Buckeye Brownies

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My favorite (and best) cooking inspiration has always been making things for the people I love. Especially birthdays. Birthdays are my favorite thing in the world, and nothing brings me more happiness than making the perfect treat to show my love.

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In fact, to date my favorite recipe I’ve ever made was for Steve’s birthday last year. I have to tell you, though–these give them a run for their money!

buckeyebrownies-10Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

When I saw this post on Brown Eyed Baker a couple of months ago, I immediately sent it to Nicole–the idea is genius, the photos are absolutely gorgeous, and I wanted to jump through my screen and lick every crumb.

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So when I was deciding what to make Nicole for her birthday this year, I knew exactly where I wanted to start. Of course, I changed a few things to make these a little less indulgent, but they still tasted rich and decadent. The brownie layer is the fudgiest brownie I have ever tasted, and the peanut butter tastes like the inside of a Reese’s cup, and then that perfectly glossy glaze? I diiiieeee.

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The good thing about cooking for your BBF (best blog friend–I know, we’re totally, like tweens) is they don’t mind that you cut into their birthday dessert to photograph it, and maybe sneak a tiny bite so that you can make sure it’s perfect before you give it to them. ;) Thanks for taking one for the team blog, Nicole!

Buckeye Brownies via arismenu.com

Buckeye Brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 32

Serving Size: 1 brownie

Buckeye Brownies

Rich and fudgy brownies topped with creamy sweetened peanut butter, followed by a chocolate peanut butter glaze--these brownies are to-die-for!

Ingredients

    For the brownies:
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • dash
  • salt
  • For the peanut butter layer:
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • For the chocolate peanut butter glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  1. To make the brownies, preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, espresso powder and water. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla and sugar. Stir in flour and salt until combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Bake set and until a toothpick inserted a couple of inches from the edge comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. To make the peanut butter layer, beat together peanut butter, coconut oil and powdered sugar until smooth. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time until you reach a smooth, spreadable texture. Spread evenly onto cooled brownies.
  5. To make the glaze, place chocolate and peanut butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Spread glaze evenly over peanut butter layer. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then serve. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baked

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Drink & Dish: DIY Funfetti Cake Mix {with video!}

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BEST BLOG FRIEND NICOLE!!!!DIY Funfetti Cake Mix #vegan via www.arismenu.com

You guys know how insanely obsessed with birthdays I am, right? I jump on any chance to celebrate, and I consider birthdays the day you celebrate that people you love are in your life. My normal birthday message goes something like “Happy birthday! I’m glad you were born!”

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So okay, it might sounds a little silly and cheesy, but how often to we actually tell people we love that we’re glad they’ve in our lives? It’s nice to have a day where we’re reminded. Or maybe I’m just sentimental…

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The beginning of April is crazy birthday time! Within a week, Steve, Nicole and her husband Lance all have their birthdays. I’m the odd man out, but that’s probably a good thing, because I have a total sharing problem when it comes to my birthday. I reallllllly like attention (in case you haven’t figured that one out yet), and I don’t want to share my thunder with anyone.

DIY Funfetti Cake Mix #vegan via www.arismenu.com

Once my dad told me he was dating someone with the same birthday as me. He thought I would think this was “cool”. I told him he should probably break it off. Some people are bad at sharing books and m&ms (I love you Heath), I’m bad at sharing birthdays.

DIY Funfetti Cake Mix #vegan via www.arismenu.com

So I have some pretty serious character flaws. Sharing, over sharing, and obsessive sprinkle photographing. I’m sorry. I took, like, 100 pictures because…sprinkles, they’re sooooo pretty. It was one of those magic days where I loved shooting from every angle, and of course, I wanted to share every single one of them with you because God forbid I leave out the one that looks the same, but it slightly closer up. I don’t know what my problem is.

DIY Funfetti Cake Mix #vegan via www.arismenu.com

That’s why I made the little collage. I figured it would make this post, maybe not 500 years long. Some people just post, like 2 pictures, say a few words, and then post a recipe, but I have SO MANY things to say and OMG SO MANY things to show you!

DIY Funfetti Cake Mix #vegan via www.arismenu.com

Oh, and I guess I should talk about the cake mix, eh? To put it concisely (because lord knows I’ve talked enough in this post), I can’t believe I ever bought a boxed cake mix! This was so much easier than driving to the store! I know sometimes we like to have a little bit of cake mix on hand for when other recipes call for it–well friends, you just put some together, and have it ready in the pantry. It’s so easy. And when I baked it into cupcakes, all I did was mix everything together in one bowl (all you have to add is applesauce, almond milk and vanilla!), and my cupcakes were done in NO TIME! Not to mention, they domed up so beautifully!

DIY Funfetti Cake Mix #vegan via www.arismenu.com

It was a great excuse to throw some sprinkles around with the birthday girl, and film the latest episode of Drink & Dish! Make sure to check out Nicole’s Boozy Birthday Cake Shake. It is ridiculously, sinfully good.


DIY Funfetti Cake Mix

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 1/24th mix

Easy, homemade, whole grain, vegan funfetti cake mix in less time than it takes to run to the store to buy a box.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • small pinch salt
  • 1 1/3 cups Jimmies sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Whisk all ingredients in together in a large bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Notes

To bake cupcakes, simply add 2/3 cup applesauce, 2 and 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, and 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract to mix. Stir until combined. Evenly divide the batter between 2 dozen cupcake tins and bake @ 350 until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. You can also bake into 2 8-9" rounds, or one large sheet cake, just adjust baking times accordingly.

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Weekend Ramblings

1. A few weeks ago, I went to my awesome friend Jen’s wedding. I took all sorts of pictures, and planned on doing a full blog post about it. That clearly never happened, but I wanted to at least share a little bit of it with you guys. It was so fun. It was the first wedding I’ve been to in my adult life where I didn’t have responsibilities like “bridesmaid” or “bride”. I just got to hang out with some of my favorite NYC guys, and rap Gangsta’s Paradise per my wedding tradition. It’s cute, I promise. I can do it at your wedding for no charge.

JenWedding1

 

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2. After Jen’s wedding, we took a 24 hour trip to DC which was just not long enough. I haven’t been there since I was in elementary school, and there was so much I wanted to explore! I did get to see the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Holocaust Museum (best part–so beautiful and moving). I also ate, like, the best dinner of my life at Founding Farmers. If you’re ever in DC, GO THERE! You’re welcome.

DC

 

3. Speaking of elementary school (I mean, I did for a hot second), did I mention how at PF Chang’s I ran into my elementary school music teacher? And she remembered me. I have “one of those faces”, or that’s what people tell me. I’ve looked exactly the same for my entire life. The awkward part? I never remember anyone. Even if I know you, if I’m not expecting to see you, it will take me a good 5 minutes to register who you are. I know a lot of people, so this is often embarrassing. I also have the hardest time learning names (because I have, oh, a million students), and this leads to a constant feeling of worst-teacher-ever. It’s a good thing I’m funny.

4. I’m pretty sure my birthday party is tonight. This week, Steve created an event on facebook titles “Ariana’s Birthday” which I was not invited to. Except he didn’t make it a secret event, and it showed up on my news feed, so obviously I clicked on it. The Stacey texted me to let me know she was attending. I hope they still shout surprise when I get there, and I hope that Nicole makes the dessert. ;)

5. I really really really love birthdays. I’m sure this is a big surprise. But I feel a little weird about this birthday. Everyone just gave up a weekend to celebrate me running a marathon. I feel like I should give them a break. I mean, not that I will turn down positive attention, because we all know I love things to revolve around me, but I’m starting to feel like a jerk, and maybe I should spread some of the love around. Like, for my birthday, maybe I should have thrown a party for me friends to tell them how awesome they are! I guess it’s a little late for that. It’s a nice idea in theory, though.

6. My other favorite thing about February is that the Academy Awards are coming!!! I still need to see Argo and The Sessions, but then my list will be pretty complete. At least for the movies I actually care to see which does not include Django Unchained. I’m sorry I just have no interest. Lincoln is still my favorite for the year, but I’m also a huge fan of Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty. There are some fantastic performances in Flight and The Impossible. And I think Pitch Perfect was totally robbed of a best picture nom. I mean, don’t you  feel like it was the best movie of 2012???

7. I’ve updated my blogroll. Check out some awesome blogs for your reading enjoyment. The list is a little ridiculous, but the sad truth is it’s less than half of my reader. These are the ones I really love, and I think you will too.

Jason’s 31st Birthday

So Jason is officially 31, which, if my memory serves me correctly, means we’ve been friends for about 11 years. It’s been quite a decade, and I have had the pleasure of watching one of my favorite people on earth grow up, and become this truly incredible version of himself. I love that about life long friendships–seeing how people change, and grow, and who they become along the way. I can’t wait to see how we all morph over the next decade!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure to celebrate Jason’s birthday before I left for the summer, so Saturday night we headed to O.H.S.O. Brewery. I read about this place on Marisa’s blog, and it looked like the perfect place for the occasion. Great looking menu, and enormous list of beers on tap, including some of my personal favorites.

“It’s my birthday!” Jason is going to be so happy I posted this picture.

Next to Jason is his friend Charles. Charles *hates* having his picture taken. He tried to hide from the camera several times, but he was right next to the birthday boy, so he’s in more shots than he knows ;)

Hermano is creepily trying to get into that shot in the background, hah.

Look Hermano, you get your OWN picture! ;)

While we waited for our food, we had some drinks. I had a half and half pint of coffee porter and sonoran white chocolate ale. Ummm, delicious. I’m a great beer mixer. I couldn’t wait for Jason to open his presents, so he started right after we ordered.

We got him the awesome Minnie Mouse bag. Hi Charles! ;)

Okay, so last week Jason was at my house, and his birthday present had come in the mail already, and Steve and I didn’t realize it was sitting out on the counter, so Jason picks it up and asks “Whose is this?” Crap. I totally froze, and blew the surprise, so he wasn’t exactly shocked when he opened it.

A GARMIN!!! What’s funny is Tom got him a one year gym membership. We didn’t consult until after we bought our respective gifts. I suggested to Bethany to make the whole thing really offensive and buy him a session of liposuction. Hah. But seriously, Jason has been doing awesome with his running, and I think he will get a ton of use out of this baby, especially since the day of his birthday celebration I pretty much forced him to sign up for a half marathon. Yes, I am a great friend. If you would like a super obnoxious friend that forces you to work out against your will, I am now accepting applications.

We also got him something he will probably enjoy even more…

It’s a People of Walmart book. Jason hates Walmart, and he always talks about how trashy it is, so I knew he’d get a kick out of this book. Next, he opened Bethany’s present.

Clearly, it was a hit.

Great work, Bethy. Not only did you buy the best gift, and fit the gift theme, you also fit the wrapping theme. The hot pink is perfect.

SHAKE WEIGHT!!!!!

Pump those biceps. It’s also the female shake weight. Gotta start somewhere.

We also had a pretty hilarious talk about shake weight injuries. Apparently, that thing can be dangerous! Shake with caution. Steve and I registered for one of those when we got married, but I am very sad to report that no one got us one.

Shortly after presents, our food arrived, and everything was so so soooo delicious. I didn’t take pictures of any of it because I was too busy inhaling my veggie burger. Yummmmm. Then we had birthday brownies for dessert.

Recipe coming soon. These were ridiculous.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASY!!!!
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Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

My mom loves chocolate. She used to tell me that a dessert without chocolate was a total waste.

Most of my life, I was more of a vanilla person. I liked chocolate in things, but I never liked chocolate based desserts–I always thought they were too overwhelming. In fact, at one point in my life, I swore off chocolate thinking it would help with my weight loss. It didn’t. Turns out when you replace your mocha with a caramel macchiato, and make your chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch chips, it actually makes no difference at all. Funny how that works.

When I did the awful carb diets and swore off sweets for entirely too long (if you can imagine me eating no dessert–it’s a scary thought), my tastes entirely changed. Suddenly, the richer, deeper, and more intense the flavor was, the more I loved it! Dark chocolate became more appealing than my once favorite white, and I started craving brownies instead of snickerdoodle cookies.

These days, it depends on my mood, and if you offered me a chocolate and a vanilla cupcake, I would probably want a vanilla one with chocolate frosting. Or a chocolate one with vanilla frosting. But my mother–she will choose all chocolate. Well, to be honest, it probably doesn’t matter what kind of cupcake it is, because all she really wants is the frosting ;)

Frosting is an other thing I used to not like. But I think that’s because I was eating store bought frosting, and that’s gross. In fact, I find most buttercream kind of disgusting. So sickeningly sweet that it makes your mouth feel funny. I look at the amount of sugar in most frosting recipes, and usually end up taking almost a cup of it away! Now don’t get me wrong, this frosting has plenty of sugar, but it isn’t overwhelming. You can taste the cream cheese, and the chocolate, and not just get a mouthful of sugar. Cream cheese and whipped cream frostings are something I can get behind. You can keep your buttercream and fondant.

These were my mom’s birthday cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes made with coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor, filled with white chocolate, and topped with my very favorite chocolate cream cheese frosting. Rich chocolatey flavor, without feeling heavy. That is my kind of cupcake. Especially delicious with a glass of almond milk. Mmmmm.

 

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
yield 1 dozen

Cupcakes inspired by Brown Eyed Baker

  • 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder (or Hershey’s special dark)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup all natural white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together applesauce, sugar, and egg substitute until well combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, coffee, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Cool cupcakes completely on wire racks. Meanwhile, prepare frosting. When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and enjoy.