Recipe: Brownie-Wine Brittle

I saw a yummy-looking bag of Brownie Brittle at the store recently… and it just seemed to cry out for a wine-makeover.  Since today was a “cook/bake/blog/errand” kind of day, this recipe just called out to me.  I hope you’ll enjoy it!


I started with one box of brownie mix, one egg, red wine, canned pumpkin, creamy peanut butter, and mini chocolate chips.   Using the directions on the back of the brownie mix box as a guideline, I added equal amounts of canned pumpkin and creamy peanut butter along with the egg, then poured in red wine to thin out the entire mix.  I also added a handful of mini chocolate chips, so there would be little nuggets of chocolate throughout the final product.  I was playing with this recipe, so I did a lot of “guestimating” as I mixed this together.

Feel free to mix this in whatever way you’d like – my plan was to make the mixture thin enough to bake and become crispy as it cooled.  Success!  NOTE: I used the pumpkin in place of the oil because it was in my fridge… and I used the small amount of creamy peanut butter to add a hint of nuttiness to the flavor.  Either one could be substituted with applesauce or you could certainly follow the directions and add more wine/water to thin out the mixture.  It’s entirely up to you!

I used the largest baking sheet (with an edge) that I had in my cupboard and lined it with parchment paper so the final product would lift off fairly easily.  I added enough red wine to thin out the mixture (I would have used James River Cellars’ Rad Red if I’d had some open… the bottle I had open was a South African Shiraz Viognier blend, so I used that in this recipe), poured it onto the baking sheet and spread the mixture as thinly as possible, reaching all four corners.

Because I wanted the brownies to end up dry and crispy, I cooked the entire recipe at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Once the cooking was finished, I turned off the heat in the oven, opened the oven door and let the brownies dry for about an hour.   I decided to wait until the brownie-wine brittle was cool before I broke it apart into pieces.  It broke up nicely and will be fun to play with when I need a small, fun snack or if I want to do a fancier presentation with a small cookie scoop of frosting with brittle around it, like flower petals.

I’ll probably play with this recipe again and adjust the amounts of ingredients, but feel free to try this at home for your own family.  Being able to re-create something you see in the store is actually fun… and making a treat for your family is the best-ever kind of treat.

Wishing you lots of homemade treats as the holidays draw near…


Office Party treats

When I’m trying to think of what to bring to the office (since I work at James River Cellars Winery), I always try and incorporate wine into the recipe.   I’m sure you’ve noticed that I tend to replace water with wine in almost anything… dinner, desserts,  rolls (ok, those are a bit tougher),  appetizers… you’ve seen what I do when I start to experiment in the kitchen.

Today, I wanted to make bite-sized treats for my company Christmas party tomorrow night.  I’ve got an appointment before the party, so this had to be something I could make a day ahead and still have it be yummy.  Thankfully, I already had a fabulous recipe to use as my base… Mocha Wine Cupcakes!

I RedVelvetBrownieCupcakesstarted with the basic recipe that I posted under the title “Mocha Wine Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting”.  That recipe is my all-time GO TO when it comes to chocolate cake.  It’s a recipe that needs no milk, butter, or eggs… it freezes beautifully… it tastes great after thawing… and it was what our baker used a “million” years ago for our Chocolate Wedding cake.  It totally rocks!

This time, I decided to make a half recipe and add in 2T Nutella to the recipe.  I’m not sure that it made a huge difference, but I liked the creamy velvety feeling of having Nutella in my cupcakes, so I chose to use the Red Velvet name.  You could certainly add an entire container of red food coloring to make this chocolate batter turn a beautiful deep red, but I thought they were pretty without the extra addition.

I snapped a few shots throughout the process this morning (yup… had them baked before 10AM… while I was drinking my hubby-made latte’… it was a good morning!) and then frosted them with most of a container of cookie frosting so they’d be done pretty quickly.  I even added a glimmer of gold sugar-glitter on top to make them sparkle for our holiday party.  Fancy! 

See?  A fun office treat doesn’t have to take a great deal of man-hours… just the desire to create something tasty and pretty!  Try this recipe and see if you don’t get asked for the recipe over and over again…

Oh… and when you get asked for the recipe?  Feel free to point them to this blog!  🙂

Red Velvet Brownie Cupcakes

1 1/2 cup flour

1 c sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons cocoa

6 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup espresso

2/3 cup red wine

2 large Tablespoons Nutella

Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.  Spoon batter into cupcake liners (I used mini muffin liners and was able to make 48 mini cupcakes) and bake at 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting or icing.  I like to make a zig-zag pattern in white icing and then sprinkle with colored sugar.

Recipe: Pumpkin Wine Brownies

Yup… you read that right… there’s pumpkin in these things.  PumpkinWineBrownies  If you can possibly get past the idea of adding pumpkin into something that is supposed to be a chocolatey, yummy treat, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.  That is, of course, if you can get past the idea that you’re adding a vegetable into your treat.  Can you??

I was hungry for brownies last night.   I wanted to use some red wine in the baking process but I also wanted to experiment with making something yummy.   I’ve made brownie muffins using only pumpkin and chocolate cake mix (Hungry Girl, Lisa Lillian, calls them “Yum Yum Brownie Muffins”) but I wasn’t sure about adding red wine to the mix… so I experimented, I used The Force, and came up with this dessert.

I started with a box of brownie mix.  I poured in some red wine and then added a half can of pumpkin (that solid pack pumpkin stuff… not the “pumpkin pie mix” stuff) but it was still a bit too thick, so I added some more red wine to the mixture.  Once it looked smooth enough, I poured it into a 9 x 13 pan and baked it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

See?  The Force in its truest form… helping me make dessert that tastes so good!

As always, when using The Force, I’ll tweak this recipe when I make it the next time.  I’m going to try making this recipe in a 9 x 9 pan so the brownies are a bit thicker (which means I’ll be cooking them a little longer).  I’ll probably find another box of brownie mix that I want to try, especially since this was the box mix that my darling hubby had picked up to make for his own work event.  I may even come up with some other crazy ingredient to add and see how it turns out.

Whatever I do, I’ll do my best to always share my experiments with you on this blog.  Isn’t that what writing a blog is all about?

Enjoy the experiments in life… they are what can make things fun, unique, enjoyable, and ultimately your own.

Take time to try different things and don’t be afraid of failing… sometimes its the failures that allow you to be the most creative!

Oh… and have a brownie!

Recipe: Brownies… with wine

This is probably the single most incredibly easy recipe I could possibly share with you.  Each and every time I mention this in the tasting room, the reaction I get just makes me laugh.  I’m not a scientist and don’t claim to be one, so I have no real clue what it is that wine does to brownies, but let me tell you… they’re incredible.

To make this recipe, you want to find a box of brownie mix.  Not just any brownie mix, but find one that actually calls for the same amount of oil and water in the mix.  Don’t be daunted by the idea that you might not end up using the “name brand”… a generic brand will work just fine.  Keep searching on the back of the box to find one with this ratio.  I have no idea why it’s important, but it is.

Second step?  Replace the water in the recipe with an equal amount of red wine.  Here’s the thing… you can use a dry red wine, like a Cab Franc or a Malbec… you can use something with some Residual Sugar like Hanover Red (from James River Cellars) or Rad Red (from this same winery)… you can use a red Flip Flop wine if that’s what you’ve got on hand.  It’s all up to you.

Next step is to go back to the recipe and continue to follow it through the baking process.  I suggest underbaking these by a little, checking after the first time suggestion on the box.  If a knife, stuck into the middle of the brownies, comes out “mostly clean”, go ahead and take them out of the oven and let them cool.

Once your wine brownies are cool, cut them and enjoy them with your friends and neighbors.  Since the alcohol in the wine is cooked out, these are fine for kids to eat as well… provided they’re allowed to have this kind of chocolate-yummy-goodness.

You’ll probably be asked for the recipe…. feel free to point them toward this blog.  I love sharing my recipes, as you can tell by this blog!