baking

a sip (or bite) to celebrate

guiness brownies with bailey's cream cheese swirl

Here’s to drinking, and to eating your drink. Not necessarily just for St. Patrick’s Day, the celebration of over-exuberant liver owners worldwide, these Guinness stout brownies with Bailey’s Irish Cream and cream cheese swirls should be part of any March celebration. (Especially if you double the amount of Irish cream in the recipe.) Completing your U.S. taxes early? Drink a brownie. Survived the ides of March? Drink a brownie. You value pi, but are not a pie-lover? Drink a brownie. So indeed, raise your adult chocolatey baked good to toast the good taste of our Irish friends all month long (and should the brownie-celebratory mood hit you during April through February, cheers to your own good taste!)

baking

cinco de mayo brownies

The days are getting longer and it’s time to savor the lingering sunny hours with friends, food, and oh yeah – margaritas.  Cinco de Mayo is a perfect excuse to fire up the grill, chop up some taco fixings, and have an ice chest full of Pacificos and Mexican Coke. After a bit of sun, two or three too many tacos, and   an empty ice chest, you and your guests are going to experience a wicked sugar crash – will you be prepared? Save the day with a plate of Mexican chocolate-inspired brownies (I mean really, who doesn’t like brownies?).

The sweet, fudgy brownies in this recipe reflect the flavors of Mexican chocolate: chocolate, cinnamon and almonds. They’re super easy to make and home-made brownies are so much more delicious than the boxed stuff. The only substitute I made (and definitely recommend) is semisweet chocolate chips as the milk chocolate makes these overpoweringly sweet.

For me, these brownies were even better the next day. Keep them in the fridge and let them come to room temperature before eating – the consistency after refrigerating is more fudgy and the chocolate chips creaminess really coming through.

The topping starts out like dulce de leche, a sticky caramel that dries into a crisp glaze. I could have done with out its excessive sugariness, but it does keep the almonds on (and the almonds are integral), maybe next time I’ll just drizzle melted dark chocolate for the same effect.

baking

sweetness and salt

I adore peanut butter and chocolate. Reese’s peanut butter cups are my second favorite candies. My favorite candies are Reese’s peanut butter Easter eggs which have the absolutely perfect ratio of salty fluffy peanut butter to creamy chocolate shell. Those, however, have to be hoarded in the spring to last during the leaner months. So in search of a suitable year-round fix, I came upon this Martha Stewart recipe for rich, fudgy, decadent chocolate brownies tempered with ribbons of salty, creamy peanut butter. The recipe uses a sweetened, fluffy peanut butter filling rather than the straight-from-the jar sticky salty stuff which makes the texture wonderfully light compared to the dense brownie, and reminds me of a Reese’s. These were perfect for a hiking trip to see waterfalls in Big Basin, a late summer potluck cookout with friends, and even for sneaking into the movie theater for a frothy comedy. No hoarding, though.