Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Peanut butter & oreo stuffed brownie bites

Domestic Diva Diaries. You are definitely on the right blog!

Back in high school, I used to assist my mom in baking pastries from scratch. Our holiday bakefest usually ends with carefully packed chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies pirated from Mrs. Fields, macaroons (with desiccated coconut and NOT macarons), cheese muffins, chocolate cupcakes, crinkles, with all their fresh homemade goodness! Since these bakefests are not only physically demanding but rather costly too, they usually run exclusively during the Holiday season.

On most days when the need to showcase one's domestication arises, boxed instant cake mix will definitely help save the day!
Ghirardelli brownie mix would yield a VERY VERY VERY rich chocolate-y confection as expected, given the reputation of this famous opulent chocolate brand. It's not too milky sweet mind you, it's rich in terms of texture, consistency and cocoa flavor. Baked as is, is just way too sinful and if luxury has a taste, it would definitely be that of a Ghirardelli brownie square, hence I always look for fun and *coughs* cheaper *coughs* ingredient that could balance the expensive taste. 

Before I share this easy peasy recipe I discovered, I would like to debunk 2 baking myths:
  1. It's okay to bake marshmallows into brownies if folding them halfway into baking time sounds too advanced-baking for ya. According to baking legends, baking marshmallows would cause them to expand, creating a batter explosion mess inside your oven. I just proved this wrong. 
  2. Brownie mix CAN be used to bake small muffins or cupcakes. Just don't expect them to rise and be fluffy; remember, brownies are meant to be chewy, dense and thick. Muffin liners are awfully difficult to peel from brownies so patience, my dear
The first time I made cookie sandwich-stuffed brownies, I would complain about how difficult it is to cut the brownies without slicing through the cookies since they tend to float after the batter settles in the baking pan. The only solution I could think of is baking them into muffin pans with liners for easy partition. 
These were the only available muffin liners and are meant for jumbo muffins. I tried fitting them into smaller muffin pans but they easily crease, making filling more difficult and messy. Stacking two oreos is not economically sound hence I placed an oreo and a half held together by a generous smear of peanut butter. Oreos make a good baking ingredient; they are pliable but they also easily burn so be wary of baking time and observe them from time to time. It's tricky to distinguish burnt Oreo given its natural dark chocolate color.

If I can redo the procedure, I would reduce baking time to 20 minutes and give the brownie bites time to cool. Ghirardelli brownies tend to be crunchy on the outside (inside remains soft and chewy, I promise) with prolonged baking time. I'd give this recipe 4 stars out of 5. 5 is a level of perfection I can only give to, say a Valrhona souffle' or Myron's caramel pudding and that level is pretty difficult to reach, let alone surpass.

ISA'S VERDICT: Nutella over peanut butter. Being the girl who would literally eat spoonfuls of Nutella a day, I think substituting Nutella for peanut butter is already beyond my sweetness limit. We already have here a TRIPLE CHOCOLATE batter and adding oreo AND NUTELLA would make that, what? Penta-chocolate sumthin' sumthin'..? I could not, for the life of me imagine the taste as it would devoid the recipe of flavor diversity, only varying levels of chocolate. 

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