I love brownies. They have to be the best dessert in the whole world, and this double chocolate recipe is the best of dozens I’ve made. When the guys asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I hinted that I saved some of the cream cheese frosting from big boo’s chocolate cupcakes and stuck it in the freezer. It was the perfect amount to dump some cinnamon into and top my favorite double chocolate brownies with hubby’s secret ingredient, a pinch of cayenne pepper. Sounds odd, I know. But the heat of the cayenne enhances the chocolate and makes these brownies so amazing!
I can’t remember the last time someone baked me a birthday “cake.” Hubby, big boo and little boo sure did make me feel loved with all the TLC that went into these brownies. I sat on the couch trying to read a cook book, but really I was just listening to hubby and the boys work together to make these for me. It was a really happy morning.
The brownies got even more amazing when I decided to save a little hunk of the beets I’d roasted for a salad. Followers know I tossed my food coloring bottles a couple months ago, swearing off of them for home use. I’d heard of using beet juice as a natural food coloring, and lacking enough “juice,” I thought the tiny beet hunk would color the icing up just fine. They turned out gorgeous. I love how psychedelically pink beets are, and I wanted the boys to see how we could use food to change the color of the icing. Beets dye everything they come in contact with – vinaigrette, goat cheese, plate, fingers, teeth – which makes them fun for kids. The first time I made beet salad the boys were 1 and 3. We got a mirror out at the table and watched our teeth turn pink. They loved it. (Note: I served beet salad at 3 and 6 and it didn’t go over as well. Both of them ate it, but only after staring at their plates for 10 minutes. They didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t love at first bite.)
Best Double Chocolate Brownie Recipe
You can find the brownie recipe here at Martha Stewart’s site. I made a couple changes. Dutch process cocoa and bittersweet instead of semisweet chocolate was used because that’s what we had in the baking box. And the secret ingredient is a pinch of cayenne pepper added with the other dry ingredients. You just want a pinch. Cayenne in chocolate is like a new hair cut. You don’t want everyone to notice the new do, you just want to look amazing. Brownies just need a touch of the cayenne to enhance the chocolate flavor. The resulting brownies should taste uber chocolatey and amazing, but not spicy.
Beet Pink Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
The idea for the cinnamon, chocolate, cream cheese icing comb came from Emeril’s Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. The reason I prefer chocolate desserts is because they don’t taste overly sweet. So when I make cream cheese frosting I add less sugar, almost half as much as the recipe calls for. I actually like the look of the frosting with the beet bits in there, kinda like sprinkles of darker pink. Although I imagine this frosting will spoil more quickly with a veggie lurking in there! Ok fine. Twist my arm. I’ll go eat another one.
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (already reduced, but knock it down more if you like!)
1 TBS size piece of roasted beet (or some beet juice)
Combine cream cheese and butter in a food processor and blend (or use a hand/stand mixer). Add the sifted powdered sugar in three parts, blending slowly. Once the sugar is incorporated, add in the beet and pulse until it’s combined and icing is bright pink. If you’re using a mixer, puree the beet piece by pressing it through a sieve, then add the puree to the mixer and combine.
Kid Appeal Tip One way to reduce sugar intake is to cut down on some of the sugar in baked goods. Stop buying muffins, cupcakes, and other treats at the store and make them at home. Not only can you adjust the amount of sugar, but you’ll be avoiding other preservatives. Start by reducing the sugar amounts in batters and icings by 1/4 cup and keep going until they are still sweet enough to feel like cake and your family enjoys them. You’d be surprised how much sugar you can eliminate from recipes without even missing it.
Kid Appeal Tip 2 I strongly recommend against any artificial sweeteners for kids (and adults, but I know how hard it is to kick a diet coke habit!). You might be sparing them a little sugar/calories, but their brain still thinks they are consuming sugar, and they’ll still have the same blood sugar spike/crash. It’s better to eat sweets sweetened with sugar, organic sugar and honey in moderation, than to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners. Low blood sugar levels = low brain activity. It’s actually harder to make good choices about food, behavior etc. when blood sugar levels are low! Keep it steady (er) by eating some protein with sweet treats. A handful of nuts or a glass of milk will do the trick. My trick to moderating sweets? We only eat them at restaurants and when I make them at home. If you have to bake them yourself you’ll end up eating them less often.