Some people knit, some people sew, but me? I like to make fabulous messes in my kitchen and call it therapy.
We’ve had a rough week at our house, in which I’ve learned two things:
1. The stomach flu is no joke.
2. It is not possible for me to overstate my gratitude for our washing machine.
Owen got the flu on Monday night, which basically meant that Eric and I were up all night, schlepping loads of clothes and bedding down our basement stairs to be washed. It was a miserable night for all three of us. And while he’s slowly gotten better over the last couple days, it still kind of feels like no combination of bleach wipes and candles will ever make our house smell normal again.
So, Owen and I have been homebound for the last couple days, keeping our germs to ourselves, going more than a little stir crazy…even if I can now proudly recite all of the words to Elmo Loves You, in character. Mixed in with all of that were some budget decision conversations that Eric and I are in the midst of, which is the perfect thing to do when you’re low on sleep and pregnantly hormonal. Needless to say, we’re all a little drained this week.
So, today I made brownies. Endless amounts of brownies, using pretty much all of the dishes I own. And I decorated them because we needed some pretty in our lives. And maybe I ate a baker’s dozen of the ones that crumbled as they came out of the pan.
It felt good to do something structured and orderly and festive and decorative. I’ve made these brownie bites around Christmas the past few years. These moist brownies are dipped in a ganache-like frosting and then decorated any way your little self pleases. And gathered all together, they’re just begging to be part of your holiday dessert tray.
Plus, they’re bite sized, and everyone knows that desserts you can pick up with your thumb and forefinger and eat with one bite don’t really count.
(recipe from The Pioneer Woman )
(yields 50 SMALL brownie bites [about 30 medium-sized])
These pretty brownie bites take a little work but make the perfect addition to any gathering. They're bite-sized, so you can be sure to sample a few different varieties! (Note: I doubled the recipe when I made mine which is why there are so many in the pictures!)
For the Brownies:
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
2 sticks butter, softened
2 c. sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. milk chocolate chips*
1 c. semi-chocolate chunks*
For the Frosting:
8 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Topping Options: sea salt, nuts (whole or chopped), coconut flakes, colored sugar, sprinkles, M&M's, Andes candies bits, chocolate chips, etc.
mini muffin tins
*I've had the most success chopping the chocolate chips and chunks before adding them to the mix - either by pulsing them in my food processor a few times or just hacking away at them with a butcher knife. I've found that if I leave them whole - especially the chunks - they tend to break apart the brownies when I'm trying to remove them from the muffin tins.
Preheat oven to 325*
Melt 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Once it's melted, set it aside for 15 to 30 minutes, allowing it to cool. Chocolate should not be warm!
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs two at a time.
With mixer on low, drizzle in the cooled chocolate. Mix until just combined. Next, add in vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add flour and mix until just combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and mix a little more. Add (chopped) chocolate chips and chocolate chunks and mix for just a few seconds on low, until they're incorporated.
Thoroughly grease your muffin tins (you may also want to flour yours; just know your muffin tin - mine seem to respond best to just being sprayed and thoroughly wiped with cooking spray). Scoop generous teaspoons of batter into each tin. (We don't want the brownies to have muffin tops; try to get them to stay under the top of the tin.) I acutally used my teaspoon to measure this out. I found that the smaller the brownies were, the better!
Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until set. Remove pans from oven and allow brownies to cool in pan completely. (I let mine cool on the counter for five minutes and then popped them in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to speed up the process).
Use a knife to loosen brownies and then carefully place on wire racks.
(If you're re-using your muffin tins for subsequent batches, make sure to re-grease each time!)
To make the frosting, mix cream with corn syrup and heat in a microwave safe container until warm but not bubbling. Add vanilla to warm cream mixture, then pour over chopped chocolate. Stir in the chopped semi-sweet chocolate until it totally melts and mixture is smooth. (You don't want this to be thin...like milk; you're looking for more of a melted ice cream texture or thicker).
Add brownie bites face down in the icing. Dunk to submerge, and spoon icing over the top to thoroughly coat. Remove with a fork, tapping the fork on the side of the bowl several times quickly in order to get the excess to drain between the tines. Carefully set on a baking mat or sheet of waxed paper.
Decorate as you wish!
These keep on the counter top for about 3 days, but I think they're best kept in a covered container in the fridge. They tend to be a little less gooey this way.
Note: Maybe my muffin tins are terrible (they are), but I probably lost 2 out of every 12 brownies as I removed them; you know what to do: get yourself some ice cream and crumble those bad boys up.