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Nicole Franz is a copy editor and paginator at The News-Herald in Willoughby. She takes all those sweet recipes, grueling workouts, cleaning tips, money-saving tricks, do-it-yourself projects and looks that seem so cool on Pinterest and writes about how they really turn out.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Brownie bites on steroids: Cookie dough, Reese’s and brownie batter makes for decadent dessert



My co-worker Cheryl Sadler tweeted me this pin back in December. Here’s how the exchange went down:





And then when I was working with her the next day we had a conversation about it. And then we had about a half-dozen other conversations about it until I found a good reason to make this extravagant dessert that Cheryl had been badgering me about: an informal Christmas party at The News-Herald.

Perfect, I thought, I’ll scour through papers for coupons and get a good deal on cookie dough and Reese’s because of the holiday, and then make this dessert that looks so easy. So very easy.

Now I don’t want to scare you off, because if you follow my tips you’ll be fine, but my first attempt at making this was not easy. I learned the hard way how to make these over-the-top chocolaty treats.

My ingredients (minus the oil and egg)

Ingredients

Break-apart refrigerated cookie dough (I used the Nestle Toll House Ultimates Chocolate Chip Lovers)
Reese’s (I used the Miniatures)
Brownie batter (I just used the Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Brownie mix and followed the instructions to add egg and oil)

Instructions on the pin

Preheat oven to 350; smoosh 1.5 squares of break-apart refrigerated cookie dough into the bottom of each well. Place Reese cup upside down on top of cookie dough (or an Oreo!). Top with prepared box brownie mix, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 18 minutes!

Dark chocolate brownie batter. It took a lot of willpower
to just not devour this whole bowl by the spoonful.

How it went: First attempt

Like I mentioned, my first batch did not go as planned. 

I started by making the brownie batter, which went flawlessly. If you can read, follow directions, successfully crack an egg, measure oil, and whisk then you can make brownie batter as easily as I did.

I don’t have whatever magical pan is featured in the post. It has 12 squares and looks gi-normous if a full-sized Reese’s peanut butter cup fits so seamlessly in it. I have a regular muffin tin, so that’s what I used.

That's a lot of chocolate chunks

I took the cookie dough and broke it apart, redistributing the chocolate chips and chunks that fell off in an equitable manner. I then took each individual piece and dumped it in one of the muffin wells that I had thoroughly doused with non-stick cooking spray. I then smooshed the cookie dough squares into the circular wells so they’d fit better. I just used my freshly washed hands, though I suppose you could be more germaphobic than me (it wouldn’t take much) and use a spoon.

Properly smooshed and ready for Reese's

Then I placed a Reese’s Miniature on top of each cookie dough bit. I tried to push one or two of them down into the dough so they wouldn’t stick out, but with the cold cookie dough it was breaking the room-temperature Reese’s up.

You can see the Reese's I destroyed trying to
press it into the cold cookie dough

I abandoned that attempt and just rolled onward to the brownie batter part. Now it said to fill three-quarters full, but because I was using regular old muffin tins, the prepackaged cookie dough bits had already filled the muffin wells halfway. So I just spooned enough brownie batter to cover the cookie dough and drizzled it over the Reese’s minis as best I could to leave space for the brownie batter to expand.

This is where I started to feel like I was doing something wrong

It doesn’t say how high to have your oven. So I’d split the difference on the instructions on the cookie dough and brownie mix. Brownie mix called for 350 degrees. Cookie dough called for 325 degrees. I went somewhere in the middle and once my oven was preheated I popped the suckers in and set a timer for 12 minutes (I always set an early timer to make sure I don’t burn things).

After 12 minutes I pulled them out to check and did the toothpick trick (sticking a clean toothpick in something you’re baking and if it comes out dry it’s cooked through): Not finished. Tossed it in for the rest of the instructed 18 minutes, and pulled them out to cool, while I got ready for work.



Once I was dressed and ready to go, I headed back to the kitchen to take the dessert out of the muffin tin and transfer them to a plate to whisk off to work. Here is where I hit my first major speed bump.

In trying to remove the brownie bite from the muffin tin, I attempted to use a spoon to loosen the dessert from the pan and transfer it to the table. I started to scoop up the bite and discovered the cookie dough wasn’t fully cooked. I had a mushy treat that was not going to fly.

I flipped the oven back on and tossed the whole tray back in the oven. I looked at the clock 4:22 p.m. There was no way I was going to make it into the office by 4:30 p.m. when this informal Christmas party was supposed to start, but I’d already started this thing, and damn it I was going to see them through.

I check on them after seven minutes, and thought, “They’re passable now — solid enough to not give anyone food poisoning, but man are they ugly.”

They look burnt. The dark chocolate brownie parts are very dark. It is dark chocolate after all. There are spots where chocolate chip cookie peeks out making it look even less appetizing.

“But, hey,” I thought, “they smell delicious, and my co-workers are journalists. We’ll eat anything as long as it’s free.”

So with that ringing endorsement floating in my head, I clumsily and hastily spoon them out onto my plate and cover the plate in aluminum foil. I’m rushing so much I didn’t even bother to take a photo of them yet. I’ll snap one when I get to the office. I toss on my coat, grab my gloves and purse, pick up the plate and head out of my apartment.

This is where it all goes to hell. Jostling with my purse on one arm, trying to manage my keys and the tray of brownie bites in one hand and dash down my hallway to the elevator in heels, I manage to flip the whole plate of brownie bites. It’s a disaster. Most land squarely on the carpet. Some land on top of those and two stubborn brownie bites cling to the awkward space I created between the aluminum foil and the plate while vainly trying to rescue the plate of goodies. I scoop up the ones that didn’t hit the floor (maybe four or five), put them on the plate and scoop up the rest of them and as many of the crumbs as I could manage onto the aluminum foil. I rushed back to my apartment and put the plate of salvageable treats on the counter for my roommate to discover when he comes home. Then — frustrated and defeated — I dump the rest into the trash and dash off to work.

How it went: Second batch

Now this was a much less stressful experience. I’m not going to go through the whole set of instructions but I will tell you what I did differently than give you them as handy-dandy instructions at the end of the post.

The dough is perfectly soft and mushy,
but the chocolate retains its shape still

I took the cookie dough that I pressed into the muffin tin and baked it for about five minutes at 325 degrees, just enough so it would soften up, but not enough that it was starting to turn brown. The chocolate chips/chunks hadn’t even really started to melt much.

I pulled out the tray and then pushed a Reese’s miniature right-side-up halfway into each cookie.

This is going swimmingly.

Then I poured enough brownie batter over each chocolate chip cookie/Reese combo to cover the Reese completely, leaving the same amount of space left over. Then I baked them for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees and pulled them out to check with the toothpick trick. They needed just a little bit more time, two minutes or to completely firm up.

This is what I expected the first batch to look like before I baked it,
dropped it and destroyed my hopes and dreams for overwhelming
chocolaty peanut-butter goodness on that first day.

Then I pulled them out to cool for about 15 minutes. Then I used a butter knife to loosen the brownie bites from the sides of muffin tin. Then I used a spoon to scoop them out into a container with a lid, because I learn from my mistakes. A few of them still broke up, and they still looked absolutely ridiculous, but I successfully got some of them (the ones my roommate didn’t devour) to work.

Results

While these look awful, they taste amazing. My roommate ate most of the ones I salvaged from the first batch, but when I got home for work, I tried one. And, wow, they are insanely rich and very chocolaty. I’m not sure how my roomie managed to eat multiple brownie bites on steroids in one sitting (I’m pretty sure he ate three or four from the first batch in one night and at least five from the second batch over the course of 24 hours).

The ones I managed to bring into work went over very well with The News-Herald Christmas Eve-eve workers. Cheryl and the rest of the Sunday-night crew raved about them. One of my co-workers, Jim Finlayson, even inspired the name I’m calling these decadent delights by saying, “It’s like a brownie bite on steroids.”

After all the feedback I received, I can’t imagine using full-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, because these are excessive enough with the Miniatures.

I can, however imagine using homemade cookie dough. In fact, if I repeat this recipe, I’ll probably make homemade chocolate chip cookie dough and leave out the chocolate chips. Then I can place a smaller portion of cookie dough in each muffin well to make these brownie bites on steroids a little smaller, maybe just brownie bites that hit the gym regularly.

Seriously these look awful and burnt, but I promise they're not.
They're delicious.

New-and-improved brownie bites on steroids

Ingredients

Chocolate chip cookie dough (with or without chocolate chips, prepackaged or homemade)

Reese’s miniatures

Brownie batter

Instructions

Preheat oven to whatever temperature at which you would usually bake chocolate chip cookies.

Take the cookie dough and place enough to fill about a quarter to a third of each well in the muffin tin, pressing into sides.

Bake the cookie dough for about five minutes or however long it takes for the dough to warm up and not start turning brown.

Take the tray out, push a Reese’s Miniature halfway into each bit of cookie dough.

Cover with enough brownie batter to make the Reese’s disappear.

Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the brownie batter is cooked through.

Remove from oven and let cool so brownie bites continue to harden.

Use butter knife or similar tool to loosen from sides of muffin well then scoop out with spoon.

Enjoy awkard-looking treats that taste amazing!



— Nicole Franz | NiFranz@News-Herald.com | @FranzOrFoe
Follow my Mission: Pinpossible board on Pinterest.

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