If you like lemon bars, I think you’ll love this variation of my Meyer Lemon-Mascarpone Bars, which substitutes passion fruit juice for lemon juice. Like lemon bars, these Passion Fruit Bars have a thick, buttery shortbread crust and luscious ooey, gooey filling, but with the distinct, floral flavor and aroma of passion fruit. The sharp tartness of the passion fruit is nicely balanced by the sweetness of the sugar and the richness of the creamy mascarpone. The glaze adds a touch more sweet-tart flavor and a little crunch from the passion fruit seeds.
I prefer moist, fudgy brownies and this recipe is my new favorite! Three types of chocolates are used in these decadent brownies — cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chips in the brownie batter . . . dark chocolate in the ganache. Dried cherries are added to give the brownies a tart and fruity taste. Port (a Portuguese fortified wine) is used to macerate the dried cherries and to boost the flavor of the ganache topping. Serve the brownie with a scoop of ice cream for the ultimate indulgence.
Rhubarb is a hardy, frost resistant crop that is similar in appearance to celery, except for its red or pink color. Its fleshy and, sometimes, stringy stalks are the edible part, while the leaves are not eaten because they contain large amounts of oxalic acid, a stomach irritant, which can be toxic. When purchasing rhubarb, look for crisp, glossy stalks; the more intense the color, the sweeter they will be. Rhubarb has a strong tart and bright flavor, and is best cooked with sugar as a compote, chutney or pie filling.
Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification, and love.
― Karl Petzke and Sara Slavin
Today is my husband’s birthday, and to mark the occasion, I chose to bake something chocolatey. I came across this recipe that I knew he would love, so move over birthday cake, and make room for birthday brownies! I wanted to bake a special treat and these certainly are!! These made-from-scratch brownies are utterly decadent, intensely rich and dense and are best eaten with a glass of ice-cold milk. I added a little bit of ground cinnamon since I know Chris loves a touch of it with chocolate. Continue reading
Aren’t these Santa Hat Brownies just so cute? Thanks to Erica’s Sweet Tooth for the inspiration. I was looking for a fun and simple holiday treat and I ran across a recipe on her website. They’re so good and easy to make, especially since I bought Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake brownie mix (just pour the ready-made brownie batter in an 8-X 8-inch pan and bake for 22-25 minutes). You can use ready-made brownie bites or bake a pan of your favorite brownies. I whipped up some vanilla-mascarpone buttercream to simulate the white trim on the hats. Voila! A festive dessert to get everyone into the spirit of the holidays. It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!
Update: November 17, 2013
This year, I plan to bake these Santa Hat Brownies and other holiday treats to give as gifts to friends and co-workers. Since I will be making homemade gifts, I thought it would be a great idea to make the gift tags too. I want to make recipe cards so I can easily share the recipe and it could double as the gift tag as well. The card below is the one I designed for the Santa Hat Brownies using Picmonkey, an online photo editing tool. Pretty neat, huh? I love Picmonkey and already use it to add text and overlays to the photos on this blog. For my recipe cards/gift tags, I am going to print the photo of the food on one side and the recipe on the other. This is going to be a real fun project!
Note: I have been paying for Picmonkey’s monthly Royale Plan for the past year. Picmonkey provided me with a free month’s membership ($4.99 value) to use them to make these recipe cards. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own. (Product Review Disclaimer).
Santa Hat Brownies
Yields 12-16 brownies
1 pan of your favorite brownies, cooled and cut into desired size and shape (I used a round cutter)
12-16 small strawberries, cleaned and hulled
vanilla-mascarpone buttercream (recipe below)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and mascarpone cheese until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and salt. Add 2-1/2 cups of sugar, half a cup at a time and continue beating until smooth. Add more sugar, if needed to reach desired consistency and sweetness.
To assemble, pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream on top of each brownie. Cut off the base of a strawberry so it is flat and place it upside down on each brownie, pushing slightly to secure in place. Top the tip of the strawberry with a dot of buttercream to finish the santa hat.
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I am huge fan of the Meyer lemon. I prefer to use it whenever possible instead of the regular lemon because it is slightly sweeter, without the acidic flavor. I have a prolific dwarf Meyer lemon tree in a container in my garden that produces about 60-70 lemons twice a year. I share some with friends, but I juice most of them and store the juice in 1- or 2-cup portions in freezer bags. Depending on the amount a recipe calls for, I defrost a smaller or bigger bag. I am spoiled having Meyer lemon juice all year long, since I can make these anytime the mood strikes me. Continue reading
I need basic recipes like this 4 Ingredients Nutella Brownies in my repertoire. This treat is perfect for those times when pretty good is good enough and I don’t have the inclination to spend a lot of time prepping, baking, and cleaning up. (Sometimes it’s nice not to haul out the Kitchenaid mixer!) I just want to get in and get out of the kitchen, but also satisfy an unexpected guest or persistent craving for something sweet. Cookbook author, Abby Dodge, has written many more of these quick and easy recipes in her book, Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Just 4 Ingredients. The concept of this book is pure genius because the recipes are simple, versatile, and inspires creativity. In each recipe, Dodge includes numerous suggestions for substitutes when you don’t have an ingredient or don’t care for it and for ways to “gussy it up” to make it fancier. Since one of my favorite flavor combinations is hazelnuts and orange, I followed this recipe, but added 2 more ingredients – Cointreau and orange zest. From start to finish, it took about 20 minutes before I had this flavorful dessert with just
4 6 ingredients. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting 10 minutes for the brownie bites to bake. Continue reading