Touchdown Brownies

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Regardless of whether you’re a Patriots or Falcons fan, there’s a good chance you’ll be watching the big game. Although I love football and am a diehard Vikings fan, I usually feel pretty “meh” about the Super Bowl. To be honest, I get more excited about the food, commercials, and halftime show then the actual game. Since I consider dessert to be the best part of any meal, I know it’s important not to forget about sweet treats come game day!

With two posts in one week, the Sweet Precision Kitchen is back up and running in 2017! I had to share this recipe with you, because it’s SO easy and absolutely perfect for a Super Bowl party. So let’s have a quick chat about these brownies. When thinking about brownies you have one thing to consider. Are you the type of person that enjoys cake-like or fudge-like brownies? One reason I enjoy this recipe is because it meets somewhere in the middle between the two extremes. I also love it because it comes together in less than 45 minutes. You can even use boxed brownie mix to cut down on the time—there’s no shame in that!

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Touchdown Brownies Recipe
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Brownie Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 container white decorating icing

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Generously grease and flour an 8×8 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To make frosting, melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave. Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar.

When brownies are cool, cut into football shapes with a football-shaped cookie cutter. Spread frosting on brownies. Pipe on decorating icing to look like football laces.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s important that you don’t over-mix your batter. To help with this, make sure you beat your eggs before adding them to the mixture. This way they will combine easily with butter and sugar without requiring you to mix more than needed.

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Chocolate Protein Brownies

I’m waving the white flag of defeat! After over a year of trying to resist, I finally broke down and purchased protein powder—ugh. A little background for my readers… I’ve been working with a personal trainer doing strength training for a little over a year. I always had the mindset that lifting heavy weights was taboo for women, so it’s been exciting to feel (and see) myself getting stronger. I usually try to aim for getting about 30% of my calories from protein and I recently increased the amount of calories I’m eating each day. Although eating more food is always exciting, I’ve been struggling to get enough protein each day. A girl can only eat so much baked chicken and black beans.

Back to the protein powder. I’ve always had this mental stigma that only ginormous body builders use protein powder. I also like to try and get most of my nutrients from “real” foods. Regardless, I decided that I’d give it a chance. So I did what I always do when I’m faced with purchasing something new—I headed to Amazon. After a good hour of research, I settled on what looked like a reasonably priced option that several reviewers promised tasted just like chocolate milk. I was skeptical. Two days later (thank you Amazon Prime) my protein powder arrived and I was excited to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised that it was fairly tasty when mixed with soy milk. Was it as good as chocolate milk? Not quite.

Can you see where my story is going? The next logical step for me was to try baking some desserts with my newly acquired protein powder. Over the years I’ve managed to make my desserts low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar. However, I’ve never been able to make them high-protein. After researching tips and tricks for baking with protein powder, I assembled my own recipe for chocolate brownies. This recipe has another secret ingredient—black beans—which I promise you can’t even taste in the final product. As always, Matthew is the brutally honest taste tester of all my baked goods. Although he doesn’t like chocolate (blasphemy in my opinion) he told me this was the best healthy dessert I’ve ever baked—which I consider a definite win.

Chocolate Protein Brownies

Servings: 12 • Calories: 124 • Fat: 4 g • Carbs: 14 g • Fiber: 4 g • Protein: 9 g • Sugar: 3 g • Sodium: 152 g

Ingredients
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
15 ounce can black beans, drained
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanut butter flavored candy melts, optional

Directions
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil and grease. Set aside for later use.

In a food processor, mix together all ingredients (except candy melts) until batter is smooth. Pour batter into greased pan. If you want some peanut butter flavor, warm candy melts in microwave and drizzle over top of dessert. Use a toothpick to create swirls in the batter.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You want the brownies to look a little underdone, as they will firm up once cool. Cool brownies on a baking rack for about 20 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Keep in mind that protein powders tend to toughen baked goods. That’s why it’s nice to have a very moist batter, which this recipe does. As a result, make sure you do a good job of thoroughly greasing your pan so the brownies don’t stick to the edge and are easy to remove.

Valentine’s Rice Krispies Treats

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Winter has arrived in full force here in Ann Arbor. We received 15 inches of snow last week, and the forecast is still calling for more. It’s easy to be glum about the short days and bitter winds. Especially when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, portending six more weeks of winter. However, there is so much to love about the season! Here are just a few of my favorite things about winter, which will hopefully have you embracing the next inch or two of snow that arrives in your driveway.

1. Tights and leggings
2. Cold, crisp air
3. Hot apple cider
4. Justifiable hibernation
5. Snow days and snow emergencies
6. Seeing your pets reaction to the snow
7. Winter sunrises
8. The first snow of the year
9. Fuzzy socks
10. Comfort food

Speaking of comfort food… a chilly winter day is all the motivation I need to do some serious baking. One of my favorite snacks growing up were the pre-packaged Rice Krispies that came in a little blue package. My mom and I used to buy them in bulk at Sams Club. While I don’t snack on them that often these days, I still enjoy one from the vending machine now and then. This week in the Sweet Precision kitchen, I decided to be a little creative and make some Valentine’s Day inspired Rice Krispies. All you need is a cookie cutter, red or pink candy melts, and some red sprinkles to take this every day dessert to the next level.

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Valentine’s Rice Krispies Treats
Makes approximately 24 treats

Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
red or pink candy melts

Directions
Melt margarine in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well-blended. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly in buttered 13 x 9 inch pan. Cut the treats into heart shapes with a 2- 3-inch cookie cutter when cool.

Melt the candy melts according to the package directions. Transfer into a plastic bag with a corner cut off for piping. Decorate with sprinkles and let chocolate set before serving. Enjoy!

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When making your treats, don’t crank the heat on the stovetop too high. I get it, you want to get these quick-to-make treats set as soon as possible so you can dig in. High heat is the prime culprit for rock hard Rice Krispies. It will take a few more minutes of cook time, but melt the butter and marshmallows over low heat. You’ll be rewarded with delicious, soft and chewy treats!

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Chocolate Brownie Bites

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I am admittedly a chocoholic. On a perfect day I would have hot chocolate for breakfast, some Lindt chocolates with lunch, a little chocolate pudding as an afternoon snack, and brownies with ice cream for dessert. Thank goodness every day isn’t perfect for me, or else my waist line might be a size or two larger. Last week I read an article saying that a survey found that people should have a daily amount of chocolate equivalent to 1.5 Hershey’s Kisses to reap the benefit of the healthy antioxidants found in chocolate. All of this is well and good, but who really eats 1.5 Hersey’s Kisses? When I sit down to have some chocolate we’re looking at a serving of at least four Hershey’s kisses… at least.

A couple weeks ago I set off on a quest to find the best brownie recipe online. This was no small task being that there were numerous recipes purporting to make the best brownies ever. When thinking about brownies you have one thing to consider. Are you the type of person that enjoys cake-like or fudge-like brownies? One reason I enjoy this recipe is because it meets somewhere in the middle between the two extremes. I also like this recipe because as opposed to the typical brownie bar, you get tiny brownie bites. The little bites are really easy to transport to a party or a picnic in a plastic container.

Chocolate Brownie Bites
Makes approximately 16 brownie bites

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Brownie Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Generously grease and flour a mini muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Drop batter into muffin tins, filling halfway. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To make frosting, melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave. Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm. Decorate brownies as desired.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s important that you don’t over-mix your batter. To help with this, make sure you beat your eggs before adding them to the mixture. This way they will combine easily with butter and sugar without requiring you to mix more than needed.

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Pumpkin Tiramisu

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all that we have in our lives. It’s a time of family. A time of reflection. A time of giving. And a time of stuffing!

This year Matt and I spent our first Thanksgiving together in Ann Arbor. Although we attempted to scale our meal back to a portion suitable for two, our refrigerator is stuffed with leftovers suitable for an entire weeks’ worth of Thanksgiving dinners. Our meal included some inspiration from New Orleans (where Matt’s alma mater is located), with BBQ shrimp. It even included a macaroni and cheese bake-off—although the winner is still in dispute. Overall, it was a lovely day filled with many first times and memories in the making.

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Last year, I shared with you my list of things I was most thankful for in 2012. In keeping with tradition, I have decided to do the same this year. In no particular order, here are five things I am thankful for in the past year.

1. Love—for letting me feel what it means to be truly alive.
2. Good health—for enabling me to live each day to the fullest.
3. Tears—for helping me express my deepest emotions.
4. Friends and family—for being my closest companions in life.
5. My mind—for the ability to think, store memories, and create new solutions.

No Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without dessert. This year I tried a new recipe from one of my coworkers for pumpkin tiramisu. This recipe won the fall baking competition at work, and after your first bite you will immediately know why. With layers of pumpkin-mascarpone, custard, and gingersnaps brushed with Calvados syrup, the flavors and textures form a deliciously creamy dessert.

Pumpkin Tiramisu Recipe

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Ingredients
3 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from 1 1/2 envelopes)
2 tablespoons water
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 quart whole milk
one 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pound mascarpone (2 cups)
3 tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy
1 1/4 pounds gingersnaps, 1/4 pound finely crushed

Directions
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks, cornstarch, salt and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until the sugar is moistened. In a large saucepan, heat the milk just until steaming. Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Pour the mixture into the milk in the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until boiling and thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the gelatin, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisk in the mascarpone.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the Calvados with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar at high power for 10 seconds, just until the sugar is dissolved.

Arrange one-third of the whole gingersnaps in a 9-by-13-by-2 1/2-inch baking dish. Lightly brush the gingersnaps with some of the Calvados and top with one-third of the pumpkin custard. Repeat the layering twice more with the remaining whole gingersnaps, Calvados and custard. Sprinkle half of the crushed gingersnaps on top and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the tiramisù. Freeze overnight.

Let the tiramisù stand at room temperature for 6 hours, until thawed. Sprinkle with the remaining gingersnaps. Serve.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Thanksgiving is a busy time and this dessert can be made in advance to save you some time in the kitchen on the big day. The pumpkin tiramisù can be frozen for up to 1 week. Thaw at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.