Where do you stand in The Great Brownie Debate? Are you Pro-Fudgy or Pro-Cakey?
Much like chocolate chip cookies, everyone has their own idea on what makes a perfect brownie. There are all kinds of characteristics that come into play, but Fudgy and Cakey are the two major headings that everything else falls under. A brownie can be dense, rich, and fudge-like or it can be light and cake-like. In some instances, a brownie may even fall somewhere in between.
Fudgy has many followers, but there are those who remain true to Cakey as well. People are passionate about their brownie texture. Trying to convert a Fudgy fan to Cakey would be like trying to change a Democrat to a Republican or vise versa.
When winter winds down, you can feel it in the air. You can almost smell it coming. Your instincts take over, and you know.
It’s Girl Scout Cookie Season.
Girl Scout Cookies are America’s guilty pleasure. We all love to indulge in a few from time to time (or, you know, a boxful). I don’t know what it is about those Girl Scouts, but they sure know how to make tasty cookies. Plus, there’s such a plethora of tantalizing flavors that it’s impossible not to find one you like. Personally, my top 3 are Tagalongs, Samoas, and Thin Mints. I order a couple boxes of each to keep me going for a while (or at least a week).
Now, once you get past the initial stuff-my-face-oh-my-god-I’ve-missed-you-girl-scout-cookies stage, you start to crave more. Maybe you buy that Girl Scout Cookie flavored ice cream from the store. Or perhaps you find a way to work them into all three meals of the day. Me, I always aim to bake with the things I love. So really, the birth of these Girl Scout Cookie-Stuffed Brownies was only natural.
Who doesn’t love a good brownie? Fudgy, rich, and decadent, they are a truly beloved dessert. Make ‘em with dark cocoa powder, and you’ve got some seriously dark and indulgent treats. The only way they could be improved upon is to literally stuff whole Girl Scout Cookies into the brownies’ fudgy interiors. Oh, and a delicious glaze never hurts. This is the sweetest form of sin. Can dessert be heavenly and devilish? Try one of these brownies and you’ll know the answer to that one.
I used two of my favorites for these treats: Tagalongs and Samoas. However, just about any of the Girl Scout Cookies will work beautifully, so pick your favorite. Then, once my brownies were stuffed and baked, I topped them with coordinating glazes. So, for the Tagalongs, I did a creamy peanut butter glaze. For the Samoas, I did a caramel-coconut glaze. The topping acts as a little hint for the cookie you’re about to discover buried beneath the brownie’s dark depths. It’s the perfect finishing touch, like frosting on a cake or butter on a biscuit.
Love Girl Scout Cookies? Then you’re going to fall in love with these dark, decadent brownies. Two delicious treats fused into one, it’s almost too good to be true. Best of all, they’re so simple to make. And yet, anybody who tries one will be so impressed. It’s our little secret.
Excuse me, but I’ve got to go sink my teeth into one of these brownies. There’s a Tagalong just begging to get out.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
If you plan to use different flavored cookies for the filling, then you’ll need a different glaze.
If you’re using Thin Mints, do a drizzle of hot fudge. You can even add a drop of mint extract to it.
If you’re using Do-Si-Do’s, stick with the PB glaze.
If you’re using Tresfoils, you could do the hot fudge glaze, the PB glaze, or a plain caramel glaze.
Don’t feel like making the brownie batter from scratch? Go ahead and use a boxed mix.
You can make these using one kind of cookie or all of them if you wish. It’s up to you!
If you’re making multiple flavors, make sure you designate which brownies are which before baking. I had some issues with that and wound up having the cut into some of them to recall what kind of cookie they had before glazing them.
Watch the video above to see how to make these babies step-by-step!
Girl Scout Cookie-Stuffed By the Smart Cookie Cook
Yield: about 18 brownies
One batch brownie batter, recipe follows (or use a store-bought mix)
18 Girl Scout Cookies of your choice (I used Tagalongs and Samoas)
For the brownie batter: Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dark Baking Cocoa (like Hershey’s) or Dutch Process Cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Make the brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin/cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and baking cocoa, but be gentle. Overmixing produces cakey brownies. Set aside.
In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the sugar until completely dissolved. Stir warm sugar mixture into cocoa mixture just until combined. Gently stir in flour until just combined.
Using a ladle or an ice cream scoop, pour about a tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. It should be about 1/4-1/3 full. Then place one cookie into the center of each and cover with another dollop of brownie batter. They should wind up being 2/3 – 3/4 full. Note: if you are making different flavors of cookies, make sure you designate which brownies are which before baking so you know which glaze to use on them.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.
Let brownies rest for five minutes then gently remove them from the muffin tins and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
When the brownies are cool, make the glaze(s).
For Tagalong-stuffed brownies, make the peanut butter glaze: Whisk warm, melted butter together with the peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Using a fork or a condiment dispenser, drizzle glaze onto brownies.
For Samoa-stuffed brownies, make the coconut-caramel glaze: Drizzle caramel syrup onto each brownie. Sprinkle with coconut.
For Thin Mint-stuffed brownies, make the mint chocolate glaze: Heat fudge in the microwave just until warm. Whisk in mint extract. Using a fork or a condiment dispenser, drizzle glaze onto brownies.
For Do-Si-Do-stuffed brownies, make the peanut butter glaze (see Tagalong-stuffed brownies above).
For Tresfoils-stuffed brownies, make either the peanut butter glaze (see Tagalong-stuffed brownies above), a plain caramel glaze (using the caramel sundae syrup), or a plain chocolate glaze (using the hot fudge).
Store in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before eating. Enjoy!
Some of the most incredible foods in the culinary world are hybrids, a product of two foods fused into one. Take for example pumpkin pie cheesecake, buffalo chicken pizza, French Toast Cupcakes, or S’mores Ice Cream. It’s only natural to join two things we love together, especially when we as humans can be quite indecisive creatures (well…I am at least). One of my favorite food fusions is the brownie cookie. It’s everything you love above a fudgy brownie in the form of a handheld cookie. The two head honchos of desserts (the cookie and the brownie) decided they weren’t quite awesome enough on their own, and that they should work together as one.
Teamwork is such a beautiful thing.
My Tri-Chocolate Bookies are the lovechild of a fudgy brownie and a snackable cookie (brownie + cookie = bookie). They look like cookies, and you can hold them in your hand easily (unlike crumbly brownies). However, when you bite in, you find this crazy soft and fudgy center that perfectly resembles the interior of a brownie. It messes with your mind a little. Are you eating a cookie? A brownie? IS THIS REAL LIFE?
What will a waffle maker want when waffles won’t work?
It’s a riddle. And a tongue twister.
The answer: BROWNIES.
At the risk of stating the obvious, brownies are such a wonderful treat, even in their most basic form. Almost every loves brownies. They’re soft and comforting, like a delicious chocolate bear who decided he wanted to be friends and encased you in an embrace of sweet love. If a bear like that ever came up to you requesting a hug, would you turn him away? Of course not, just as you would never pass up a perfectly good brownie.
However, there is always a way to make fantastic things even more fantastical. In the case of brownies, you can swirl in some peanut butter, throw in some nuts, or maybe add a layer of cookie dough if you’re feeling adventurous. What’s my latest and greatest way of serving up these chocolatey treats?
No typo here, my little cookies. This is a bookie: a cookie-brownie hybrid. I’ve also seen these referred to “brookies,” but that’s not a very linguistically pleasing word. Bookie is much more fun to say.
If you’re anything like me, then choosing between cookies and brownies is tough. Cookies are so snackable* and delicious, but brownies are so chocolatey and decadent. How does one choose? The better question is, why should you have to?
That is why this Giant Triple Chocolate Bookie and I are BFF’s. I get the best of both worlds: a giant cookie that’s essentially the size of my head stuffed with two kinds of chocolate chips and chunks, and yielding such fudgy, soft, rich qualities that I can’t decide if it’s truly a cookie or a brownie.
Last week’s decadent Triple Chocolate Brownie Pie brought me an unforeseen blessing: leftover brownie batter. Now, some people might look upon that bowl of batter and think, “Great. What am I going to do with this?” But I never see extra food as a bad thing, especially when it comes to brownie batter. So what did I do with that liquid chocolate gold? I baked it into cute handheld bites of course.
You see, the problem with traditional brownies is that they aren’t always easy to eat with your hands. Often times, they can be crumbly or cut into unmanageable squares that are best tackled on a plate with a fork. These chocolatey cuties, however, are for brownie lovers on the go. Munch away at these moist and tasty treats without the aid of a fork and plate. You can do some laundry, drive to work, or keep one hand on the remote while watching The Bachelor, all while chowing down on one of these petite brownies. It’s the way to go, my little cookies.
Brownie’s life was blessed. She had everything a baked good could want. She had adoring fans, good looks, and she was lavishly rich (rich and fudgy, that is). But despite all this, Brownie was unhappy. She felt a constant void within her chocolatey core, calling out for something beyond her seemingly perfect life. Outsiders wondered how she could possibly be unsatisfied. When Brownie passed by, the gossiping Cupcakes would whisper speculations to one another, proposing far-fetched possibilities like a lack of love from her parents. On the contrary, Brownie had very supportive parents. But even they didn’t know what to do to please their daughter.
As Brownie matured from a tiny brownie bite to a fully baked choice-cut from a thick 9 by 9 pan, the insatiable longing within her grew stronger still. Her best friend, an over-sized chocolate chip cookie from a posh bakery, tried to cheer her up, but couldn’t understand what Brownie was so upset about in the first place. It wasn’t something Brownie could explain, no matter how many times she tried.
It seemed that Brownie would go through the rest of her shelf-life feeling like something was missing. She had almost given up hope entirely, until one fateful day changed it all. She was watching a baker put together a pie. The baker mixed up a filling that seemed delicious enough on its own. Then he poured it into a buttery crust, a crib to cradle the precious pie filling and complete the delicious dessert.
And it was then Brownie knew exactly what she had been missing.
For many people, ice cream is a modern day link to nostalgic memories of a carefree childhood. It’s one of life’s few pleasures that is just as acceptable to enjoy now as it was when you were a kid (although perhaps not as waist-line friendly). Moreover, ice cream can bring out that same pure excitement that it used to. It appeals to your inner-child, a part of you that never really went away.
I have a vivid memory of playing in the yard of my childhood home many years ago. I couldn’t have been more than 5 years-old. Evening was just beginning to settle over my quiet neighborhood, and the sky was turning orange as it always did during early summer nights. The street was quiet and still until my mother’s blue van came chugging along, returning from what was likely a trip to the grocery store. I recall running to the car to see her, and she had a special surprise: a carton of Double Fudge Brownie Ice Cream.
I was overcome with glee. Ice cream was a special treat when I was a kid, something I really appreciated; and here was one of my favorite flavors just within arm’s length! I couldn’t wait to dig into the chocolatey ice cream and the chewy brownie pieces. It seemed so decadent, a momentous occasion to be savored. The only bad part was having to wait until after dinner to indulge my feverish childhood desires.
Those childhood desires have turned into feverish young adult desires. The promise of Double Fudge Brownie Ice Cream still brings to me the same elation it did as a child. Call me young at heart, but there’s something so fun about enjoying a bowl of ice cream (or a cone, if that’s more your style). It’s hard to be unhappy when there’s ice cream afoot. Why do you think so many broken hearted souls curl up on the couch with a carton and a spoon?
However, as my adult taste buds developed, I noticed that the “brownies” in store-bought ice cream aren’t all that brownie-like; they’re more like chocolate-flavored clay. Now, I won’t pretend I didn’t still find that ice cream delectable, but I wanted to experience real brownies in my ice cream. When at last an ice cream maker came into my possession, I was provided with an opportunity to do so.
Fudgy, deep, dark, and decadent: these are exactly what a brownie should be. But then again, it’s hard to go wrong when it come to brownies, right?
For years, I’ve been on an epic brownie journey, combing through the culinary world for the perfect recipe. You’d think it’d be hard to make a bad brownie, but apparently, it’s pretty easy. I tried brownie recipes that hardened into bricks in the oven (you know, the kind you break your teeth on), while others morphed into liquid chocolate goo (sounds good until you get a stomach ache after eating it). Despite the plethora of recipes I have experimented with up until this point, I couldn’t find one that exceeded the delicious and reliable fudginess of the boxed mix. I know, that sounds preposterous coming from someone who prefers scratch-made everything, but everything has an exception.
Well, my little cookies, my brownie future was looking quite bleak until I stumbled upon this recipe on FoodNetwork.com. It’s an Ina Garten original, and I was immediately intrigued by the 5-star rating from almost 500 reviewers. Although I don’t make a lot of Ina’s recipes and I didn’t know what to expect from her, it was hard to ignore statistics like that. 500 people couldn’t all be wrong, right?
I think science is an extremely important aspect of cooking. That’s why I applied this complex method of utilizing step by step logic to create my recipe:
I love Milky Ways.
I love brownies.
Chocolate and caramel taste really awesome together.
->Therefore, I should merge them into one ultimate dessert.
And thus, Milky Way Caramel Brownies were engineered. There’s something special about these guys. They aren’t just rich, fudgy, and infused with a deep chocolate flavor and they aren’t just studded with chewy, gooey, chocolatey Milky Ways (however all of those characteristics are exhibited). You see, I knew the addition Milky Ways would make these brownies yummy, but they needed an extra caramel kick.
So what did I do? I sandwiched an entire layer of gooey caramel into the center of it all.
Thank me later; make these brownies now.
They’re so moist and chewy and decadent, but not too decadent. That balance is key. They’re ridiculously chocolatey, pleasing even the most hardcore of chocoholics. Plus, caramel lovers will die of ecstasy when they discover the sea of caramel weaved into the brownies’ inner-workings. They’re chewy, they’re gooey, and they’re awesome. These are brownies at their best. I’m honored to have been in their presence (and to have eaten two in one sitting…).
If you aren’t convinced, then let us once again apply scientific reasoning. There is a general list of characteristics that I believe every brownie must possess in order to be deemed delicious. That list is as follows:
The existential flaky top layer
Ideally fudgy and moist inner-texture
Intense chocolate flavor
Substantially thick build
So, how do my Milky Way Caramel Brownies stack up to that list?
Check. Had the perfect flakable top layer (is it unscientific to make up words?).
Check. The edges had just the right amount of chew. Personally, I’m not an edge person when it comes to brownies. But these were just right. Heck, I’d even eat a corner!
Check. SO fudgy and SO moist. It was ridiculously decadent, my ideal texture.
Check. CHOCOLATE HEAVEN.
Check. No paper thin brownies for us, my little cookies. These were nice and thick.
There. I think that’s enough convincing for now. Go indulge yourself in some fudgy, caramel-filled browniephoria.
A few tips before you get cooking:
This is not a one-bowl recipe unfortunately. You should have several mixing bowls on hand, ready to rock.
Unwrapping all those caramels takes a while. It felt like forever! You might want to do that ahead of time, as well as chopping the Milky Ways.
This recipe is cut in half, hence why the measurements are awkward. It works out perfectly, I promise! Plus, you can make the full-sized recipe to feed a crowd (or a freakin army).
The brownie recipe itself comes from Ina Garten. I manipulated it to work with the add-ins. Even without the caramel and Milky Way party going on, this would be a heavenly traditional brownie. I highly recommend the recipe.
I don’t have a double boiler so I decided to wing it stove top in one saucepan. It worked totally fine. So, if you’re also lacking a double boiler, you can melt the chocolate and butter together at a low heat as long as your careful. Make sure you constantly stir it so it doesn’t burn!
It is important to let the chocolate cool a little before adding the eggs unless you like scrambled eggs in your brownies. This stuff is in the recipe for a reason.
Buy enough ingredients for a double batch of caramel sauce. Make one for the brownies and one later when you’re ready to serve. Immediately drizzle the hot caramel over your brownies for even more caramel heaven!
Or, if you’re lazy, you could top them with a store-bought caramel ice cream topping.
Speaking of which, this would be divine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Mmm.
PLEASE head my advice and warm the brownie in the microwave. IT MAKES IT SO MUCH BETTER. The caramel becomes melted and molten and you’ll just be really happy.
Milky Way Caramel Brownies
Recipe by Colleen Bierstine, adapted from The Food Network
2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 lb.)
½ lb. semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 extra-large eggs
½ Tbsp. instant coffee powder
1 Tbsp. real vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ Tbsp. baking powder
½ Tbsp. kosher salt
12 oz. fun-sized Milky Ways, chopped
For the Caramel:
1/3 cup heavy cream
14 oz. caramels, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9×9” pan with foil and spray w/ nonstick cooking spray.
Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place half of the Milky Ways into the batter.
Make caramel sauce: Add the caramels and heavy cream to a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until completely melted and smooth.
Immediately poor the caramel sauce over the first layer of batter and Milky Ways. Carefully add the remaining batter and smooth over the caramel.
Then, stick the second half of the Milky Ways into the top layer of batter.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean (baking time may vary). Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake!
When done baking, transfer the pan to a cooling rack. When brownies are completely cool, use the aluminum foil to carefully transfer the brownies out of the pan and onto cooling rack. Carefully peel away the foil. Chill in refrigerator to make cutting easier.
When ready to serve, cut brownies and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds so that caramel melts again.
See all those caramelized Milky Ways sunken into that brownie? See how moist and rich it is? See that layer of caramel? Do you really need another reason to try these?