Easy Fudgy Mint Walnut Brownie Recipe

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

Here it is, a scrumptious fudgy brownie recipe that’s loaded with minty flavor and LOADS of walnuts. It’s easy to make, you don’t need a mixer, and it’s a wonderful dessert.

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Fudgy Mint Walnut Brownies

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup [113 grams] unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces [120 grams] mint chocolate, coarsely chopped

11/4 cups [250 grams] granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup cocoa powder [sift into flour]

1/2 cup [65 grams] all purpose flour [sift]

1/2 cup [65 grams] chopped raw walnuts

1 teaspoon peppermint extract OR approx. 20 drops of peppermint Essential Oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit [165 degrees Celsius] and place the rack in the center of the oven. The 8 or 9 inch square baking pan can be buttered [use the butter wrapper] or sprayed with a non stick cooking spray.

In a glass or stainless steel  bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and whisk in the bowl containing the sugar. Pour in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter will be smooth. Stir in the premixed and sifted cocoa powder and flour. Add the peppermint extract or essential oil. Lastly, add half the chopped walnuts. Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. Add the rest of the walnuts on top.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Rotate pan midway through baking. The brownies will be done when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out with a few wet crumbs. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

TIPS:

I suggest sifting the flour and cocoa powder together first. Presifted flour also makes your brownies a bit smoother and easier to mix.

If using pure peppermint essential oil, make sure it only contains mentha piperita. That’s the Latin name for the plant. Genuine peppermint essential oil is very concentrated that’s why you measure by drops, not grams or teaspoons. The brand I used in this video is the real deal and I bought it on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V5C97LK

This recipe is from my book Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide.

To watch my video, just go here:

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French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 5: More Chocolate Ganache Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

My quest for baking the perfect chocolate macaron continued. They needed to have feet but also be smooth and shiny. By adding less cocoa powder, my second bath was easier to mix. The egg whites “aged” overnight, about 12 hours. But I slightly underwhipped them, which was a first. After the macaronnage, I added the batter to the piping bag and closed the top with a rubber band to avoid spillage. It worked, although by the time I piped the last shell, the remaining batter was threatening to ooze out of the top. 

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Just piped chocolate macarons

The macarons didn’t set up right away – I had to wait about 30 minutes. Later, I realized that both trays should have rested for at least 45 minutes.

This time, the oven temperature was lower, 300 degrees. I’e since learned that chocolate needs to bake around 350 degrees. Also, the baking time should’ve been longer. One tray was in the oven for 19 minutes and the other 20. Afterwards, I realized they could’ve baked another two minutes longer in both cases because I wasn’t able to easily remove them from the parchment paper. However, using 20/20 hindsight, chocolate macarons should bake for about 12 – 14 minutes at 350 degrees.

While both trays showed macarons with feet, they were in the small side and the shells were hollow. At first, the macs looked like they’d have smooth, glossy tops, but after they emerged from the oven they deflated a bit and had irregular shaped tops.

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Out of the oven — a bit underbaked

Unlike the first batch of chocolate macarons, the texture was lighter and airier – not like brownies or biscotti.

The chocolate ganache filling was easy to make. I chopped up a Valrhona bar [71% cacao content] trying not to eat any of it. Note: next time I’ll try the Valrhona 46% feves! For 50 seconds, the heavy cream went into the microwave and when poured over the chunks the melting began. I whisked it for a few strokes and then added the room temperature butter and vanilla extract. Soon it was successfully mixed and sampled. Way better than the first batch. Nothing like using a high quality chocolate bar, heavy cream and imported butter! Yes, I could taste the difference between this and the previous batch made with chocolate chips. The richness was so apparent.

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Chocolate macarons with ganache filling

Due to being underbaked, the shells stuck to the parchment and I used a spatula to remove them. Some of them were really cracked and messy looking but I managed to salvage them into sloppy and unphotographable macs. They tasted good when consumed that day. However, the next day and the day after that the macarons tasted much better.

NEXT WEEK: More adventures as I bake scrumptious French Vanilla Bean Macarons.

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Boxed Set Friday – The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Books 1 – 3 by Lisa Maliga

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2015

Boxed Set: The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Books 1 – 3 lisa maliga ebooksI’ll admit I’m partial to boxed sets, a/k/a box sets. This is beneficial for the reader, as they can have access to a series or serial. Boxed sets are usually more cost efficient and space efficient, as you don’t have to flip from one eBook to another since they’re conveniently bundled into one file.

Before publishing my boxed set, I learned that I needed two different covers due to some online bookstores not wanting the standard three-dimensional type of cover. A non 3-D cover was the norm for some stores so that customers wouldn’t get confused into thinking they were buying actual paperback books housed in a box. Once I learned that the reason behind iTunes and Smashwords preferring a standard “flat” type of cover, I found another cover artist to design the second type of cover. Here it is:

yolanda's yummery series boxed set books 1-3 lisa maliga

I was pleased with this flat type of cover design and like it as much as the 3-D version.

I’ve noticed more boxed sets being published and I think that’s a wonderful idea. So, each Friday I’d like to highlight a boxed set whether by one author or a group of authors. Your boxed set can be on sale, free or whatever price you choose.

Want to have a special blog post dedicated to your boxed set? Send me an email and include the buy links. Once the blog has been posted on Friday, you’ll have your own boxed set page and can promote it anywhere you’d like. Your name and the title of your boxed set will be in the subject heading, making it keyword-friendly.

Just send an email to: lisa_maliga@msn.com Please use “Boxed Set Friday” in the subject heading.

Below is an example of how your page will look. If you have two different covers, I can include both of them. You can send me a longer book description. Also, if you have any fun facts about the boxed set that you’d like to share, please include them in your introductory paragraph.

Title: Boxed Set: The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Books 1 -3 

Author: Lisa Maliga

Brief Description: This collection of sweet romance/cozy mystery eBooks contains 3 full-length novels plus a chapter to the novella that started it all: Sweet Dreams. Best of all, it’s value priced! 

Genre: Sweet Romance/Cozy Mystery

Amazon US link: http://www.amazon.com/Boxed-Set-Yolandas-Yummery-Series-ebook/dp/B00T8JKSMO

All other links: http://www.lisamaliga.com/boxedsetyolandasyummeryseries.htm

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What’s So Great About Brownies?

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2014-2016

brownies the great brownie taste-off by lisa maliga
Made-from-scratch brownies

There are books on the subject of baking the best brownies, along with dessert cookbooks that dedicate whole sections to brownies. There are websites that offer loads of brownie recipes—some of them quite scrumptious. And in any supermarket or bakery, and you can always buy fresh brownies.

Of course, people will debate whether to make them from scratch or from a mix.

Mixes are easier and definitely faster. They can also be enhanced with added goodies like marshmallows, shredded coconut, caramel, chocolate chips, and nuts. Once you take those brownies out of the oven and they cool off you can frost them and add some sugar sprinkles. Better yet, serve them with a scoop of ice cream–especially in the summertime.

I needed to bake brownies so I could photograph them for blog. Shopping for the mix, I bypassed the usual suspects of Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines for a more expensive alternative, Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix. Like the others, the additives were few—water, vegetable oil and one egg. It also contained a chocolate syrup pouch for added flavor. I’ll admit that the brownies were quite good after they emerged from the oven. They almost tasted like homemade brownies. Almost. The brownies in my book are baked from scratch and require a little more work than a mix brownie. Admittedly, they are more flavorful!

When you bake from scratch, you have total control over all the ingredients from the flour to the sugar to the type of chocolate and/or powdered cocoa you use. That was the fun part of making the brownies as I could use farm fresh eggs and my preferred Valrhona chocolate. While I’m not a pastry chef or even a baker, I really got to understand my main character a lot better after making “from scratch” brownies. I even tweaked the ingredients and baked a few other batches to make sure I got the recipe right!

If you like to read about bakers, or romantic fiction, check out The Great Brownie Taste-off. It’s the first book in the Yolanda’s Yummery series. Yolanda Carter is a self-taught baker who dreams of owning her own bakery, a/k/a yummery. Employed at a small cat shelter, she stumbles across a scheme that threatens all the employees and cats. Will her magical brownies save them? 

BONUS ~ Includes the winning brownie recipe! 

Read more about it here: The Great Brownie Taste-off  [FREE eBook!]

great brownie taste-off yolanda's yummery series book 1 free ebook

Introducing…The Great Brownie Taste-off!

By Lisa Maliga Copyright 2014

I’ve discovered something funny about writing romance books – I like ’em sweet. Literally. In my first, Sweet Dreams, the cover art shows an original photograph of brightly colored [and incredibly sweet and fruity] French macarons. These sandwich-type cookies are small and delicate but oh so worth it! Subtle hint: try one…or a few!

brownies the great brownie taste-off by lisa maliga
Yummy brownies!

But how do I go from macarons to the classic and better known dessert of brownies? Well, I didn’t plan it. In fact, I thought I was writing the first book of the romance series, which is about cakes, not brownies. Even though I was following a detailed outline, the brownie angle took over and so I went with it. The first book of the Yolanda’s Yummery series establishes how this yummery [bakery] came into existence. Here’s what The Great Brownie Taste-off is about…

Yolanda Carter comes from a family of artisans and lives in her deceased grandparent’s cottage in Sherman Oaks, California. She works at a small cat shelter but dreams of owning a bakery. Her friend from high school, Teagan Mishkin, knows that Yolanda needs money and suggests better paying work as a cocktail waitress. The interview takes an unexpected turn and she stumbles across a scheme to close down the cat shelter. The plan Yolanda concocts may be the only way to save the shelter. Helped by her parents, coworkers and friends, a rising young blogger also takes an interest in her plight. Will she bake the best brownies of her life?

BONUS ~ Includes the winning brownie recipe!

Amazon link: The Great Brownie Taste-off [FREE!]

great brownie taste-off yolanda's yummery series book 1 free ebookNEW! PAPERBACK LINK: The Great Brownie Taste-off

Amazon UK link: The Great Brownie Taste-off [FREE!]

B&N NOOK link: The Great Brownie Taste-off [FREE!]

Kobo link: The Great Brownie Taste-off [FREE!]

Smashwords link: The Great Brownie Taste-off [FREE!]

brownies great brownie taste-off yolanda's yummery series

Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix Review

By Lisa Maliga

Photograph and text copyright 2014-2016

It was an impulse purchase this box of brownie mix. I needed to bake brownies so I could photograph them for my next eBook cover. So I bypassed the usual suspects of Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines for the more expensive alternative, Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix. Like the others, the additives were few—water, vegetable oil and just one egg. It also contained a chocolate syrup pouch for added flavor—something I always appreciate. The one thing I couldn’t do was add any walnuts as the brownies featured in my book are sans nuts or any other type of fun ingredients like marshmallows, shredded coconut, caramel or even frosting. But that’s okay because a true brownie will taste marvelous no matter how simple the ingredients are. And the brownies in my book are baked from scratch but they do require a bit more work than a mix brownie.

Now if you’re short on time and want an easy to make brownie, I can highly recommend the Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix. Also, if you’re a fan of buttery brownies, I suggest you grease the baking pan with butter instead of using cooking spray.

Ghirardelli kindly includes such valuable tips as not overbaking brownies. To many of you, that may be a no-brainer. To me it’s a major issue as I love soft and chewy cookies and especially slightly underbaked brownies as they tend to be heavy. However, if you want a thicker, heavier brownie they suggest adding two eggs and less water.

Being impressed with Ghirardelli’s brownie mix isn’t a surprise. I enjoy their chocolate, especially their peppermint bark. For more information about this well named brownie mix, here’s the page: http://www.ghirardellibrownies.com/products/chocolate-supreme.aspx

Like to read about brownies, bakeries, and romance? If so, check out this FREE ebook, The Great Brownie Taste-off!

brownies great brownie taste-off yolanda's yummery series
This is how they turned out!