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-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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As much as I love spending time in the kitchen baking, there is one part of the process that I really detest. I hate going to the grocery store. I’ve hated grocery stores and grocery shopping all my life. My list of complaints could go on forever—from inadequate parking, to confusing store layouts and poor food selection—it seems as though the deck is always stacked against me when I walk through those sliding doors.

Given my grocery store-averse personality, I often plan my desserts around what ingredients I have at home. If a recipe requires only a few items that I don’t have, I’ll prioritize that recipe over one where I’d need to purchase more items. All this leads us to these delicious coconut macaroons. What inspired me to bake these cookies? I only needed two items from the grocery store—an obvious win in my book.

So let’s chat about these cookies a little bit. Coconut can be a pretty polarizing ingredient when it comes to desserts. If you aren’t a fan of coconut, steer clear of these little beauties. I brought these cookies into work this week for a baby shower. I usually do most of my baking on the weekend when I have more leisure time. When it comes to work-week baking projects, I’m always on the lookout for something that comes together rather quickly. These cookies take about 15 minutes of prep work and need about 15 minutes in the oven. It doesn’t get any easier!

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups melted semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, coconut and salt. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla using your hands until well blended. Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about golf ball size.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is toasted. Once cooled, dip cookies in melted chocolate and cool completely on waxed paper.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I chilled my mixture for 15 minutes before baking. This helps things firm up a little bit and produces a rounder shaped macaroon that is perfect for dipping in chocolate!

Homemade Pop Tarts

As a Minnesota girl at heart, the heat and humidity of summer can feel a bit oppressive at times. I’m usually okay up to about 80 degrees, but anything beyond that is just… hot. Add in some humidity and I’m far from a happy camper. The heat and humidity have both settled on Ann Arbor recently, and it leaves me dreaming of mild autumn days. That being said, the hot days of summer do bring some things that I love. Matt and I recently went camping which was great, and who doesn’t love s’mores cooked over a campfire?! We also went on a kayaking adventure, which (minus one tip over) was a fun time. The passing of the summer solstice also reminded me that summer never lasts forever. The change is ever so slight, but I can already tell it’s a little less light when I wake up for my early morning workouts.

But enough about the passing of the seasons. Let’s talk about revamping a classic breakfast “dessert” many of us love. When I was growing up, I never ate Pop Tarts for breakfast or even as a snack. It wasn’t until later in life that I tried one and I was far from impressed. This homemade version elevates Pop Tarts from a simple “meh” to a definite “wow” factor. While you can’t stick these in a traditional toaster, you could pop them in a toaster oven. However, I think you’ll find they are just as delicious at room temperature. I made these to bring to a brunch and I found myself wishing that I had some left over to snack on when we got back home!

Homemade Pop Tarts
Original Recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

Pastry Ingredients 
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

Cinnamon Filling Ingredients
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Directions
For step-by-step directions along with beautiful pictures, check out the original recipe at Smitten Kitchen. You will also find some suggestions for alternative fillings such as chocolate and jam.

Heather’s Helpful Hints 
There is a fine art to rolling out pastry dough that only comes with practice. I’m still learning as I go along but have found two things that always help with the process. First, always work with well-chilled pastry; otherwise, the dough will stick to the counter and tear. Second, never roll out dough by rolling back and forth over the same section. Each time you press on the same spot, more gluten develops that can toughen the dough.

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.

OREO Turtle Cheesecake

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“I want cheesecake for my birthday! Can you make some…PLEEEEASE?”

This is the annual request that I get from Matthew on his birthday. It’s a request that (most of the time) I am more than happy to oblige. The exception being last year when I decided to forgo making a birthday cheesecake—an unfortunate occurrence that he has reminded me of several times over the past year.

Having failed at my birthday cheesecake duty last year, I wanted to make something unique and special this year. It’ll be hard to top my favorite which was a Sweet Potato Cheesecake that I made a couple of years ago. However, inspiration struck one day during my weekly grocery run to Meijer. OREO cookies are one of Matt’s favorites, and I thought why not try and incorporate them into a cheesecake?!

This delectable cheesecake boasts an OREO cookie crust topped with a nutty layer of caramel and a classic cheesecake filling. Drizzles of melted chocolate and caramel-pecan sauce finish it off in style. This cheesecake takes a little more work than your basic recipe, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

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The Ultimate OREO Turtle Cheesecake
Makes approximately 12 servings

Ingredients
24 OREO cookies, finely crushed
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 (14 ounce) package caramels
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate

Directions
Place racks in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan.

Microwave caramels and milk in a microwaveable bowl on high for 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after each minute. Stir in nuts; pour half into crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over caramel layer in crust.

Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Microwave reserved caramel mixture 1 minute; stir. Pour over cheesecake. Melt chocolate; drizzle over cheesecake.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Be sure to use a cookie sheet under your springform pan when baking in the oven. The caramel may ooze out during baking and this way it won’t get your oven dirty.

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