marshmallow

Mini S’mores Brownies

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Mini S’mores Brownies: Dense. Fudgy. Perfectly decadent. Easy. Everything you love about s’mores and brownies is compacted into this delicious dessert no one will be able to turn down! 

Mini S'mores Brownies | Sempre Dolce

Happy Friday! Today I’m coming at you with these Mini S’mores Brownies, which I think you are going to ♥. If you’ve been hanging around here for a few of years (if you have, I’d like to know who you are!), you might remember these that I posted back in 2014? This is a variation of that recipe.

I made a few tweaks which make these even better than the original and also a bit simpler; specifically in the just-as-tasty-but-easier-to-make meringue.

Mini S'mores Brownies | Sempre Dolce

The original recipe uses a marshmallow meringue which is good, but a little more time consuming than I like. So for the version here today, I used a Swiss meringue. Much simpler, but just as good. In fact, I might even prefer it over the marshmallow – though that could just be the lazy inside of me speaking there… It seriously is so simple to make and yet provides you with the effect of marshmallow.

Another change made was to chop up the milk chocolate bar and incorporate it into the batter, instead of using whole squares placed on top. I was pleased with the results of this because it almost gives off the taste of a milk chocolate brownie and adds more to the overall s’mores effect.

Mini S'mores Brownies | Sempre Dolce

The end result is so amazing, you guys.

These Mini S’mores Brownies are super easy to make and will be ready in under two hours! The serving size is perfect (helloo, no sharing!) and they are the perfect amount of dense and gooey; choc-full of chocolate, and also, who can resist a pillowy cloud of toasted meringue on top??

Not me.

Enjoy and cottura felice!

Mini S'mores Brownies | Sempre Dolce

Some Things to Note:

Baking: Please, please try not to overbake your brownies, you want them fudgy! (If you don’t, then this recipe is probably not for you!) They should be done in no more than 25 minutes (mine were done in 25). And when testing, remember that there is a lot of chocolate in there, so examine your toothpick/cake tester closely to see whether you are getting batter or chocolate. You want to look for some moist crumbs attached to the toothpick/tester; you will also be able to tell somewhat by looking at the tops. You do not want a center that looks dark and fudgy, if that makes sense. Here is a bit from Epicurious on the matter of baking brownies:

When done, the edges of the brownies will be visibly baked through and the center will be set (that is, not wiggly) when you shake the pan. Guy-Hamilton looks for the first sign of cracking on the brownie’s top—which should be shiny and set—and then pulls them out. These cues override the recipe; even if the instructions suggest baking for five more minutes, when your brownies exhibit these signs and look done, take them out.

Meringue: When adding the meringue, you can use two methods. You can pipe large dots like I did (see photos) or you can place in mounds and swirl it. I must confess that I did the dots for the sake of the photos alone (shame on me) and would actually recommend the mounds as you will have a LOT of meringue left otherwise! (Between you and me, I actually went back after the shoot and added the rest of the meringue, so they looked like they do here – the more the better, right?)

Mini S’mores Brownies
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Ingredients

    For the Brownies:
  • ¼ C. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ C. granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ C. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt (sea or table salt is fine too!)
  • 1 tsp. coffee granules, or espresso powder, optional
  • 1 (4.4 oz) milk chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
  • 6 mini ready graham cracker crusts (I used Keebler)
  • For the Meringue:
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ C. granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. and place mini crusts on a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Add egg and whisk to combine.
  4. In a small bowl (I actually used a cereal bowl!), whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and optional coffee granules.
  5. Gradually add to wet ingredients, whisking (or stirring) briefly after each addition until just combined.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, stir in chopped chocolate.
  7. Divide batter evenly between crusts and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick/tester comes out with moist crumbs attached. * Please see note in post!*
  8. Transfer brownies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  9. Once brownies are cool, make meringue.
  10. For the meringue:
  11. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar.
  12. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure bowl does not touch water) and whisk until mixture reaches a temperature of 160° F., or until sugar is completely dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes.
  13. Transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick, glossy, and marshmallow-like in texture, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add meringue by placing mounds on each brownie and swirling around with a spoon. Again, see note in post!
  15. Using a kitchen torch, brown/toast the meringue. Alternatively, you can place under the broiler for about 30 seconds, until browned.
  16. Serve immediately (< recommended!) or place in fridge and bring out 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving to allow the brownies to come to room temperature.
  17. Enjoy!
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https://sempre-dolce.com/mini-smores-brownies/

Brownies adapted from allrecipes.

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Halloween Shortbread Cookies

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Hello! And a Happy Halloween to all ghouls, goblins, and whatnots.

Halloween Shortbread Cookies | Sempre Dolce

Can you believe how close we are to November?? Wow. Time just needs to stop. Like, right now.

I’ve mentioned before to you how much I love Halloween but dislike the gruesome side of it – which, maybe you’re thinking “what exactly do you think the point of Halloween is?” Uh, cute costumes, pumpkins, festivals and, well, all that the holiday is just without the oozing blood and extreme obsession with death and darkness. This, of course, is coming from the person who went into a Halloween store once and was totally freaked out by the room they had dedicated to the darker side of things. Hey, I can take spook but in moderation, please. And let’s keep it family friendly, k?

Halloween Shortbread Cookies | Sempre Dolce

Really though, I think I always envisioned and loved the idea of Halloween being what I read about in children’s picture books; sort of a celebration of fall with the aforementioned cute costumes, candy… and all that good stuff.

Can I hear an amen?

Halloween Shortbread Cookies | Sempre Dolce

I tell you what though, one place I’ve been to and would not want to be on Halloween is Salem, MA (totally cheesy). I visited Salem several years back with high expectations and came away sorely disappointed (I wasn’t there on Halloween and sure wouldn’t want to be either!). It was nothing but a tourist trap.

Sooo, are you a Halloween fan or do you think it’s overrated?

Halloween Shortbread Cookies | Sempre Dolce

I don’t know what your plans are and whether you’ve had everything planned for weeks, or are more like me and tend to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off (← there, my attempt at Halloween gore) trying to make sure everything’s ready in time, but regardless you need these cookies in your life asap. And, they’re good for the planned and less planned as they are so easy (I ♥ easy!) and oh-my-goodness delicious. This shortbread is a family recipe and you’ve seen no shortage of it around here and won’t anytime soon. (Of course, I must note that to have it the authentic way, you need to experience it plain with nothing inside and nothing on top – this version will be coming your way soon! – but it is also a very versatile cookie and fun to create with.)

This version I have for you today is extremely easy to make. And if you are still in need of a Halloween treat, these will come together and be ready for eating in time for your parties or after-trick-or-treating crash. We all need a little ease in our life, don’t you think? Especially during these next two months – oh, these next two months… #notready

Halloween Shortbread Cookies | Sempre Dolce

The Lowdown: Rich, buttery shortbread covered in a marshmallow buttercream and topped with chocolate Halloween designs will beat any treat on the block! 

Halloween Shortbread Cookies
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Ingredients

    Shortbread:
  • 6 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 C. (4 sticks or 1 lb) butter softened and cut into 1 tbsp. slices
  • 2-3 egg yolks (please see note below!)
  • Marshmallow Buttercream:
  • 1 ½ C. powdered sugar
  • ½ C. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ C. marshmallow creme
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla extract
  • For Decorating:
  • ½ C. chocolate chips (I used semisweet)

Instructions

    For the shortbread:
  1. In a large bowl using a large spoon, mix together flour and sugar.
  2. With your hands, knead butter into flour mixture until well blended, about 5 minutes. It will be done when dough forms a moist crumb and there are no visible chunks of butter.
  3. Using your hands, mix in egg yolks. Start with two, mix and form a small ball. If the dough is too dry and falls apart add the extra yolk. Keep in mind that this is a very crumbly dough in general, but it should still hold together when you squeeze some together in your hand.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° f.
  5. Form about 7 baseball-size balls of dough.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, take one ball at a time and lightly roll to about 1/4 in. thickness with rolling pin (you can also pat it out with your hands - I used a combination of the two). Again, keep in mind that this is a crumbly dough, so as you roll you might need to do some patching.
  7. With a 3 in. round cookie cutter (mine was a little over 3 in. round), cut out cookies, re-rolling/patting dough as needed.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough balls, re-flouring surface as needed. In all, you should get 22-23 cookies total.
  9. Place rounds on a non greased cookie sheet (they can be placed fairly close together as they won't spread while baking).
  10. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until bottoms begin to brown and cookies are firm to the touch.
  11. Remove cookies from oven and transfer pan to cooling rack for about 10 minutes.
  12. After 10 minutes, remove cookies from pan and transfer directly to cooling rack to finish cooling. Make sure cookies are completely cool before frosting
  13. For the frosting:
  14. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar for 2 minutes, scrape down sides as needed.
  15. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
  16. To decorate:
  17. Spread a thin (not too thin! I would say a little less than a tablespoon) layer of frosting evenly on each cookie. Place cookies on a surface for decorating (tray, sheet of parchment or wax paper, etc.)
  18. Once cookies have been frosted, melt chocolate chips. Place chocolate into a piping bag with small tip (or do what I did and place in a sandwich-size ziploc with a small piece snipped of the corner, and use that :). Using chocolate, decorate cookies with Halloween-themed decorations - I went the easy route (decorating is not one of my strengths) and did spider webs and a boo! message.
  19. If you’ve added 3 egg yolks and still feel the dough is too crumbly to work with, add an egg yolk more until you feel you have the right consistency (this last time I ended with 4 yolks - 5 if I count the double yolk).
  20. Yields: 22-23 Cookies

Notes

If you’ve added 3 egg yolks and still feel the dough is too crumbly to work with, add an egg yolk more until you feel you have the right consistency (this last time I ended with 4 yolks - 5 if I count the double yolk).

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https://sempre-dolce.com/halloween-shortbread-cookies/

Frosting recipe adapted from The Kitchen Magpie.

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Fudgy Peppermint Brownies

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It’s less than two weeks until Christmas and I have the big total of 1 gift so far. Yeah, I’m doing great on my gift shopping…

What about you; how many gifts do you have?

Fudgy Peppermint Brownies | Sempre Dolce

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