Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brownies PLUS: A Book Review and Recipe

Last week, I knew I would be traveling alone to go visit my mother and sisters.  Believe it or not, I think it is the first time I traveled ALONE more than an hour or two in over ten years!  I hoped to find a good audio book  to keep me both awake and entertained.  I wasn't familiar with many of the choices at the small branch library near me and I didn't have time to go to the main library downtown.  So, I chose 3 books, just in case.  Turns out, I didn't need all 3.  The first one kept me both entertained, but HUNGRY for the whole trip!

I will admit that it is nothing but FLUFF.  Not exactly challenging reading, but cute and light, which is what I needed.  I guess you could say it is even a little corny...but sort of funny, too.  What I didn't know is that she has a WHOLE SERIES of Hannah Swenson Mysteries.  This became evident after I started listening to the book.  Another thing I didn't know is in each chapter, a cookie or pastry is mentioned.  The main character in the book owns a cookie shop.  At the end of each chapter, she gives the recipe for the cookies mentioned.  And in the audio book, the recipe is also read OUT LOUD. I was alone, in the car, craving cookies.

After hearing so many good recipes, I was inspired to bake as soon as possible.That turned out to be on Thursday, when my husband was out of town.  He is not supposed to have a lot of sweets. (shhh...)
One of the recipes was haunting me.

Brownies Plus

Basically, it is two layers of brownie mix with chocolate bars in between the layers.

Need I say more?

I actually baked them from SCRATCH!  I NEVER bake from scratch.  I have horror stories about doing that.  Like the time when my sister and I, as little girls, decided to take orders for oatmeal cookies from all of the neighbors. We were going to sell the cookies to them and donate the money to the nearby Catholic church.  Little saints that we were.  After getting quite a few orders, because who could resist ordering cookies from two cute little girls who were raising money for the church, we set out to bake.  Or at least, I did.  I am not sure what my sister did.  All I remember is I made the mistake, and I got in trouble.

Apparently, Mom had a rather large bag of POWDERED MILK.  I assumed it was flour.  Yes, I was old enough to read, apparently I simply didn't. The mixture was way too watery. Unfortunately  I was preparing a double batch because we had so many orders. We weren't exactly rich, so by the time my Mom and sister realized what I had done, and that I had used 4 cups of powdered milk (instead of flour), Mom wasn't about to throw out ANY of it. She proceeded to add flour and other ingredients trying her hardest to salvage the big mess.  And a big mess it was. What we finally settled on were cookies that looked more like pancakes.  Flat, nasty, oatmeal pancakes.  COLD, flat, nasty, oatmeal pancakes.  What made it worse? We collected the money in advance!

Talk about humiliating! We had to face all of the neighbors and give them a choice: refund or cold, flat, nasty, oatmeal pancakes.  Most said keep the money, bless their hearts. We gave a whooping $13 to the church.  I've hated baking from scratch ever since.  Not that I haven't tried it over and over with many of the same types of results.

I must have been really inspired to attempt to bake these brownies from scratch, because in the book, she even gives an alternative quick method-using a box mix. And you know what?  They turned out pretty good.

If you want the full recipe, you'll have to buy or check out the book.
But, here's the shortcut she mentions:

Shortcut Recipe for Brownies Plus

Use two packages of brownie mix, (8x8 square).  Mix into two different bowls.  Layer one batch in the bottom of a 9x13  prepared, greased pan. Top with chocolate candy bars. You will need at least 5-7 small bars.  I used Hershey's Symphony Bars.  Cover the whole top.  Spoon the other bowl of brownie mix over that and bake at 350 decrees for 30 minutes.  When cool, cut and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I brought most of ours to our homeschool co-op on destroy the evidence.

I shared this post! A link to this post is on:
White Lights on Wednesday
A Bouquet of Talent
Create and Inspire Party
There are lots of other great links there.  Check them out!


  1. I love the idea of sharing this at our Pre Super Bowl party!! You covered the entertainment for the non watchers!!! LOL!! Thanks so much!!
    I just shared it on Facebook and pinned it to my Super Bowl Board:)

    Have a great day!!

  2. Your story is so cute! You brought back some memories for me..I remember doing a skit to raise money for our local Church when I was very young. We had alot of fun! =)

    I really enjoy this series by Joanne Fluke, and have read many of them, ( though I havent read this book yet )

    Have a awesome week!

    1. I've read a couple of others since then. Cute series. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Visiting from the Pre-Superbowl party. Pinning!

  4. These look fabulous! Loved your story, too. I'm with you on baking from scratch. LOL Thank you so much for sharing with us at A Bouquet of Talent this week. Have a wonderful week. :)