CHOCOLATE BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIES

My baking crusade continued, working to try and find more ways to use up the bag of butterscotch chips that I had bought when prepping for the monster cookies that I had made a little while back. I’m not sure if my baking ideas just started to naturally progress towards brownies, since I had already done cookies, cornbread, and a banana bread during that span. It’s also very true that I hadn’t made brownies in quite some time, so I think multiple factors were pulling me in this direction.

With a nice balance of sweet flavors from the chocolate chips, M&M’s, and butterscotch chips, these decadent brownies will disappear from any storage container before you know it.

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Chocolate Butterscotch Brownies
Makes 24 – 26 squares

~ 1 cup butter
~ 1-1/2 cups white sugar
~ 1 cup brown sugar
~ 1 tbsp vanilla extract
~ 4 eggs
~ 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1 tsp baking soda
~ 1 tsp salt
~ 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
~ 1/3 cup butterscotch chips
~ 3 tbsp mini M&M’s

Mixing:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish to use as your baking pan.
  • I wanted to emphasize the use of a casserole dish instead of a normal 8″ x 8″ baking dish (which is what I’m used to making brownies in). If you go with the smaller dish, the brownies might end up way too tall and not bake properly.
  • There’s two ways to approach using the casserole dish: either lightly grease up the inside or use parchment paper as a barrier. I opted for the parchment paper, since that would significantly reduce the clean-up effort.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, using a whisk to ensure everything is distributed evenly. Set that dry mixture aside when complete.
  • In another bowl, combine your white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Throw the butter into the microwave and soften it before adding it into the sugar mixture, creaming together well.
  • Beat the eggs into your sugar mixture one at a time until everything is well blended.
  • Gradually stir your dry mixture into the sugar mixture until everything starts to reach a batter-like consistency. Mine ended up turning out pretty thick, so you might need to put some elbow grease into it.
  • Stir in your chocolate chips and butterscotch chips until they are well distributed into the batter. Spread your batter evenly across the casserole dish before sprinkling your mini M&M’s on the top.

Baking:

  • Put the brownies into the oven for approximately 40 – 42 minutes. Because the baking medium is glass, it will transfer heat differently than if you had just a regular metal pan. That’s why there could be a little more uncertainty of the final baking time for the brownies, but 40 minutes was just about the right spot for me.

Cooling:

  • Once time is up and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean (some of the melted chocolate chips could get on there), remove the dish from the oven and let cool on the stovetop for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the brownies over to a wire rack to continue the cooling process. Here’s where you’ll have to restrain from cutting the brownies into squares too quickly; if the brownies are still too hot in the middle, they’ll be more of a batter consistency rather than the cake consistency you want. I think I let the brownies sit for 25 – 30 minutes before attempting to move them to the cutting board.
  • I put my individual squares onto the wire rack for an additional 15 minutes after that to let them fully cool down.

One of the downsides of using the parchment paper method with the casserole dish is that you won’t get those nice, even edges on the outside of the brownie squares. As you can also see from the photos, the final brownie squares might not be as picturesque as those you might buy from the store, but it’s the taste that counts. And these brownies deliver.

With a light, crisp shell on the top and moist, cake-like consistency in the middle, the brownies aren’t overbearingly sweet. It’s a balanced chocolate flavor (between the chocolate chips and M&M’s) with the occasional butterscotch flavor showing up as well. The brownies aren’t too rich either, but two squares was usually enough to tide me over for a little while. Give these brownies a try and I’m sure that your sweet tooth will be sure to thank you.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

With the rapid arrival of the fall season, I decided that it was time to break out a hit recipe from last year: the pumpkin cheesecake brownies. Mixing together two decadent desserts with a seasonal twist, these brownies provide a nice balance between chocolate and pumpkin flavors (and also save from having to make you choose which dessert to eat).

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

Brownie Batter:
~ 1/2 cup unsalted butter
~ 1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate chips
~ 1 cup brown sugar
~ 2 tsp vanilla extract
~ 1/4 tsp salt
~ 2 eggs
~ 2/3 cup flour

Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter:
~ 1/4 package (2 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
~ 1-1/2 tbsp sugar
~ 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
~ 1/2 egg
~ 1/4 tsp vanilla
~ 1 tbsp flour
~ 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
~ 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
~ 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Prep Work:

  • Take your butter and cut it up into pats in order to help quicken the melting process.
  • Measure out the rest of your ingredients into containers to make for easy mixing later on.
  • Take out an 8″ x 10″ baking pan and coat the inside with butter or non-stick spray, especially on the bottom. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stovetop:

  • In a medium saucepan, melt down the butter on medium-low heat. Once that finishes, then add in your chocolate chips and melt those down as well, stirring constantly.
  • Get the mixture so that it’s melted all the way through and not lumpy with partially melted chocolate chips. Remove from heat and scrape into a medium mixing bowl when finished.

Countertop:

  • With the chocolate melted down, the first part for the brownie base is done. While the mixture is still warm, stir in your brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until well combined.
  • Beat the egg into the mixture one at a time and then add the flour, mixing until the flour is just barely combined to form the batter. Set that aside.
  • In another mixing bowl, throw together the cream cheese and sugar, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in your pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla, beating together until smooth.
  • Add in your spices and combine before mixing in the flour. With that all done, you’re now ready to add the two batters together.
  • In your baking pan, pour in half of your brownie batter. Now, this next technique is key to making these brownies work: we’re going to alternate spoonfuls of pumpkin cheesecake and brownie batter until they run out.
  • (Side note: I tried it where I lumped all the pumpkin cheesecake on top of the brownie batter and it didn’t get the effect I had hoped for.)
  • When alternating your spoonfuls of batter, be sure to overlap your brownie scoops a little on top of the pumpkin cheesecake so the cheesecake isn’t too exposed.
  • Once the batter is in the baking pan, take a knife and run a tight zig-zag pattern inside the pan, creating that swirl effect and distributing out the cheesecake filling.

Oven:

  • Throw the brownies into the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, enough so that the outside is baked firm but the center still seems a bit half-baked and wobbly.
  • Let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before transferring it over to a wire rack to fully cool. Cut your brownies down into the size you see fit.

The brownie itself is definitely more cake-y in nature, but with the cheesecake filling, it balances that out well. As a dessert, these brownies pair very well with coffee (my friend ate one with his pumpkin spice latte and he said it was the perfect fall seasonal moment).

Be warned, though: while cutting up the brownies, sampling one could turn into two, which could turn into many before you know it! Be sure to save some to enjoy later!

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

I’ve recently been noticing a trend where chocolate desserts have been starting to incorporate some elements of spice into them to turn up the heat in something normally sweet. I personally had never tried it (I see the spicy chocolate bars in the supermarkets from time to time) but it was something that piqued my curiosity.

In an attempt to experiment with the idea, I decided to throw the twist into a traditional chocolaty classic: brownies. After doing a bit of research and to my surprise, that line of thinking is already established in making Mexican-style brownies.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies
Makes 16 – 20 squares

~ 3/4 cup unsalted butter
~ 1-1/2 cups white sugar
~ 3 eggs
~ 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
~ 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1-1/4 tsp cinnamon
~ 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
~ 1/4 tsp salt
~ 1/4 tsp baking soda
~ 3/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
~ 3/8 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Prep Work:

  • I’ve found in my prep work (baking especially) that measuring out all the dry ingredients ahead of time really cuts down on a lot of the stress later on. You don’t have to fumble around for the measuring utensils when combining ingredients together; you just sequentially pour the next item in as the recipe calls for it. Liquids are what I would measure out right before I need to pour it in (for this recipe, that only ingredient was the vanilla extract). My third photo above showcases all of the dry ingredients measured out.
  • For baking these brownies, I used an 8″ x 8″ baking pan lined with aluminum foil, so the baking time and temperature were based on the results I got with those. Spray down your aluminum foil with some nonstick spray or wipe it down with some cooking oil. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Countertop:

  • In a bowl, soften the butter in the microwave, but don’t go so far as to liquefy it. Pour that into a large mixing bowl and then combine that together with the sugar. After that is well mixed up, add in one egg at a time and combine. Measure out the vanilla extract and stir that in as well.
  • With the base mix going, add in the cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing until all of it is dispersed well.
  • At this stage, stir the chocolate chunks and chopped nuts into the brownie batter. Pour this into the baking pan and spread it out so that it is level in the pan.

Oven:

  • Bake your brownies uncovered for approximately 45 – 50 minutes. Use a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies as a test to see if they are done (look for the crumbs on the toothpick). I did multiple tests since I occasionally stuck the toothpick right into a melted chocolate chunk.
  • Once the brownies are out of the oven, let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring it to a plate or a wire rack to finish cooling for another 20 minutes. Cut up the brownie wedge into chunks as you see fit.

The brownies themselves were very good after coming out of the oven. They were moist, tasty, and weren’t overpoweringly rich in chocolate flavor. However, it was only after they cooled off the next morning that I thought you were able to fully distinguish what the two spices added to the brownie’s flavor profile. The cinnamon adds a slightly different taste to mix in with the chocolate while the cayenne pepper brings a slight bit of heat that kicks in at the end.

It’s definitely different than your ordinary brownies, but still retains that core chocolate flavor that you’ve come to expect from brownies. I brought 12 squares into work today and they were all gone by the time the end of the work day rolled around!