Monday, December 7, 2015

Festive Christmas Tree Brownies

FACT: Food is instantly better when it’s been holiday-fied ß Not a word, but that’s okay. Remember these candy corn Rice Krispies treats I made for Halloween? Yeah, ADORABLE! So for Christmas, I’m adding a seasonal spin to a classic dessert – BROWNIES!

Quadrilateral brownies are so overrated. Instead, I’m making Christmas tree brownies! Initially, I used a Christmas tree cookie cutter to cut the brownies into the appropriate shape, but there were too many scraps and not enough trees with that method. So instead, I cut the brownies into triangles, which look just like trees with significantly less scraps. In fact, there are exactly four half-triangle scraps that you should most definitely snack on while cutting the rest of the brownies.

But no Christmas tree is complete without garland and ornaments, right? So I decorated the trees with vanilla buttercream frosting, sprinkles, and mini M&Ms! I used vanilla buttercream frosting as opposed to cream cheese frosting or chocolate ganache because buttercream frosting hardens, it lasts longer, and it’s easier to transport ß important if you want to stick these in cute holiday bags and hand out as gifts to your friends and neighbors.

Also, Christmas trees have trunks, which are easily made with candy canes!

FOREWARNING: You may be surprised that my brownie “recipe” is a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix. I can already hear the haters saying, “That’s not actual home-baking!” Well ya know what, I’ve tested out half-a-dozen homemade brownie recipes and the Ghirardelli brownie mix is my favorite. And I think sometimes we forget that easier is better. So I’m using brownie mix and NO ONE CAN STOP ME FROM LICKING THE BATTER!

Christmas Tree Brownies
For the brownies
  • Two boxes of Ghirardelli brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
For the buttercream frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Line a 15x10* baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick baking spray (the reason for using aluminum foil is so that they’re easy to pull out of the pan). Set pan aside.
  3. Mix the water, vegetable oil, and eggs in a bowl.
  4. Add the two boxes of brownie mix and stir until well-blended.
  5. Spread mix into pan.
  6. Bake brownies for 39 minutes. Check on them – if you stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean, they’re done! If brownie mix sticks on the toothpick, bake for a two more minutes and check again.
  7. When the brownies have cooled, life the aluminum foil out of the pan.
  8. Slice the brownies in half length-wise (down the center) and then make six diagonal cuts to form 22 “trees” with four edges as scraps in each corner.
 For the buttercream
  1. Beat softened butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add powdered sugar and mix until combined
  3. Add cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until combined
  4. Increase mixer to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes.
  5. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick.
  6. OPTIONAL: Add two to three drops of green food coloring and mix until color is distributed.
  7. Decorate brownies with frosting, sprinkles, and other toppings of your choice!

*If you don’t have a 15x10 pan, use a 9x13 pan – the brownies will just be a little thicker.

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