Tag Archives: brownie

Weekend Baking

13 Jun



It doesn’t seem like many weekends go by when I’m not baking something, quite often more than one thing.  This weekend was a case in point. I owed my brother-in-law some baking for his monthly birthday sweets instalment. Inspired partly by his love of chocolate mint and partly by the package of mini peppermint patties that had been in my cupboard for some time, I whipped up a quick batch of chocolate mint brownies. To make ‘em, follow this recipe and add a bit of peppermint extract and stir in the patties.IMG_1752

Baking project number two was a birthday cake for my dear grandma, who turned 82 yesterday (love you grandma). Appearance-wise, it’s not the best cake I’ve done, but taste-wise it was a big hit. It was a rhubarb-filled angel food cake with a tangy vanilla frosting. Super-light, but not light on taste at all. Several at the table had seconds, so that’s always a good sign, right?

Rhubarb Filled Angel Food Cake

1 package angel food cake mix, plus necessary water

3 cups chopped rhubarb

Splenda or sweetener of your choice, to tasteIMG_1732

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water

1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp Splenda

1 tsp vanillaIMG_1728

2 cups thawed fat free or light Cool Whip


1. Make angel food cake according to package directions in a tube pan. Let cool completely.

2. To make filling, bring rhubarb, Splenda and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes until rhubarb is tender and broken down. Stir in the water/cornstarch mixture, increase heat, allow filling to come to a boil and thicken. Remove from heat, cool completely.

3. To make frosting, stir together the cream cheese and yogurt with a spatula. Stir in vanilla and Splenda. Gently fold in the cool whip.

4. To assemble cake, use a serrated knife and gently cut the angel food cake into 3 layers. Spread cooled filling over the first layer. Top with second layer and spread filling over it (you will have a little extra filling). Cover top and sides of cake with icing, decorate if desired.

5. Slice cake with a serrated knife, and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Mmmmm! I love rhubarb (the filling was basically just stewed rhubarb, thickened with cornstarch) and angel food cake is always a sure bet if you want a “healthy” dessert. Feel free to make it from scratch if you want to, it’s just a bit time-consuming, and I didn’t have time to spare this weekend. And the frosting! The Cool Whip made it super fluffy, and the yogurt gave it a nice tang. It wasn’t overly sweet at all (even my mom, not an icing fan, loved it). Try this! If rhubarb isn’t in season, you could make the filling with any number of fruits.



The cake came out of the pan a bit roughly, but as I always say, icing covers a multitude of sins. Smile




There were lots of moist, delicious crumbs that clung to the pan when I turned out the cake. I didn’t let them go to waste, and I trust you won’t either (after all, there’s no fat in them, you’re practically eating air!) Winking smile



This is what the filling looks like right after you add the cornstarch, but before it’s totally thickened up.






Two layers of the cake, covered with filling, waiting for the top layer and the frosting.







The frosting’s all whipped up and ready to go!




I just love rhubarb desserts, Unfortunately. even though they contain fruit, desserts like rhubarb pies and crisps are typically pretty high in fat/calories (unless of course you make Katie’s crockpot version), and reserved for special occasions. This cake puts rhubarb back within reach for for any day! What are your favourite ways to use rhubarb?


Swirls of Serendipity

6 May


Peanut butter and chocolate…they’re BFF’s, right? A classic combo made in heaven….and totally off limits if you’re trying to eat healthy….NOT!

If you’ve been reading HHH for a while, you’ve heard me talk about Hungry Girl. You’ve seen me make HG recipes time and time again. And hopefully, you’ve subscribed to her weekly email (if not, GET ON IT)! If you are a subscriber, you saw this recipe for HG’s Nutty-Good Brownies in your inbox this week. Being the PB and chocolate lover that I am, I could NOT get it out of my mind! I knew I HAD to make them…so on Wednesday night, I did. Let me tell you, these brownies did NOT disappoint. I’ve made HG’s Cheesecake Brownies before, and these are essentially the same, but swapping the cream cheese for PB. Since they’re made with pumpkin and no fat, they tend to be more cake-y than fudgy, but they’re delicious nonetheless. And getting PB and chocolate for 160 calories for a HUGE brownie….no complaints here! I made a half batch, so all the photos you’ll see are for 1/2 the batch, FYI. Here’s the recipe:

HG’s Nutty-Good Brownies

One 18.25-oz. box moist-style devil’s food cake mix
One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
1/4 cup creamy reduced-fat peanut butter, room temperature
1 tbsp. light soymilk (plain or vanilla) or fat-free milk (whatever you have on hand)  (I made a half recipe, but found I needed the full one tbsp of milk to make the mixture a bit more spreadable)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking pan (about 9" X 13") with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix with pumpkin. Stir until completely blended. (Batter will be thick.) Spread batter into the baking pan, and smooth out the top.
In a small bowl, combine peanut butter with milk. Using a butter knife or a narrow spoon handle, stir until thoroughly mixed. Swirl the peanut butter mixture over the top of the batter with the knife or spoon handle.
Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 – 25 minutes.
Allow to cool, and then cut into 16 pieces. Enjoy!

Serving Size: 1 brownie (1/16th of recipe)IMG_0977
Calories: 160
Fat: 4g
Sodium: 293mg
Carbs: 30g
Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 15.5g
Protein: 2.5g

The reason the pumpkin in this photo looks a little funky is because it’s pumpkin that has been frozen then thawed in the microwave.






The pumpkin and cake mix (FYI, if you’re making 1/2 batch, use 2 cups of cake mix). I stuck the spatula straight up in the batter to show just how thick it is!







I microwaved the peanut butter for a few seconds, then added a bit of extra milk to make it easier to swirl.





The peanut butter on top of the brownie batter in the ban, before the swirling action has started (use an 11 x 7 pan for 1/2 recipe).






A swirling action shot…look at me go!





These brownies are baked and ready to be devoured. Try them….4 ingredients, PB and chocolate goodness, 160 calories. Pretty much a no-brainer if you ask me (unless you’re allergic to peanut butter, in which case I offer my profoundest and deepest apologies).

Do you have any baking plans/recipes you want to try in the near future? Let me know, I’m always keen for new recipe ideas!

I’m keen for these brownies

27 Mar

Quinoa Brownies

Note: in order to understand the title of this post, you have to know that the word quinoa is pronounced keen-wah. So remember all those quinoa recipes I posted last week? Well…I tried my first one: quinoa brownies! Even better? I had a snow day to bake them on! I am not thrilled that we got snow/ice at the end of March, but it gave me a day off  work to bake, so I can’t complain. Better still? My sister (also a teacher) was staying at our house, so we got to bake the brownies together.

So…here’s the recipe. It’s kind of unusual, in that you cook the quinoa, let it cool, then just throw it and all the other ingredients into a food processor and puree (see photos above)…but I’m game for anything. I made the recipe as directed, except I didn’t use the PC Organics Quinoa or Omega 3 eggs….and shockingly, the brownies still turned out (bold move using other brands, I know Winking smile ). Also, I used a 9 inch square pan, not an 8 inch, and cut the brownies into 16 smaller squares, not 9 BIG ones. And there was one final addition (you’ll see it if you look in the photo on the bottom right)…remember those cocoa nibs I bought in London? I’ve been itching to try them out, and after searching the internet and not coming up with much, I decided to go my own way…I sprinkled some on top off half of the brownies. So, what’s the verdict (on both the brownies and the nibs)?

I liked the brownies. They are SUPER-moist, and the quinoa adds just a subtle nutty flavour. The texture is not quite like regular brownies, but I don’t mind it. I gave a few to my mom’s assistant (she’s a regular reader…hi Julia Winking smile)…after visits with a naturopath, her and her son are cutting out several foods and so are looking for flour alternatives. In her son’s words the flavour was the “best of all the “alternative” brownies”…but he didn’t love the texture. I think I enjoyed these best on the day they were made, not the day after.

And the nibs? I think I will become a big fan of these things! They are not sweet at all (so if you don’t like really dark chocolate, I’m not sure these are for you), but they have a great crunch and a deep cocoa flavour. I really like the crunchy texture they gave the brownies. I think they would be good in a nice hearty oatmeal cookie with some dried fruit…will keep you posted if I try. If you look in the top right, you’ll see that the nibs and the brownies made their way into a TASTY sundae on Friday night. It started with a scoop of light vanilla ice cream, then I drizzled with sugar-free chocolate syrup, one crumbled brownie, fat-free Reddi Whip (both this and the ice cream were from my Buffalo trip) and some more nibs. Oh my goodness…SO GOOD! Again, the nibs added great crunch and a deep chocolate flavour. I can’t wait to think of more ways to use these delightful little gems. And the bag says they’re a Mayan superfood, so I can’t go wrong, right?

Have you ever tried cocoa nibs (or any other Mayan superfood)? Are you a dark or milk chocolate person?

Big Batch Brownie Bliss

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate than with homemade brownies? And these ones are so easy, you don’t even need a mix….I promise! In this post, I am going to show you how I took one brownie recipe and made it work for me in 3 ways. As much as I love being in the kitchen, I have less time for it now that I am teaching full time. So I look for ways to streamline. I took the brownie recipe below, doubled it, and used it for 3 different purposes (explanations to follow). Each brownie incarnation had a different personality and use, but all are equally delicious and fantastic. Try one (or all) for your sweetheart today (or any day)…a sweet and delicious way to show your love!

This recipe comes straight off the Hershey’s Cocoa container (you can’t buy Hershey’s cocoa in Canada though, I bought it on one of my State-side shopping trips). I love the texture and flavour of these brownies…plus they’re made in one bowl so they come together in a snap! Below is the original recipe, which makes on 9 x 13 inch pan, but for what I made, I doubled it.

Hershey’s Best Brownies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa or HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional – I generally don’t add nuts)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in nuts, if desired.

Pour batter into prepared pan (but before you do this, make sure you eat some batter…it’s FANTASTIC!….see photo if you need instruction on how to complete this step 🙂 ). Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost if desired. Cut into bars. About 36 brownies.

Now….a double batch of this brownie batter makes:

1 ) One large cookie sheet of brownies…which I cut into 30 medium to large-ish brownies. They will be a treat for my class today (shhh, it’s a surprise). I am bringing them in plain, and we will decorate them with the pink icing I made (I creamed together about 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup cream cheese, vanilla extract, icing sugar and red food colouring) and Valentine Smarties.

2) 22 mini brownie cupcakes….these were for the get-together my mom had yesterday. I made a chocolate ganache to top them…by microwaving chocolate chips (I just so happened to have some chocolate raspberry ones) with a touch of cream, then adding in a squirt of corn syrup. I dipped the cupcakes in the ganache, spread it around, then topped each one with a raspberry….so cute!

3) 4 heart shaped brownies…which I iced (with the icing above) and sandwiched to make 2 heart-shaped brownie layer cakes. These are going to two special couples I know….I topped them off with Valentine sprinkles for an easy way to complete the romantic look. 😉

And there you have it…one double batch of brownies…3 delightful and delicious desserts! Bet you didn’t think a humble dessert staple like that could do so much!

What is your planned indulgence for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate…champagne…dinner out…dinner in?

Happy World Nutella Day!

5 Feb

Happy World Nutella Day everyone! Here is the first of the treats I made: Nutella Brownies that I found on this page. I made these brownies for two 30th birthdays that are 5 months apart…allow me to explain.

My brother-in-law Tim turned 30 last September. Like me, he has an insatiable sweet tooth. So I gave him a “sweet a month” for a year. This weekend, my sister and brother-in-law’s friend Jen is turning 30. To celebrate, her husband rented a cottage in Collingwood for several couples, including Catherine (my sister) and Tim. Back in August, my sister had me over for a delicious birthday lunch. Jen happened to be over that day, and did a lot to help prepare, including picking up some absolutely gorgeous flowers (picture at left), and giving me some of her homemade fig preserves (the ones I used to make this sandwich). So I suggested to Catherine that for Tim’s bday treat this month, I combine it with Jen’s birthday as sort of a thank you for the help she was in my birthday. Cat thought it was a good idea, and given that the weekend falls on World Nutella Day, I pretty much had to go with something Nutellicious (don’t you love that new word I just made up? 😛 ).

I made this recipe as directed, except for: I *very* slightly reduced the sugar, I melted the butter in the microwave instead of over the stove, I sprinkled the brownies with chopped toasted hazelnuts before baking, and instead of simply baking in a greased pan, I baked in a greased and parchment lined pan. This is one of my FAVOURITE tricks for baking squares – it makes cutting and cooling squares so much easier. You just spray the pan with nonstick spray (essential to do this before lining with parchment paper so it has something to adhere to), line the pan with parchment paper, making sure that you have a generous overhang so you have “handles” to lift the squares out with, and then spray the paper with more nonstick spray. After the squares are baked and have cooled slightly, you can lift them out using the paper handles, and they will cool faster. They are also much easier to cut and separate, since you don’t have to worry about wedging out those pesky corner pieces and cutting all the way to the edge of the pan.

The result? Well, *technically* I didn’t eat any. Why do I say “technically”? Of course, I made sure to eat copious amounts of batter (as I’ve confessed before, it is a HUGE weakness for me – tasting as I bake). And then, of course, as I was cutting them, there are those corner pieces that don’t look quite right (I AM giving these as a gift here people) so I had to trim them up a bit, and some pieces were just too large, so I had to cut off the excess….and I couldn’t let those pieces go to waste, could I? 😉 So from the pieces I “didn’t” eat (don’t you just love my rationalizations – anyone else do “food math” like this?)  – I thought the brownies were deliciously rich and fudgy. I thought they could have stood for a bit more Nutella flavour, but I’m not complaining – they were still amazing!

Hope you are celebrating WND with some delicious treats! Another Nutella post (or 2) are coming up…including the recipe I am making for the Super Bowl Party I am co-hosting (you heard that right)…neither me or my friend who I’m hosting with are football fans…we’re just in it for the food!

Happy WND everyone…and Happy 3-0 Jen (and Tim too)! 🙂