Don’t Bother With This Nutella Brownies Recipe

I enjoy some of the cooking shows on Food Network and one of the episodes of Sweet Dreams (a show on desserts) focused on just brownie recipes (w00t). And, rather than Gale (the host) coming up with her own recipes, she baked brownie recipes submitted by viewers. One in particular, the Peanut Butter-Hazelnut Brownies, caught my eye. Of course, the “hazelnut-chocolate spread” to which they refer in the recipe is really just Nutella.

That recipe sounded pretty good to me at the time and so I exported that episode from my TiVo to VHS for safekeeping. Then, when the December Cocktail Event/Holiday Party came up, I figured that I could put the recipe to good use. So, the weekend before, I bought all the ingredients which I didn’t already have — which was primarily flour, cocoa powder and Nutella. And, on Tuesday evening (the day before the party), I baked the brownies.

Per the instructions, I baked the brownies at 350° for 30 minutes and then I let them cool to room temperature before cutting. In my case, the brownies weren’t quite cool when I was heading for bed and so I left the cutting for the following day. Then, after work that next day, I proceeded to cut the brownies and place them into a rectangular Rubbermaid container for the party. And, as I am wont to do, I tried one to ensure that they turned out all right.

It was horrible.

Somehow, the brownie had completely dried up; I was actually so dry that I needed a glass of water to help wash it down. And, the peanut butter and Nutella flavors were nowhere to be seen. Figuring that maybe the outside edge had dried, I then tried a square cut from the center — no such luck, it was just as bad. I couldn’t even make it through eating the whole square and I ended up throwing out the batch. Of course, I still had to bring something to the party (“a snack or dessert”) and so I stopped by Super Target to buy some cookies from their bakery department.

Not to be discouraged, I recalled that the Dallas Camera Club’s Holiday Dinner was coming up (which was also a pot-luck) and I decided to try the recipe again. Fortunately, I had enough ingredients left over from the first attempt that I didn’t need to go back to the store. So, as before, I followed the recipe exactly but I baked the brownies for just 15 minutes this time, and added increments of 5 more minutes until a knife came out clean (for a total of about 23 minutes).

Of course, I had to allow the brownies to cool before cutting them and so I didn’t know right away whether I had succeeded. And, the following day, I sliced the brownies into squares and sampled one — it was distinctly moister but still a bit chalky. After rummaging through my cupboard, I found a legacy can of frosting (left from a former roommate) which I thought to try (Betty Crocker's “Rich & Creamy Mint Chocolate Chip”, fwiw).

The frostiing was a little hard to spread, right out of the can, but I nuked it for about 15 seconds which softened it up. And, I ended up using the whole can on the brownies’ 9x13 pan. I then sampled a square once more and found that this was reasonably all right. It wasn’t the best batch brownies I had ever had, but the frosting pushed them over the line from “bad” to “ok”.

Considering the ingredients, Nutella and peanut butter, I didn’t think I could go wrong. But, this recipe confounded me. I suppose can’t rule out that maybe my oven’s thermostat could be miscalibrated, though that wouldn’t explain the good results I’ve had with other baked goods. Anyhow, if you’re looking for a Nutella-based brownie recipe, I would try something else. And, if you can get this recipe to come out deliciously, then you’re a better man/woman than I.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I brought along some Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies to the LucciHouse Holiday Party last weekend and I thought I’d share the recipe here:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies


  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar [I used Splenda instead]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter [I used creamy peanut butter instead]
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough out flat on the prepared pan.

  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops of the bars look dry. Cool in pan, then cut into squares.

I got the idea for blondies from a cookie run earlier that week — Leia and I walked to Eatzi’s to grab some cookies from their bakery section. In addition to a dozen peanut butter cookies, I also picked up a peanut butter blondie. It was pretty tasty and I pondered whether I could make some myself.

So, I checked AllRecipes’ cookie section and searched for blondie recipes. While there were a fair number of recipes for regular blondies, there were relatively few for peanut butter blondies (why, I have no idea). In addition to the recipe on which I decided, I also considered the recipe for Best Ever Chocolate-Free Blondies but I ruled that one out as I didn’t want to deal with peanut butter chips (at best they tend to resemble peanut butter).

I was pleased with how the blondies turned out, though their consistency was different than I had expected. The blondie which I had at Eatzi’s was fairly chewy but these were flaky in texture. Their texture was almost like that of a thick peanut-butter flavored sugar cookie. I’m curious whether swapping the sugar for Splenda, as I did, had any effect on their chewiness.

Recipe: Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Dallas Camera Club meets twice a month and members take turns bringing in snacks (chosen by rotating through the membership list). Tuesday’s meeting was my turn to bring in snacks and so I decided to bake some cookies. Sure, some people just stop by Kroger and buy a box of cookies, but I figured that baked cookies would be much nicer.

I stopped by AllRecipes a few days ahead of time to select a recipe. Once in their Cookie section, I headed straight for the subsection on Chocolate Chip Cookies. It's not that I had ruled out other cookie types, but I thought I had a good chance of finding a workable chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Fortunately, all the recipes at AllRecipes are rated (on a scale of one to five). With dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes, I just ignored all the non-5-star entries. And, I had in mind more of a soft cookie (rather than crunchy) and that further narrowed the playing field. And one that I finally settled on was called (simply) Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. In particular, the tagline sounded enticing: “Crisp edges, chewy middles”.

As the recipe called for chocolate chips (as you would expect) but also chopped walnuts, I thought I'd have to make a special trip to Super Target for sure. But, I glanced through my pantry beforehand and it turned out that I had all the ingredients already.

When it came time to bake the cookies, the recipe was actually a little easier than I expected. There was no melting of any kind (neither butter nor chocolate) and there're only three steps in total (the first of which is “preheat oven”, so that one hardly counts, even). The one nebulous portion of the recipe was the baking time — “Bake for about 10 minutes […] or until edges are nicely browned”. I don’t like guesswork when it comes to recipes and so I just went with an even 10-minutes for the first batch (well, actually 5 minutes + 5 minutes, as I swapped racks halfway through).

After that first batch, the edges were slightly browned, but who was I to say if that meant “nicely”? To be sure, I baked the second (and third) batches for 11 minutes (5 minutes + 6 minutes) and those were slightly more golden-brown around the edges.

Once they were baked, I set them aside on cooling racks and, as soon as they were cool enough not to burn my tongue, I snarfed one. It was still gooey, of course, but rather tasty. In some ways, it still even had that cookie-dough flavor (as opposed to most other recipes where the cooked product is decidedly different from the raw edition). But, I made a mental note that I'd have to allow them to cool fully before forming a final opinion.

So, the next day, I had one with breakfast (ooh, decadence) and it wasn’t quite the cookie that I recalled from the night before. It was soft, to be sure, but the edges never hardened. Really, it was just soft the whole way through — and some people like it that way, but not me. I wanted that delicate ying & yang of crispiness and softness, but to no avail. So, sure, these cookies are good in the general sense that all cookies are yummy, but I get the feeling that there may be a better chocolate chip cookie recipe out there.

In any case, here’s the recipe.

“Best Chocolate Chip Cookies”


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar [or Splenda, natch]
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (175 degrees C).

  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.

  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned. [11 minutes was an improvement for me, and 12 minutes may be even better]

Recipe: Thick and Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies

I brought along some chocolate chocolate-chip cookies to the Independence Day party on Sunday and I thought I’d share the recipe here. Back when I first received the Evite to the party, I noticed the request for desserts and side dishes and I immediately began to ponder what I could bake.

Being the chocolate nut that I am, I decided fairly early on to go with something chocolate-based, but it was only after watching some TiVod episodes of America’s Test Kitchen that I happened upon the idea of chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. (For those not aware, America’s Test Kitchen is a cooking show on PBS which goes through dozens of iterations for each dish before publishing the recipe that works best).

Fortunately, their recipes are also online (for the recent couple seasons, anyway). And, while the as-televised recipe is for Double-Choclate Cookies, their site also lists a varation which I could not ignore: Triple-Chocolate Cookies. For those keeping score, the double chocolate cookies include Dutch-processed cocoa along with a pound of melted bittersweet chocolate. The triple chocolate cookies include those ingredients plus chocolate chips. Well, on to the recipe:

Double-Chocolate Cookies, Thick and Chewy Cookies

Makes about 3 ½ dozen cookies

To melt the chocolate in a microwave, heat it at 50 percent power for 2 minutes, stir it, then continue heating it at 50 percent power for 1 more minute. If it’s not completely melted, heat it for an another 30 to 45 seconds at 50 percent power. We recommend using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop to scoop the dough. Resist the urge to bake the cookies longer than indicated; they may appear underbaked at first, but they’ll firm up as they cool.


  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

    Some—but not all—supermarkets carry Dutch-processed cocoa. If your local supermarket doesn’t have it, one place where you can definitely find it is at Penzys Spices, including their store just off Preston & 635.

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups packed (10 ½ ounces) light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar


  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl; set that aside.

  2. Melt the chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork, sprinkle the coffee powder over to dissolve it, and set that aside.

  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in the sugars until they’re combined, about 45 seconds; the mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until it’s incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until it’s combined, about 40 seconds.

  4. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With your mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until they’re just combined. Do not overbeat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudgelike, about 30 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1 ½ inches between each ball, scoop the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with a 1 ¾-inch ice-cream scoop.

  6. Bake, reversing position of baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until the edges of cookies have just begun to set but their centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. Cool the cookies on sheets for about 10 minutes, slide the parchment with the cookies onto wire racks, and let them cool to room temperature.

  7. Cover one baking sheet with a new piece of parchment paper. Scoop the remaining dough onto the parchment-lined sheet, bake, and cool as directed. Remove the cooled cookies from the parchment with a wide metal spatula and serve.

Variation — Thick and Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies:

If you like bursts of warm melted chocolate in your cookies [and who doesn’t? —A], include chocolate chips in the batter. The addition of chips will slightly increase the yield of the cookies.

Follow the recipe for Thick and Chewy Double-Chocolate Cookies, adding 12 ounces (about 2 cups) of semisweet chocolate chips to the batter after the dry ingredients are incorporated in step 4.

The only downside to the recipe is that it can take longer than other cookie recipes (especially including the 30-minute wait-time after mixing the dough). All the same, I was really pleased with the results and I think these Triple-Chocolate Cookies may be my new favorite cookie :).

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping

I made blueberry muffins yesterday and they turned out fairly well so I thought I’d post the recipe here. I had decided on blueberry muffins a few days beforehand, but I didn’t have a recipe in mind at the time. So, I next checked — a handy recipe website with ratings and reviews for each recipe.

I found my way to their recipes for muffins & scones and, from there, to their section on blueberry muffins. They had about twenty blueberry muffin recipes, but the To Die For Blueberry Muffins caught my eye as it had a rating of 5/5 stars and it was also selected for one of the Allrecipes cookbooks.

Here’s the recipe:

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients — Muffin Base:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Ingredients — Crumb Topping:

  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup butter, cubed [half a stick]
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together ½ cup sugar, ⅓ cup flour, ¼ cup butter, and 1½ teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

The muffins turned out well — light and fluffy on the inside with a crunchy-sweet topping. Sliced in half and with a touch of butter, they’re rather delectable. And, other than the blueberries, most of the ingredients are items you probably already have in your pantry.

I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out with Splenda, so I just made them with regular sugar this time. But, I would imagine that Splenda would work fine (though the crumb topping may not have that characteristic sugar crystal crunch without the sugar).

As written, the recipe works out to 1.5 Tbsp sugar in each muffin along with an additional 1 Tbsp sugar for each muffin’s crumb topping (for a total of 2.5 Tbsp sugar). At 16g carbs per Tbsp, that’s 40g carbs per muffin that could be cut out (or at least 24g if you kept the sugar in the crumb topping).