brownies

S'mores Brownies

It’s peak S’mores Season now but with this S’mores Brownie recipe, you can channel that campfire beachy feeling all year round! I’ve tinkered with this recipe so many times, and my kids have been bombarded with various s’mores brownies all summer. No surprise, this makes them ridiculously happy.

S'mores Brownies easy recipe

I’ve made this with marshmallows, with store bought fluff and homemade fluff and I have to be honest, the homemade fluff is my favorite. The fluff recipe I followed is from The Kitchn and while I’ve literally never purchased or cooked anything with corn syrup before, it was worth it to make this fluff myself. Once I bought that and a candy thermometer, the fluff recipe took 20 minutes from start to finish.

Homemade marshmallow fluff

Homemade marshmallow fluff

Once the fluff was made, I went to work on the brownies. The base of the brownie recipe is one that I can make in my sleep at this point. It’s a tried and true favorite around here. To assemble the S’mores Brownies, I add half the batter to the bottom of a lined 8x8 pan, add a layer of graham crackers and top those with the remainder of the batter. The batter is thick, so using your fingertips to spread the batter on top of the graham cracker layer is best. (see the full recipe below)

Setting up s'mores brownies

Once you’ve spread that evenly, it’s time to add the marshmallow fluff. I used just under 1 cup of fluff in each batch, but you can use more or less depending on how “fluffy” you like your s’mores. I like to sprinkle the top with graham cracker crumbs for two reasons: it makes the graham cracker flavor come through more and it makes these easier for my kids to hold.

Once these are baked, let them cool completely before cutting them with a super sharp knife. I prefer to serve these in small sizes, so an 8x8 pan makes 25 brownies for us.

s'mores brownies

S’mores Brownies

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaked salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs, cold

  • 1/2 cup ap flour (sub with oat flour to make gluten free)

  • 6 full graham crackers, divided

  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff (I used this recipe but you can purchase this already made)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt and stir until all lumps are gone. Stir in vanilla, eggs and flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and thick. Spread half of the batter into the pan. 

Add one layer of graham crackers on top of the batter. This will use 4 1/2 graham cracker sheets. Crumble the remaining 1 1/2 graham crackers into a small bowl and save for later.

Add the remainder of the batter to the top of the graham crackers and use your hands or the back of a spoon to spread evenly on top.

Top with marshmallow fluff and finally graham cracker crumbs.

Bake for approximately 28-33 minutes or until the brownies have set. Let cool completely on a rack. Cut into 25 squares and watch them disappear. 

If you simply can’t decide between S’mores Brownies and traditional s’mores, put together a platter! If you make these and post them on social media, don’t forget to tag @lalalunchbox and #lalalunchbox

S’mores Board

S’mores Board

Gluten Free Brownies

For your Valentine or for any time, these Gluten Free Brownies will absolutely hit the spot. Here I’ve made them into heart shaped bites for Valentine’s Day, but this is a recipe that I make whenever the mood strikes. They’re fudgy and satisfying, and perfect to stash away in your freezer.

I love these brownies because they satisfy my chocolate cravings immediately, and in 2 bites. Talk about instant gratification! I normally make these in an 8x8 pan, but I’ve used heart shaped molds here for Valentine’s Day. It works in virtually every shape, as long as you adjust the cooking time. I love that this recipe is easy and flexible like that. The heart shaped mini molds baked for 21 minutes, versus an 8x8, which takes 24-28. The larger heart took 23 minutes to bake. I love inviting my kids into the kitchen for this one!

Gluten Free Brownies for Valentines Day

If you don’t have oat flour and don’t want this to be gluten free, you can substitute ap flour here. If you have oats but no oat flour, you can use your blender or food processor to make your own oat flour. I hope you love these as much as we do! If you make this recipe, tag me @lalalunchbox and let me know!

Gluten Free Brownie Bites

Gluten Free Brownie Batter

1 cup sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 heaping teaspoon flake salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oat flour

Preheat the oven to 325°F

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. 

Melt the butter and place in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat to combine. Next, incorporate the cocoa powder slowly and thoroughly. Continue with the salt, vanilla, eggs and flour making sure everything is fully mixed. The batter should be slightly pasty. Pour into your baking pan and bake for 25-28 minutes. 

Notes:

I like to cut mine into small pieces, so for us, this makes at least 20 brownies. 
I’ve used Dutch process cocoa here too, which makes the brownies even fudgier because there is no baking powder as a leavening agent. You can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder if you use Dutch process cocoa. I’ve also used half natural cocoa powder and half Dutch process and the outcome was fudgy and delicious. 



Birthday Brownies

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The year that I sent my daughter to school with strawberry shortcakes on her birthday will probably go down as the worst.

She's always been a strawberry girl, drawn to both the fresh-picked, tiny sweet ones and the large, often less flavorful ones we find at the market. Ages ago, she came across a fun fact that strawberries were the only fruit that had seeds on the outside, and it became one of her favorite stories to tell for a while. She's also huge fan of all things bready, and biscuits fit beautifully in that category. And fresh whipped cream? It's got her name all over it. My mother made strawberry shortcakes for her one day and she was smitten. 

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So that year for her 5th birthday, I made strawberry shortcakes - at her request - for her in-school celebration. The kids hated them! Okay, hate is definitely too strong, but I learned that kids have expectations for classroom birthdays and strawberry shortcakes didn't make the cut. That's a whole other topic, and I'd love to discuss it but I'm all about the birthday dessert today. Anyway, we had a lot left over that year, which no one here complained about. 

Brownies are universally beloved. 

Brownies are universally beloved. 

From then on, my kids have requested more traditional things for school, like cupcakes or cookies. Works for me. At some point, they'll stop asking for homemade desserts for school birthdays, so I'm happy to comply annually until then. This year, my newly minted 12 year old asked if I could please make brownies for school. Brownies were definitely not going to be panned. Who doesn't love brownies? I *love* them. An extra batch of brownies doesn't stay around for long, and making them is easy and fun. 

The recipe that I've been loving lately is adapted from Smitten Kitchen. The brownies are dark, rich, chocolatey and not too sweet, and definitely not cakey. I made four batches in two days, sending off three to school and saving one for us. I've replaced the AP flour with oat flour, making these gluten free, and I've reduced both the sugar and the cocoa powder. I also found that they needed a bit more time to cook, so I've reflected that in this recipe (scroll down). 

Here's how easy they are to make (as opposed to strawberry shortcakes, which took me way longer, and were much more labor intensive). It's just 7 ingredients and 6 steps --- take a look:  

Brownie ingredients: 7

Brownie ingredients: 7

1. First mix the butter and sugar.

butter + sugar

butter + sugar

2. Add cocoa powder and stir to combine. 

added cocoa powder

3. Add salt. 

Add salt

4. Add eggs and vanilla. 

add eggs

5. Add oat flour and give it one final stir. 

Add oat flour

6. Ready to bake! Place in a parchment lined pan in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25-28 minutes.

ready to bake

 

Birthday Brownies

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaked salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup oat flour

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or grease with avocado oil or butter.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt and stir until all lumps are gone. Stir in vanilla, eggs and oat flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and thick. Spread evenly into the pan. 

Bake for approximately 25-28 minutes or until the brownies have set and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a rack. Cut into 16 or 25 squares and watch them disappear. 

ultimate brownies

Brownies with Avocado and Black Beans

I'm a fan of recipe experimentation. And as I've been saying lately, I'm also fan of all things avocado. So when I came across this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen for Black Bean Avocado Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies it was something that fit right along with my "sure, I'll give it a whirl" philosophy. 

I let my babysitter know that I was making these and she giggled - admittedly they sounded weird. But when it came time to try them, they got a universal thumbs up! I'm always a fan of letting my kids know exactly what's in their food. In addition to being honest and promoting honesty, I want my kids to be excited by the myriad of possibilities inherent in the foods we eat. I don't believe in hiding vegetables or fooling children. Ever. 

So when I told them that these brownies were made with black beans and avocados they were truly amazed. And kind of delighted that something so delicious and fudgey came from ingredients that are usually associated with savory foods. This is what I call a win!  

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I modified the recipe slightly because I didn't have enough brown sugar in my pantry and I misread the recipe and added a whole avocado instead of a half. I made some other slight changes to the salt quantity and chocolate chip quantity. My modified recipe is below. I refrigerated these brownies and once cold and firmer, the texture was much better (too mushy at room temperature, undoubtedly my own fault thanks to the additional avocado!). Overall, this was a yum. I'll make these again. Thanks to Monique from Ambitious Kitchen! 

Ingredients

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large ripe avocado (I would advise against this. Try it with 1/2 avocado)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used dairy free chips) 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place all ingredients except chocolate chips into a bowl and blend until smooth with stink blender or food processor. Add chocolate chips and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean
  4. Cool pan completely on wire rack then cut into 16 delicious squares.
  5. Refrigerate (or freeze!) and enjoy!