Finally, add the eggs and stir with a spatula until incorporated.
3.After the graham cracker crusts have been removed from the oven, lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Place a whole Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into the muffin tin with the prepared graham cracker crusts. Then fill the cups almost to the top with the cheesecake batter. Bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven. To test the doneness, gently shake the pan. The center should barely jiggle when done.
4.Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecakes to slowly cool (this will help prevent the cheesecakes from cracking). Open the oven door a few inches to allow the heat to escape. Once the cheesecakes are near room temperature, place them into the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours.

If you want to do it Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe – Joe style, here is what you have to do :

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe - Joe Cheesecake Bite

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe – Joe Cheesecake Bite

> Substitute the graham crust for a chocolate one using either chocolate wafers ( I didn’t try wafers so I don’t know how it would turn out ) or Oreos, Joe – Joes, etc. Other than adding a little more butter, once you have substituted the cookie, I used the same measurements and instructions from the original recipe.

> Omit ( this is very important ) the peanut butter in the cheesecake batter.

> Substitute ( VERY important! ) – if you have any, if not, plain would work just as well – Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe – Joes for the peanut butter cups.

Notes

> I made these in muffin cups, but since Chocolate Covered Joe – Joe’s are a bit large due to being covered in chocolate, I might recommend using small spring form pans instead.

> If you make these in muffin cups, there unfortunately isn’t much room for a crust so just put a thin layer of the crust mixture on the bottom of each muffin cup.

> Please note, that if using chocolate covered peppermint JJ’s they will poke out a little, but it should be okay since you will be putting ganache on top ( ganache covers a multitude of flaws ) .

> When filling the muffin cups with batter, I would recommend filling each cup 1/3 full, put in a Joe – Joe, then fill remaining 2/3 ( which again will be a little difficult due to the cookies poking out ).

> After the cheesecakes have cooled for a little while ( maybe 30 minutes ) add the ganache.
Here is Alton Brown’s ganache recipe.

Now, go make these – you won’t regret it!

Cottura felice!

p.s. Please pardon lack of photography, and the quality of the photographs and any other messes around here – my brother is still trying to get more well acquainted with the art of food photography and I, the art of blogging!