Brownie Fix

caramel brownies side view

My caramel brownies are not the only reason TheRoomDad wanted to marry me, but the chocolatey, gooey goodness is definitely a contributing factor. This is the best Valentine’s Day sweet treat I know, and in the early years of our courtship, I baked a batch of these brownies every Valentine’s Day and some birthdays too. Until yesterday, it had been many years since I served them. My kids don’t remember ever eating them! What was I thinking?

I got the recipe from one of my mom’s friends when I was about nine years old. For years, I have been under the impression that we were a privileged few who had access to the secret. Then, I did a Google search. Damn. It is not a secret. Since my recipe (and many spin offs) are available online, I am going to go ahead and share the version I use.

caramel brownies ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 11-oz. bag light caramels, unwrapped
  • 2/3 c. evaporated milk, divided
  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 2/3 c. margarine, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (~6 oz.)

Directions

  • Combine caramels and 1/3 c. evaporated milk in a double boiler. Stir until melted and set aside.

caramel brownies melted caramel

  • In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, melted margarine, and 1/3 c. evaporated milk.

caramel brownies batter mixed

  • Press 1/2 of the dough in a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for ~6 minutes and remove from oven.

caramel brownies bottom layer

  • Sprinkle the partially baked dough with chocolate chips.

caramel brownies w choc chips

  • Spread the melted caramel over the chocolate chips and gently spread evenly with a spatula.

caramel brownies spread caramel

  • Crumple the remaining dough over the caramel layer.

caramel brownies top layer

  • Bake an additional 15-18 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Let cool and cut into squares to serve.

caramel brownies finished in pan

Notes

  • If you don’t have a double boiler to melt the caramels,  use a metal mixing bowl on the top of a pan of water as a double boiler. The caramels can also be melted with the evaporated milk in a microwave. Heat in 45 second increments stirring at the end of each time until the caramels are melted completely.

caramel brownies stack

Brownie Cups

brownie cup mint chip sundae single

I hate it when my ideas don’t work. Mr. Star Wars had his 10th birthday yesterday, and he wanted brownies with ice cream on top for his birthday dessert. This was just going to be a family dinner and celebration since we celebrated his birthday with a few friends before school started, but I still did not think that a plain old pan brownie was birthday-y enough, so I hunted down an alternative.

I had seen an idea on Pinterest for brownie cups. They seemed easy enough and upon closer inspection, they even used a boxed brownie mix, which I thought would translate into minimal time and effort.

Here is what Dreyer’s Ice Cream told me I could make:

dryers ice cream brownie bowl

 Here is what I actually made:

brownie cup separating the pans

Ingredients

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • 2 cupcake tins
  • Pam spray or Crisco
  • a little luck

brownie cup materials

Directions

  • Make the brownie mix according to the box directions. I think a fudgier brownie mix would work better than the one I used.
  • Spray with Pam or grease with Crisco the insides of a cupcake tin and across the top of the pan where the brownies will rise over the edge of the cup VERY WELL.
  • Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 full with brownie mix.

brownie cup pans

  • Spray or grease the bottom of the second cupcake tin VERY WELL and gently rest the second cupcake tin on top of the filled cupcake tin.

IMG_5540

  • Bake brownies according to the box directions. I baked my brownies about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Remove from the oven and remove the top cupcake tin. I thought it was best to remove while the brownies were still warm, but my brownies stuck to the pans, so I am not sure what to advise on this. I let them cool before lifting the cup out of the bottom cupcake tin after seeing the disaster with the top pan, but the base of the brownies completely stuck to the pan, so I ended up with brownie crumbles and broken brownie cups.

brownie cups sticking in pans

  • Take whatever brownie pieces you can salvage and put them in the bottom of a bowl.

brownie cup coffee sundae

  • Top with ice cream. Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss wanted mint chip. TheRoomDad and I had coffee ice cream. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the ice cream.

Thankfully, broken brownie cups taste just as good as perfect brownie cups. Anyone else want to give this one a try and report back? Is it my cupcake tins that are the problem?

brownie cup mint chip sundae

The Chocolate Brownie Trifle

chocolate trifle finished

A friend once told me that all good southern desserts should have a crushed up candy bar added to them. Check and check. I brought this “Chocolate Bomb” (TheRoomDad’s official name for the dessert) with Heath bar sprinkles to the Memorial Day picnic we attended yesterday. I actually have a hard time eating very much of this brownie trifle because it is sooo chocolate-y, but no one else seemed to have a problem with it.

Trifles are a layered dessert with some type of cake pieces, pudding/cream filling, and another item like fruit (or candy) pieces in a footed glass dish. They are easy to assemble and must be made ahead of time, so the flavors and ingredients will meld. I think they make a great recipe choice for large groups.

chocolate trifle ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes brownie mix (I use Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix)
  • 16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mixes
  • 4 c. milk
  • 6 (1.4 oz.) Heath candy bars, frozen
  • trifle dish (or other glass serving dish with tall sides)

Directions

  • Bake brownies according to the directions on the box for a double recipe. The Betty Crocker double batch bakes in a 15″ x 10″ pan. After the brownies cool completely, cut or break apart into large pieces. You will crumble the large pieces into bite size pieces as you layer into the trifle dish.

chocolate trifle brownie pieces

  • Pour the dry pudding mixes in a large bowl and add 4 c. milk (this is less milk than what the recipe on the box will indicate). Using a whisk, mix the pudding until smooth.
  • While the Heath bars are still in their wrapper, hit them on the counter to break apart. If they are frozen, they break apart more easily. After the candy bars are crumbled, open the wrapper.
  • In the trifle dish, create a bottom layer of bite sized brownie pieces. You can break the brownie into small pieces using your hands or cut into little pieces with a knife.

chocolate trifle layer 1

  • Spread a layer of chocolate pudding on the brownie pieces.

chocolate trifle layer 2

  • Spread a layer of Cool Whip on the pudding layer.

chocolate trifle layer 3

  • Sprinkle Heath bar pieces on the Cool Whip.

chocolate trifle layer 4

  • Repeat the layers ending with Heath bar sprinkles.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours before serving.

chocolate trifle bite

Notes

  • One box of brownie mix is not quite enough, but you will have extra brownie pieces using a double batch. I usually have a little leftover pudding and Cool Whip too.

This recipe is not exactly swimsuit friendly, but I couldn’t resist. Do you eat delicious party food to kick off the summer, or do you lean towards “healthier” options?

chocolate trifle bite