Brownie Sundaes

Guys, I know Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap for being too sweet, too commercial, too much…but! I’ve always been a believer in celebrating this day of love and appreciation, whether one is coupled or not. Before I met Sean, all of my Valentine’s were more of a Leslie Knope a la Galentine’s situation…which isn’t bad at all, if you ask me. I love my friends and my girlfriends are so very near and dear to my heart. Girlfriend’s are my spirit animal. It’s just the truth.

So, basically  what I’m saying is that even if you’d rather scrooge the day away, don’t do it alone. Or at least, don’t eat dessert alone. This brownie sundae was made for sharing, you can double up on the brownies and the ice cream and the fudge and just attack it with two spoons–as singles, as friends, as couples, whatevs! and whether it’s romantic or platonic, it’s the day to celebrate the loves of your life! Hugs and sundaes all around!


Brownie Sundaes

I cut the brownies out with heart cutters and mini heart cutters to up the festive/cute factor. This is a totally optional step, you can simply cut them into generous squares. These sundaes come together quickly using store-bought ice cream. You can use whatever brownie recipe you love, below I have my favorite. The fudge sauce really is no-nonsense, it comes together perfectly and swiftly in the microwave. The brownie and fudge recipe make enough for several sundaes. 

Brownies (recipe below)

No Nonsense Hot Fudge (recipe below)

Ice Cream (softened slightly for easy scooping)

Toasted Almonds (optional)

If the brownies are room temperature or chilled, pop in the microwave in 10 second bursts until just warm. Place a brownie (or two) in the center of a bowl, spoon a bit of warm fudge over the top of the brownie. Dish out 2-3 scoops of ice cream, top with more hot fudge and almonds (if using). Serve with two spoons.

Spiced Cocoa Brownies

adapted from this recipe. 

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa plus 2 Tablespoons

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cold eggs

1/2 cup flour

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment and grease well. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, cocoa, salt and vanilla, to moisten and combine well. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool a few minutes–until no longer hot, but still warm to the touch. The mixture may appear grainy and a bit greasy.

Once the mixture has cooled to warm and the pan is no longer burning-hot, vigorously whisk in the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated–the mixture should be smooth and shiny. Fold in the flour, fold about 40 times. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl whisk together the tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the top of the brownie batter. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownie comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely before cutting.

No-Nonsense Hot Fudge

recipe from Take a Megabite

2/3 (1, 5 oz. can) cup evaporated milk

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

pinch of salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a large, heatproof measuring cup combine all of the ingredients. Using the microwave on high, microwave the mixture in 30 second bursts, stirring after each, until the mixture is melted, smooth, and mixed well–about 2 minutes total. Allow the fudge to set up a 1-3 minutes for the best consistency.

Recipe: Espresso + Toasted Almond Semifreddo

I really love coffee.

When I was a small child, I would relish visits to my grandparents house…not only for the blackberry picking expeditions and days tromping through the woods surrounding their Sierra foothills home, but, because for breakfast there were often waffles with strawberries and cream AND a mug of sugary milk with a splash of coffee.

That creamy-sweet, slightly coffee flavored mug of goodness was a serious treat. My mom never made it a practice to allow us to have soda, let alone coffee as kids. The only exception (besides trips to grandma and grandpa’s) was when we would go to Baskin Robbins for a scoop–or if we were really lucky, a double–my brother always got a classic kid-friendly flavor, like bubble gum, but I ALWAYS got jamoca almond fudge. Coffee, almonds, and a fudge swirl. So good.

This semifreddo is reminiscent of those childhood days, when coffee-flavored treats felt so mature to my kid-palate. The texture of the semifreddo is somewhere between an ice cream and a mousse–all without the need for a machine to churn it all. It’s flavored with instant espresso, sweet cream, toasty almonds, and creamy almond butter. It’s great on it’s own, but, serving scoops in a puddle of chocolate sauce makes this dessert a touch fancier… Definitely something my young-self would have been into.

Espresso + Toasted Almond Semifreddo

adapted from Pumpkin Semifreddo

I use instant espresso powder in this recipe for ease and because I really like it in desserts.   If you’re feeling fancy, you could definitely brew a few shots, cool, and fold those into the mixture before folding in the almonds and freezing. 

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder–divided

3 Tablespoons honey

3 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons water

3 large egg yolks

2 Tablespoons almond butter

1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds

Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of espresso powder over the cream in a large bowl to dissolve. Once dissolved, whip the cream to medium peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Make an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl. In a large, heatproof bowl whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon espresso powder, honey, sugar, water, and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and the whisk leaves visible tracks. Remove from heat and continue to whisk over the ice bath until cooled. Fold in the almond butter. Stir in about 1/3 of the prepared whipped cream, then fold in the remaining whipped cream, and lastly fold in the chopped almonds. Scrape the mixture into a container, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 4 hours to set.

Spiced Chocolate Sauce

adapted from The Perfect Scoop

I only made a small quantity of sauce, this is 1/4 of the original recipe. 

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped or chips

1/16-1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan combine water, honey, and cocoa powder, bring to a low boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, spices, and vanilla. Can be used warm or room temperature.




Recipe: Pear Cranberry Muffins

These muffins are perfect for snowy mornings. They were originally a bread, that I made last week after seeing it on Shutterbean. Tracy knows where it’s at when it come to delicious things. It was so dang good, I had to have it again this week, only in muffin form. These muffins have crunch from the nuts, tang from the cranberries, heartiness from wheat germ, tender moisture from juicy pears, and little hints of spice. The first time around I made the recipe as is, this time I added a few things like fresh ginger, a bit of allspice, swapped the walnuts for pecans, and snuck in that wheat germ–for science and health.

Like I said, these are perfect for snowy mornings. The kind where you wake up to heavy tree limbs all over your yard, and a massive driveway + walkway to shovel. Maybe you weren’t even prepared for the snow and forgot that you needed a snow shovel, so you had to drive to the hardware store before the sun was even up to procure one…but, thank goodness your car is a boss in the snow. After you’re done heaving around that heavy & wet snow and chucking those tree limbs back into the forest, you can come inside to a hot cup of coffee and a tasty muffin treat. You deserve it for being so physical first thing in the AM.

For those of you that may be wondering, this isn’t my first snow-rodeo. Despite being from Nevada, I’ve had my fair share of snow…contrary to popular belief, the desert has more to do with precipitation (or lack thereof) than heat. I lived in the northern part of the state, just east of the Sierra Nevadas where it’s usually cold, hot, or windy, and always arid.  

Pear Cranberry Muffins

adapted from Shutterbean

makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons wheat germ

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 large egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cups grated, peeled, ripe pear + any juices (about 2 pears)

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F and line or spray a muffin tin. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together egg, oil, ginger, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and grated pear + juices. Fold wet ingredients into dry until just combined. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Evenly divide batter between muffin cups and bake fro 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Store in an airtight container after completely cooled.