Mint Cheesecake Brownies for your BOTW

 

 

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In the dull, hot (and here in Texas, I do meant hot) months of Summer, one is always looking for something refreshing; whether it be an ice cold glass of lemonade, a snow cone, some ice cream or gelato – whichever it is I am always ready for that cold and refreshing something to go down my parched throat. Aren’t you?

Now, something that isn’t a drink or necessarily cold but still refreshing to me, is the flavor of mint. Mint ice cream, gelato, you name it – when it’s flavored right and not overkill, there is not much that involves mint that I don’t like.

A month or two ago when at the store with my mom, we were excited (we get excited over little things like this) to find that they were carrying Hershey’s Mint Chocolate Chips. Being as to how they don’t carry them at the store where we usually do our grocery shopping we decided to grab a couple of bags. I was excited to see what I would use them for but for whatever reason they ended up sitting in the cabinet for awhile.

Last week however, when going through brownie ideas I decided to make cheesecake brownies and then for whatever reason, I decided to use the mint chocolate chips in the brownie layer. Now when combining recipes and experimenting, one never knows how things are going to turn out, but these turned out pretty good – actually, like r.e.a.l.l.y. g.o.o.d., let me tell you a little about them.

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The way these brownies are constructed is a mint chocolate chip brownie layer on the bottom, a cheesecake layer in the middle, chocolate ganache on top, and a mint white chocolate drizzle to finish it off.

For the brownie layer, I used a new recipe (one of the two you will be seeing the most in my brownie creations) which worked very well for this combination. And for the cheesecake layer, I used this recipe from Handle the Heat. The ganache on top is Alton Brown’s, which is my favorite recipe to use and well, for a white chocolate drizzle…who needs a recipe?

I am so excited to share this recipe with you!!  If you are a fellow mint lover you are going to love these,  however if you don’t love mint there’s still hope, as my brother who is not quite so crazy about mint (to say the least), after trying them said to me,” These aren’t bad….”  – which, coming from him, says a lot….

The lowdown:

These mint brownies are a luscious combination of mint chocolate brownie, cheesecake, ganache, and white chocolate – could you really get any better?

Cottura felice!

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Mint Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies:

1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces

1 1/4 C. granulated sugar

3/4 C.unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/3 C. all-purpose flour

3/4 C. mint chocolate chips

For the cheesecake layer:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

½ C. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

For the ganache:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (good quality chocolate chips work well)

1 C. heavy cream (heavy whipping cream may be substituted)

For the mint white chocolate drizzle (optional):

2 ounces white chocolate

1/8 tsp. mint extract (less if you want less mint flavor)

Green Gel Food Coloring

Directions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with foil. Press foil firmly into the pan and leave a 2 inch overhang. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

With a steady stream, pour butter into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to combine.

Mix in vanilla. Next, add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition.

Stir in flour and mix just until combined (do not overmix).

Stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until just starting to set but not fully baked.

Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge until ready to use.

While brownies are cooling, make cheesecake layer.

For the cheesecake layer:

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined and smooth.

Beat in the eggs, flour, and salt until just incorporated.

Pour cheesecake batter over the brownie layer and bake at 325° F. for 50 minutes or until the cheesecake is set.

Remove from oven and while cooling, make the ganache.

For the ganache:

Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

Heat the cream in a small microwavable bowl for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until it is just beginning to simmer; make sure not to allow the cream to boil over.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes.

Whisk together until mixture is smooth.

Pour over the brownie/cheesecake and spread evenly.

Cool brownie/cheesecake to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator at least 2 hours to chill.

Before serving, make the white chocolate drizzle (if using):

For the white chocolate drizzle:

Melt chocolate in a small saucepan until smooth – be sure not to overheat!

Add in mint extract and stir until combined.

Add in, a little at a time, food coloring stirring after each addition until you reach desired color.

Snip off a very small  portion off the corner of a small zip top bag and place chocolate inside.

Drizzle over brownies.

Store leftover brownies in the fridge.

Brownie recipe from Epicurious, Cheesecake recipe from Handle the Heat, and the ganache recipe is Alton Brown’s Ganache  Frosting Recipe. 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

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I think I have got to be the only person in the world where due to my gift at being unorganized (stop laughing…), blogging is a full time job… when it shouldn’t be. When you have 50 gazillion readers I get that, but when you don’t? Please console me and tell me I’m not the only one, please??

I think I need cookies…

Speaking of cookies, chocolate truffle cookies sound pretty good, don’t they?

I thought they sounded good too when I came across the recipe in one our family recipe bags, but I don’t think I ever imagined they would be this good. What do I mean by this good? I mean warm, chocolatey, dense, truffle like cookies that melt in your mouth. Crisp on the outside, but oh so dense and chewy on the inside! It’s like eating truffles with a crisp outer shell, or in a way, they are almost like mini flourless cakes in cookie form.

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These, my friends, are little rounds of chocolate joy

Before you read any further however, I am going to give these cookies a rating: TCL, which means you have to be a Total Chocolate Lover to make them (okay, maybe not to make them, but to enjoy them).

Now that you have been fully warned…

Making these beauties is really easy and would be quick if it weren’t for the chilling time… but oh, is it worth it!

Another thing I like about this recipe is that usually when you make cookies and chill the dough or save leftover dough in the fridge, you have to let it sit out a bit before you are able to dig in there and put the balls or whatever on the sheet to bake. But due to the consistency of this particular dough that’s not the case. You just bring it out of the fridge and make the cookies right then and there. No setting it out ahead of time, and in fact, letting it sit out for any considerable length of time probably wouldn’t be a good idea as the dough would become hard to work with (unless you had mounds of flour on your hands!).

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The lowdown:

Not far from being flourless, these Chocolate Truffle Cookies are dense and loaded with chocolate flavor. Holding true to the name, it almost is like eating truffles!

A dream for any chocolate connoisseur.

Cottura felice!

 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Ingredients

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 C. semisweet chocolate chips, divided

1/3 C. butter

1 C. granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 C. all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4. tsp. salt

confectioners’ sugar, for garnishing

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of chocolate chips, and butter. Cool for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine sugar and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add in vanilla and chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and mix until combined.

Stir in remaining 1 C. chocolate chips.

Cover and chill for 3 hours (at least).

Preheat oven to 350° f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from fridge and with lightly floured hands, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. If dough becomes to hard to work with, put it back in fridge or put it in the freezer briefly to firm up.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly puffed and set (tops may be slightly cracked).

Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

 

 

 

Easy & Inexpensive Summer Activities For Kids, part 4

A few snapshots from my July, starting from above left: flip flops, a summer staple, top right: frozen pink punch, who wouldn't want that on a hot day? Bottom left: an epic failure I made for Independence day - there may be a post about it coming soon, and bottom right: taking in a ballgame  is always a highlight!

A few snapshots from my July, starting from above left: flip flops, a summer staple, top right: frozen pink punch, who wouldn’t want that on a hot day? Bottom left: an epic failure I made for Independence Day – there may be a post about it coming soon, and bottom right: taking in a ballgame is always a highlight!

Well, August is finally upon us, and around this time every year I begin to see hope for some relief from the hot weather not too far away. Although, I really can’t complain as this year has been one of the mildest summers I think I have ever experienced. Still…

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To continue with my series of easy and inexpensive activities for kids, lets make a popcorn cake, shall we?

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This is a cake I think just about any child (and adult!) would love; popcorn, gumdrops, peanuts, and melted marshmallows; it sounds like a creation fresh out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

With minimal effort, you can have this cake ready to eat in no time – which is good, unless you happen to have/know a child with an unusual amount of patience!

Oh by the way, a big bonus is no use of the oven needed!

Enjoy!

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Notes:

~ Please do not make the mistake I did, and end up with a popcorn + kernel cake… I used the microwave kind of popcorn and wasn’t sure how I would sift out the kernels so they ended up in the cake! :/ Yeah, that’s me…no worries though, my nieces never ate the actual cake, just some of the leftover mixture which the kernels could be picked out of – but lesson learned: don’t use the microwave kind of popcorn! (and yes, I’m sure it was sheer stupidity to use it in the first place…)

 

Popcorn Cake

With a mixture of popcorn, gumdrops, and melted marshmallows, this is a sure pleaser!

Ingredients

4 quarts popped corn

1 pound small gumdrops

1/2 pound salted peanuts (totally optional, I left them out!)

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter

1/2 C. vegetable oil

1 pound marshmallows

Multi-colored sprinkles, optional

Directions

In a large bowl, combine popcorn, gumdrops and peanuts (you may have to use your hands).

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter, oil and marshmallows until marshmallows are thoroughly melted and mixture is smooth.

Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn/candy mixture. Stir (again, you may have to use your hands some) until combined.

Place in a generously (and I do mean GENEROUSLY) buttered tube/bundt pan.

Once the mixture has cooled, turn out onto a serving plate.

Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Must be prepared the same day it is served.

Serves 12