Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coffee Toffee Fudge Brownies

Remember that Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty™ at Wendy's®? I thought those were absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, they don't make them anymore. BUT, when Duncan Hines® was kind enough to send me free samples of their new Frosting Creations™ product, one of the flavors they gave me happened to be "mocha." You know where this is going, right?

My first thought was to make a "coffee toffee" version of yummy, fudgy brownies using the mocha frosting. And, oh boy, I was not disappointed. Seriously, I was amazed at how delicious these brownies were. Plus, they're so easy to make!

Here's what you'll need:

1 box Duncan Hines® Chewy Fudge Brownie mix (use the recipe for "fudgy" brownies)
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 can Duncan Hines® Frosting Creations™ Frosting Starter
1 packet Duncan Hines® Frosting Creations™ Mocha Flavor Mix
1 (12 oz.) Classic Bag of miniature Heath® Milk Chocolate English Toffee Bars

First thing's first -- and I don't mean preheating the oven this time -- is a little prep work. Get out a nice, sharp knife and a cutting board, unwrap your mini Heath® bars, and get to chopping. I did a few at a time and put the candy pieces in a bowl as I went along. I personally cut one bar lengthwise once, then each half into three to four small chunks. You can make the candy bits as chunky or as fine as you like. You might be wondering if there's an easier way -- well, there is. You can actually buy an 8 oz. bag of Heath® bits, found in the baking aisle with the chocolate chips. I chose the 12 oz. bag of miniature bars because overall it was cheaper per ounce, and I don't mind a little extra work. (At the store I went to, the 12 oz. bag of bars was only about 10 cents more than the 8 oz. bag of candy bits. Dude, for 10 cents more you get 50% more product!)

Next, preheat the oven to 350°F, prepare your 13"x9" baking pan with foil and/or cooking spray, and get to work on the brownie batter. Combine the brownie mix, eggs, water, and oil in a mixing bowl and mix as per the directions on the box. I used my trusty KitchenAid® mixer, but apparently Duncan Hines® recommends hand-mixing brownies... Oh well, it turned out fine anyway! Once the batter is made, add about half of the Heath® bits and fold them in.

Pour the batter in the pan and bake as per box directions (27-30 minutes).

Now we play the waiting game... Once the brownies are done, you must must MUST be patient and let them cool completely. Otherwise, when you frost them, you'll end up with a gooey mess (yes, icing melts). When the brownies are completely cool, mix the flavor packet into the can of frosting starter as per directions and slather it on in a nice, thick, even layer over your brownies.

Last but not least, sprinkle the other half of the candy bits on top, and voila! You have Coffee Toffee Fudge Brownies.

Trust me, you'll want a nice, big hunk of this. I think these are now my absolute favorite brownies, and I want to make them again really soon. If you try this recipe (which you definitely should), I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Your Cupcake,

~Jesia <3

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dad's Favorite Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My dad's birthday is tomorrow, and every year I make his favorite cake: pineapple upside down cake (served with a dollop of whipped cream!). This time around I decided to change up my usual recipe just a little bit by adding a box of vanilla instant pudding mix and replacing the water in the recipe with pineapple juice.

Usually I would follow this recipe from Duncan Hines®, but I got the idea of adding pudding mix from this version of the recipe, which is baked in a cast-iron skillet. I mean, adding pudding mix to cake batter can only make it better, right? ;) I also noticed that several people who reviewed these recipes noted that they replaced the water with pineapple juice (which my boyfriend also does), even though the recipe specifically says not to (I wonder why?). I figured, why not give it a shot?

So, here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple rings (with juice)
Maraschino cherries (at least 6)
1 (18.25 oz.) box Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe® Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix
1 (3.4 oz.) box vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup pineapple juice*
1/2 cup oil

*There should be just about enough pineapple juice in the can of pineapple rings, but you can add a little water to make up the difference without a problem if you need to.

First off, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the stick of butter in a 13x9" cake pan and put it in the oven until it's completely melted. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the melted butter in the bottom of the cake pan, using the back of a spoon to smooth and spread the butter and sugar mixture evenly if needed. Next, arrange the pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture. Eight whole ones will fit nicely, and the other two can be cut in half. Cut the cherries in half and place one in the middle of each pineapple ring with the cut-side up.

Now that the topping is arranged, it's time to mix up the cake batter. Combine the cake mix, instant pudding mix, eggs, pineapple juice, and oil in a large mixing bowl, beating it on low for about 30 seconds; it will be lumpy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula, then beat for about 2 minutes at medium speed. The batter should be nicely combined and no longer lumpy.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the brown sugar and fruit topping.

Bake at 350°F. I put mine in for 50 minutes as the recipe said, but I think it was a little overdone. I would recommend checking it after 40-45 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes on a wire rack, then carefully turn the cake out onto a serving plate. I find that the easiest way to do that is to place the plate on top of the cake while it's still in the pan, and hold the plate and pan together securely while flipping them. After flipping so that the serving plate is on the table, carefully lift the cake pan slowly to let the cake slide out onto the plate. That's all there is to it!

Isn't it pretty?

Serve slices of the pineapple upside down cake with whipped cream, and enjoy! Happy birthday, Dad! I love you. =)

If there isn't enough fruit for your liking, I'm sure you could add pineapple chunks or more cherry halves in between the pineapple rings. I know that my boyfriend prefers his pineapple upside down cake made with the pineapple chunks instead of slices; it isn't as pretty, but it's easier to eat and also to cut the cake into smaller pieces.

Your Cupcake,

~Jesia <3