a balanced plate with room for dessert


Zucchini Brownies

Folks, I’ve found my all-time favorite brownie. And they’re made with zucchini. It may sound gross at first, but trust me… this is one fantastic brownie. Part of me wishes I hadn’t ever made these, because now I can’t stop eating them, making them, or thinking about them.

Still not convinced that these are rock-star brownies? Well, remember this – I really don’t like chocolate. Or desserts. So, the fact that I like love these should be reason enough for you to grab some zukes and get bakin’!

Zucchini Brownies
makes 15 brownies 

For the brownie:
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips or walnuts, optional

For the frosting:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In large bowl, mix together applesauce, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gently stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips or walnuts, if desired.
  4. Spread batter evenly into baking pan. Be warned – the batter at this stage is very hard and crumbly and not batter-like at all.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until brownies spring back when touched. Set pan aside to cool.
  6. To make frosting, microwave butter and cocoa until melted. Stir to combine and set aside to cool. In large bowl, mix together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Mix in cocoa mixture until frosting is smooth.
  7. Spread frosting over cooled brownies and cut into squares.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes

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Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes

I can’t believe it’s been over 3 months since my last post. Life had gotten just a little too crazy for me and sadly, my blog was left unattended to.I swear I have not forgotten about it, and I thank all the people who are still reading. I’m actually surprised that I’m getting this many hits!

A lot has happened in the past 3 months, but the biggest news is… Mike and I are engaged! So, with this upcoming semester, 2 puppies to take care of, and a wedding to plan, I know that I am going to be busy busy busy. My plan? Create as many blog posts as I can between now and Tuesday when classes begin!

I think I”ll start off with these mint filled brownie cupcakes! I saw this recipe on The Busty Baker a while ago, bookmarked it, and promptly forgot about it. Then one day as I was organizing my bookmarks, I found it again and decided to make it. Bookmark organization was abandoned, and these heavenly cupcakes were created.

Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes
copied from The Busty Baker

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
12 small (1 ½-inch) chocolate-covered peppermint patties, such as York Peppermint Patties

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Remove bowl from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth; whisk in eggs to combine. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa until just smooth (do not overmix.)
  3. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each lined cup. Place one peppermint patty on top, gently pressing into batter. Top with 2 tablespoons batter, covering patty completely. Bake, rotating tin halfway through, until a cake tester inserted halfway in centers (above mint patty) comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Mint Frosting
From Joy of
Makes enough to spread a thin layer on 12 cupcakes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or 1-2 tablespoons creme de menthe
green food coloring (optional)

  1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies.

Chocolate Glaze
From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Makes 1 ¼ cups

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

  1. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
  2. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream until totally combined; begin near the center of the bowl and gradually work your way toward the edge, pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. (If any chocolate pieces remain, strain mixture through a fine sieve and discard solids.) If not using immediately, glaze can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. Reheat gently before using.

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Frosted Brownies

I whipped up these brownies when my sister was over for dinner. These turned out great and they are so easy to make! If you are a person who only makes brownies from the box, please try these out. It dirties only 2 bowls and you are very likely to have all the ingredients already! Mike and Becca loved these so much that I just had to make them for a picnic dinner I had with a bunch of friends during Concert on the Square.

Although I love these deep chocolate brownies and these rich chocolate brownies, I think these brownies will be the ones I make when I’m short on time. I mixed these brownies by hand and they came together easily that way. I would suggest hand mixing so that you don’t accidentally over-mix the batter.

Frosted Brownies

Frosted Brownies
makes one 8×8 pan

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
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar. Let cool slightly (so you don’t cook the eggs) and then whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
  3. Mix in the cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 – 25 minutes – be careful not to over bake!
  4. While brownies are baking, make the frosting: combine the butter, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Gently mix in the confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while still warm.

If you want to use a 9×13 pan, double the recipe and bake for 30 minutes.


Rich Chocolate Brownies

Today was probably one of the hottest days so far this summer. After almost fainting from my run, I decided to do something stupid – make brownies. Why is this stupid? Well, I live in an attic apartment with horrible air circulation and no air conditioning. Turning on the oven was probably not the best thing to do. However, I think these were well worth it.

Rich Chocolate Brownies

Rich Chocolate Brownies
makes 16 2-inch brownies

2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking dish with aluminum foil.
  2. Place both types of chocolate and the butter into a microwaveable bowl. Heat in 15 second intervals, stirring after each one until smooth.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla until the eggs are a light yellow, about 2 minutes.
  4. Mix in the chocolate mixture until well combined.
  5. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with gooey crumbs.
  7. Let the brownies cool in the pan before cutting. Sprinkle the brownies with powdered sugar, if desired.

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Deep Chocolate Brownies

I stumbled across this recipe for these decadent looking brownies. Making these was added on to my long to-do list. When I finally got a chance to bake, the only grocery store I have within walking distance was out of bittersweet chocolate. However, I discovered about 2 weeks later that Trader Joe’s has bittersweet chocolate for pretty dang cheap.

A few minor additions and a couple hours later, out of the oven came the best brownies I have ever had.

deep chocolate brownies

Deep Chocolate Brownies
adapted from

2 sticks unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup chopped nuts – I used pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Butter and dust a 13 x 9 in baking pan with cocoa powder.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a 3 qt. heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking, until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs one at a time until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
  4. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt and then whisk into chocolate mixture until combined. Fold the chopped chocolate and nuts in.
  5. Spread into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with gooey crumbs, about 30 minutes.
  6. Cool completely and store for 24 hours before slicing.

I know that the last step is hard because these brownies look (and smell) amazing. But, trust me – the longer they sit, the better they taste!