Magical candy is kind of a draw in children’s literature. Mr. Star Wars recently read The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop and let me borrow it when he finished. In the book, a family inherits a closed down chocolate shop with lots of magical secrets. It is my newest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “read alike” book. Books that use food (particularly chocolate) as a central plot detail are a big hit with kids.
Mr. Star Wars and I tried to name all of the books we know that use food in some way. We came up with chapter books with candy, chapter books with non-traditional foods– like worms (!), picture books, an even some books that one food item steals a scene. I cut us off after we started on the picture book titles because there are just so many books we could list. What is your favorite book that will make your mouth water?
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.
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.)
Combine caramels and 1/3 c. evaporated milk in a double boiler. Stir until melted and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, melted margarine, and 1/3 c. evaporated milk.
Press 1/2 of the dough in a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for ~6 minutes and remove from oven.
Sprinkle the partially baked dough with chocolate chips.
Spread the melted caramel over the chocolate chips and gently spread evenly with a spatula.
Crumple the remaining dough over the caramel layer.
Bake an additional 15-18 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let cool and cut into squares to serve.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Spread a layer of chocolate pudding on the brownie pieces.
Spread a layer of Cool Whip on the pudding layer.
Sprinkle Heath bar pieces on the Cool Whip.
Repeat the layers ending with Heath bar sprinkles.
Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours before serving.
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?