Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween Triple Fudge Brownies with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing

It's Halloween!!!!!!!!! No, wait, it's not Halloween. It's November 7, which is nothing (unless you count the first day after daylight savings time as an event worthy of mention; your call). But I've discovered that this whole blogging about real events thing doesn't always translate into "current" posts. Cuz dang, folks, cooking/photographing/editing/writing/posting is a time consuming process. Generally, I can get around this problem by fudging when events occur, but for some things (e.g., major holidays), that just doesn't work. 

Since becoming a food blogger a month ago, I've tried to check out as many other food blogs as I can. And let me tell you, there are LOTS, just oodles of food blogs out there. People will post about anything from baking dog biscuits to filling nearly empty peanut butter jars with yogurt (I read not one, but two blogs in the same day highlighting this pb jar phenomenon). Some bloggers tell you all about their lives and experiences and make you feel like you're BFFs even though you've never met (Front Burner Blog - thanks for the intro, Carrie!), and some have photographs and styling that are so breathtaking, you could just die (What Katie Ate - seriously, so good it kills me; see the cheese shop photo shoot).

I've discovered that some people can just blog and blog and blog and blog and do it everyday. They must have superpowers (or no day jobs). These super-bloggers are reading my post now saying, "Ha! What a weakling! This girl only posts once or twice a week!" But it's the best I can eek out for the time being and I'm ok with that.

So, now, one full week after Halloween (and 8 days after the party where these brownies made their debut), I'm sharing them with you.

I happen to think brownies from a box are awesome (in particular, the Ghirardelli Turtle Brownies, made in an 8 x 8 square pan so that they come out thick and gooey). I could never understand why anyone would want to make brownies from scratch, when such perfectly delectable chewy brownies could be whipped up with just an egg and some oil. But since I blog about food now, I figured I should Martha up and do some homemade brownie bites. I started at Whole Foods and bought four kinds of chocolate. I didn't use all four, but I like to be prepared. The "triple" fudge ultimately came from: 1) semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2)  bittersweet baking chocolate, and 3) unsweetened cocoa.

But the real deliciousness comes from the PB cream cheese frosting. Holy hannah, it's good.

And a sneak preview of our Halloween costume prop . . . 

Buuuut, I won't make you wait too long for the main event. :) Our costumes were inspired by my amazing arm wrestling feat from earlier this Fall. We were the DC Roller Girls:

I played the part of the "jammer" complete with helmet stars, and we crafted these snazzy t-shirts with sweet roller derby-esque names.

In total we had a six man team, but could never get our act together for a full team photo (roller derby girls are known for being all over the place and generally a little crazy . . . we were just playing our roles).

And there was even some arm wrestling:

Halloween was way fun and resulted in dancing until 4am. Sadly at that point all the brownies had been eaten.

Triple Fudge Brownies with PB Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil (divided in half)
1/2 cup boiling water
3 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/3 cups unbleached flour
1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and boiling water and mix well. Over a double boiler (or a bowl set on top of a saucepan filled an inch high with simmering water), melt the bittersweet chocolate. Stir melted chocolate into cocoa/oil/water. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and remaining 1/3 cup of oil and mix well. Mix in flour until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

Grease two muffin tins. Pour batter evenly into tins (cups should be about half full). Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. When testing the "doneness" of brownies, I will often take them out even when they seem a little raw in the middle (something I wouldn't do, for example, with cake mix). This helps avoid burned edges. Also, the general public seems to delight in underdone brownies.

PB Cream Cheese Icing (ratios adapted from
6 oz. cream cheese (easiest if room temperature)
2 tbs. butter (easiest if room temperature)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter

Blend all ingredients using an electric hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. This will work best if your cream cheese and butter are both at room temperature. If you lack the foresight for that (like me), you can microwave each for 5 seconds, then flip and microwave for another 5 seconds. You can obviously use any peanut butter you want, but all-natural PB has a very different texture that makes this frosting AAH-mazing. Smucker's make an all-natural PB, so you should be able to get it at any grocery store.

My brownies came out like craters (the tops weren't flat, more like tiny bowls). To remedy, I did a first layer of frosting to fill in the bowls and catch any crumbs, and then popped the frosted brownies in the freezer (10 or so minutes is fine). Then I did a quick second layer of room temperature frosting, which works better for the spiderwebs.

Ganache (for making spider webs)
2 tbs. heavy cream
1 oz. chocolate (I used bittersweet)

Microwave cream in a mug for 1:45-2:00 minutes (should be simmering when you remove). Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Transfer ganache into the corner of a small plastic ziplock baggie (for use as a piping bag) and snip off the very tip of the corner. Use piping bag to make three concentric circles on each brownie. Using a sharp knife, run the tip of the knife from the center of the brownie outwards through the ganache circles 8 or 9 times (see photos above). Do the knife step shortly after piping the ganache, as it will start to harden up and won't look as webby if you wait too long.

Garnish with Halloween spider rings (or, um, bats if that's all you have . . . ).

Makes 22-24 spooky brownies

1 comment:

  1. hey, you skipped the strawberry pancakes starring your favorite syrup pourer!!!! btw, i like to say ganache. rhymes with panache which you have in your food blog!


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