Friday, October 18, 2013

Cooking with Jon & Steph - Pumpkin Patch Brownies

While looking for fun Halloween baking ideas on Pinterest recently, I came across this gem:

It looked and sounded amazing! But when I couldn't find the candy corn Hershey's kisses ANYWHERE, I decided to improvise with these fall favorites:

Jon doesn't even like these candy pumpkins, but he LOVED these brownies!

First, you mix the shortbread dough together. The Pinterest/blog recipe has this. It was super easy! Cream together butter and sugar, then add flour and a pinch of salt until doughy.

Then you press it into the bottom of a pan. I found this easiest to do with my fingers :)

I decided this was like the "patch" for my candy pumpkins.

 I lined the shortbread with the pumpkin cuties so that there would be about 1 per brownie. If I were to make these again (which we WILL) I would put in twice as many pumpkins.

I covered the pumpkins with this delicious Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie mix.

I have since learned that there is a TRIPLE chocolate brownie version of this. But seriously, this dessert is so rich, double was plenty!

I mediated all of the baking times from the Pinterest recipe and the back of the box. We baked our brownies in this 12x8" pan for 45 minutes and that was PERFECT.

Over the stovetop, we melted 1.5 cups semi sweet chocolate chips with 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream in a double boiler to make a chocolate ganache for the top, because I just thought that sounded better than melting down candies for the top like the Pinterest recipe suggested. And I hate store bought frosting in a can.

We poured/spread the ganache over the top of the brownies right after they came out of the oven and it bubbled a little at the edges, sealing in the amazingness of chocolate overload.

Even though I had to scrape the ganache off the top of mine and let Jon have it, I thought these were DELICIOUS!! (Don't worry, I braved it a couple days later with some lactaid pills, and it is SOOOOO good. And I didn't even get sick. These brownies are a miracle!)

I loved that I renamed them and they ended up being "pumpkin patch brownies" because we ate them after Family Home Evening while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas after we went to the pumpkin patch. It was perfect! I'm pretty sure that these will be made EVERY October from now on.

The best part is they are fantastic warm or cold. The shortbread layer makes a perfect buttery neutral flavor against the gooey brownie and the rich ganache on top.

Heaven. On. Earth.

Monday, October 7, 2013

September - The Month Of...


This project was not originally one that we had thought of at the beginning of the year. But when things like "glass blowing" prove to be monetarily challenging, you get creative :)

Making Kate her own crayons was actually Jon's idea - and I loved it! He found a recipe online for making crayons and it is very simple. You basically melt caranuba wax over the stove and add in pigment (like good gel paste food coloring or other natural plant pigments.)

We had these cool fishy ice cube trays from IKEA so we decided to use that as our mold and make Kate fishy crayons :)

We made sure to use a pan that we were never planning on using for food again. You can use it for future projects and wax melting, but otherwise it will destroy your pan. Luckily this one was super old and ready for the recycling anyway.

*sprinkle sprinkle* like waxy snow!

Margo thought the whole thing just looked delicious :)

The wax melted beautifully at a medium/low heat. Once melted all the way you turn the heat down as LOW as possible.

The next step is to pour about 1/4 cup of wax into another container for adding color. The approximate measurement is 1TB of pigment per 1/4 cup of melted wax.

Our first attempt did not go super well. We thought you were supposed to reserve a bit of wax and add the color, then put that wax back in with your melted stuff on the stove.

So these first crayons are not very pigmented.

After reading the instructions a little more closely, we did the next ones with more concentrated doses of food coloring, and they turned out ok!

The best part is that the extra wax on the outer edges of the mold can be re-melted down with the other wax to recycle and use in more crayons.
We made green, red and blue for our first try.
After letting the fishy crayons cool, we popped them out of the molds:

Obviously this is something that we can continue to get better and better at. We decided that next time we'll order pigment online so that the crayons have more color to rub on the paper.

Jon gives this project a rating of: "Unsuccessful, but definitely try again."
Steph gives this project a rating of: "Fun and worth playing with for better results!"

We're really hoping that this is the first step in creating baby Kate's very own homemade line of toddler art supplies ;)