Nutella Fudge Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Nutella Fudge Brownies! If you haven’t been introduced to Nutella lately, allow me to take a moment to introduce you. Nutella is a distant cousin to peanut butter, the difference being its two main ingredients of heart-healthy hazelnuts and nutritious cocoa chocolate. Like peanut butter, portion control is key. That being said, love it or leave it. A little Nutella goes a long way, in my opinion. I topped a batch of fudge brownies with Nutella frosting and crushed salted pretzels for a super-yummy dessert. I have grandkids, after all, and my job is to spoil them silly.

NUTELLA FUDGE BROWNIES

Ingredients for Pretzel Crust:

1 1/2 cup pretzels

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8″x8″ square pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Using a food processor, pulse pretzels into small pieces. Add brown sugar and pulse until mixed. Pour in melted butter and continue until mixed. Press pretzel mixture into prepared pan. Bake 12-14 minutes until crust is firm. Remove and set aside.

Ingredients for Fudge Brownies:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Ingredients for Frosting:

1/3-1/2 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Crushed pretzels for garnish

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In a larger mixing bowl, combine sugar and melted butter, stirring thoroughly. Add one egg. Mix well. Repeat with second egg. Add vanilla extract and 1/3 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread. Stir until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing well. Pour batter onto prepared crust. Spread evenly. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow fudge brownies to cool 30 minutes. Frost with Nutella Hazelnut Spread, according to taste. Garnish with crushed pretzel pieces and sea salt.

Peanut Butter Fudge

Experience the Holidays: Peanut Butter Fudge! Once a year, my mother would send me a batch of her homemade peanut butter fudge. And, truthfully, I seldom shared it. Not because I was selfish, because it was THAT good! Now that she is no longer able to give me that glorious care package, I have assumed her role for others. The baton has been passed so the family tradition continues. Every peanut butter-lover should try some for yourself. One bite of this melt-in-your-mouth creamy fudge may lead you start a tradition to “Pay it Forward”.

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

1 teaspoon vanilla

7-ounce jar marshmallow creme

Instructions:

Combine butter, sugar, and milk in a 2-quart pan. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for four minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Be sure to scrape sides as well. Remove from heat. Work quickly stirring in peanut butter until completely melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into greased 9″x13″ pan. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares.

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies! Mention the word “cheesecake” and wait for an automatic human response. It might be a low sensuous moan or perhaps a catch of breath. Either way, the reaction is suggestive of a rewarding self-indulgence. Add chocolate for a superb combination. Now you can make your own bite-size cheesecake cookie that is worthy of bakery status. The cookie becomes a soft crust for the creamy vanilla filling. Can you imagine? If so, you’re only a few steps away from making it a dream-come-true.

DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

18-ounce box Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake mix

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Ingredients for Filling:

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat butter, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add kosher salt and prepared chocolate cake mix. Thoroughly blend together, scraping sides, as needed. Refrigerate dough for one hour. While cookie dough is chilling, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Form tablespoon-size portions into a ball. Make an indentation in the center. Place onto ungreased baking sheet. Fill with one teaspoon of cream cheese filling. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake until edges are set, about 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely, about 20 minutes, before removing from baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh strawberries.

Zucchini Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Zucchini Brownies! There’s only one reason you ever need to mention the title of this dessert, and that is to avoid a food allergy to zucchini. Honestly, most people will raise their nose and never give it a chance if they know it’s in there. You cannot taste it. To prove it, I served this sweet treat to adults as well as kids. I heard comments like, “That fudge is super amazing!” These brownies are truly rich and fudgy, not to mention packed with healthy nutrients. Go for it.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time for one minute each, until the mixture is light and creamy. Gently stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until just blended together. Fold in the grated zucchini. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes. Brownies are done when center is set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with tiny crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

X-treme Fudge Bouchons

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: X-Treme Fudge Bouchons! These chocolate fudge brownies are the perfect bite-size dessert at the end of a meal. Because they are baked in a popover pan, their shape resembles a cork, or French bouchon. The dense chocolatey cake is filled with rich dark chocolate morsels and dusted with powdered sugar making it an appealing dessert, no matter the occasion. Picnic season is upon us. Treat yourself to a taste of France.

X-TREME FUDGE BOUCHONS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour

1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces butter, unsalted and melted

6 ounces semisweet mini chocolate morsels

Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour popover pan. Set aside. Sift together flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and kosher salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes. It will appear thick and very pale in color. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce to low speed alternating 1/3 of dry ingredients, then 1/3 of warm butter until all is blended. Add semisweet chocolate morsels. Place popover pan on a baking sheet and fill each mold two-thirds full. Place in the oven. Bake for 25-28 minutes until tops look shiny and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack for 3 minutes. Invert mold and allow bouchons to cool upside down. Lift off popover pan. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Peanut Butter Fudge

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Peanut Butter Fudge! Once a year, my mother would send me a batch of her homemade peanut butter fudge. And, truthfully, I seldom shared it. Not because I was selfish, because it was THAT good! Now that she is no longer able to give me that glorious care package, I have assumed her role for others. The baton has been passed so the family tradition continues. Every peanut butter-lover should try some for yourself. One bite of this melt-in-your-mouth creamy fudge may lead you start a tradition to “Pay it Forward”.

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy

1 teaspoon vanilla

7-ounce jar marshmallow creme

Instructions:

Combine butter, sugar, and milk in a 2-quart pan. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for four minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Be sure to scrape sides as well. Remove from heat. Work quickly stirring in peanut butter until completely melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into greased 9″x13″ pan. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares.

Upscale Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Upscale Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse! Americans have this uncanny obsession with chocolate and peanut butter. Some even crave it often. It may be the creamy sweetness of cocoa blended with the saltiness of roasted peanuts. Who knows? Whatever the reason, the allure is undeniable. Throw in vanilla pudding and whipped cream showcased in a parfait glass for eye appeal. It all adds up to an easy, upscale dessert that makes an everyday experience extraordinary. I find small juice glasses an appealing portion-control guide.

UPSCALE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE

Ingredients:

16-20 Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, wrappers removed and candy chopped

1/3 cup peanuts

1/2 cup chocolate fudge sauce

1 3.4-ounce package Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling Mix

1 3/4 cups light cream

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup whipped topping

1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Choose 4-6 glasses or cups, depending on portion preferred. Divide peanuts equally between glasses. Layer with 1-2 dollops of chocolate fudge sauce. Set aside. In a chilled bowl, empty contents of pudding mix. Gradually add 1/2 cup light cream, beating on low speed with a hand mixer. Mix until well blended. Add peanut butter and beat until creamy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/4 cups of light cream. Beat on low, increasing speed as it incorporates. Continue beating for 3 minutes. Pudding will thicken. Gently fold in whipped topping to create air bubbles. Next, fold in chopped candy, reserving a few pieces to use as garnish. Spoon pudding into glasses, layering over fudge sauce. Garnish with candy chunks and mini chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Eagle Brand Chocolate Fudge Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Eagle Brand Chocolate Fudge Sauce! Have you had your chocolate “fix” today? This homemade sauce can be served over ice cream, banana splits, fresh fruit, pound cake, or even drizzled into your morning coffee. The secret ingredient, Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, is really no secret. It has been around since 1856. Truth. It was originally invented as a safe and wholesome milk product for the military. The fact that it provided nourishment for infants and children was a bonus. Besides, when Elsie the Cow became the spokes-cow at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, its popularity spread all over the globe. Every kitchen pantry should keep a can or two on the shelf.

EAGLE BRAND CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a 2-quart glass measuring cup, combine sweetened condensed milk, chocolate morsels, butter, and water. Microwave on High power for a total of 3 minutes, stirring at one-minute increments. Add almond extract and vanilla extract. Microwave 30 seconds longer. Stir until smooth. Serve warm. Pour extra sauce into a jar; cover, and refrigerate.

Frangelico Fudge Topping

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Frangelico Fudge Topping! It may have been awhile, but the smooth taste of Frangelico Italian liqueur is not forgotten. Need I remind you it has the same hints of chocolate and toasted hazelnut you practically eat out of a jar? Think Nutella, silly. If it were a cocktail, it would go by this name, with an added punch of alcohol. And since we’re talking dessert, let’s move on to this amazing fudge topping that works on anything from ice cream to waffles. Now I’ve got your attention.

FRANGELICO FUDGE TOPPING

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups sugar

12-ounces evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur

Instructions:

Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and Frangelico liqueur. Stir well. Serve immediately over desserts or waffles. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.