Chocolate Chip Mint Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

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I saw these on my favorite blog a couple weeks ago, and obviously had to make them asap (I should really start to think about unsubscribing from all of these food blogs, as they make it pretty hard to stick to my diet “healthy eating lifestyle”).  I waited until I had a summer BBQ to attend, thinking they would be the perfect thing to bring.  I bet you guys can already see the issue, right? It’s a little embarrassing that I didn’t. As it turns out, ice cream + summer weather + car transport + rush hour = disaster (car transport alone was probably enough to seal their fate, but the 90 degree heat and traffic didn’t help).  Why didn’t I think to put them in a cooler? Unclear.

But here’s the thing, they were pretty melty to begin with. I debated even posting this recipe, because (a) do we really need a recipe for ice cream sandwiches? and also (b) because mine didn’t turn out that well. At least, at first. But as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed….try, try again.  And while I may not apply that mantra to any important areas of my life, of course I’m going to try again at brownie ice cream sandwiches.

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While a recipe for ice cream sandwiches is a little superfluous, a recipe for brownies is not. Deb’s brownies are the best – and so easy. Seven ingredients, at least six of which you probably already have in your fridge/pantry (I never seem to have baker’s chocolate, aside from the odd ounce I always have leftover from when I made these brownies the last time).  To make these ice cream sandwich-friendly, you just spread the batter into two layers, either in two 8×8 pans (ideal) or one 9×13 pan (which would also be fine). Secret option number three is to bake two batches in one 8×8 pan, if you can only find one, like me. It’s not the end of the world but next time I’ll use a 9×13, or look harder for my other brownie pan.

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The brownie part is easy (although I would note that these layers are pretty thin, so make sure to let them completely cool before handling, and even then be very careful.  I had the best luck when they were completely frozen). The tricky part is getting the ice cream to stay frozen. I considered glossing over my first attempt, but what is this blog if not an attempt to help you learn from my mistakes?

Deb says you can spread the ice cream over the first brownie layer, top it with the second brownie layer, freeze it for 30 minutes, and you’re good to go.  Perhaps she used better ice cream than me, or has a colder freezer.  But the below photos show my attempt and the sad, melty results.

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Frozen.

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Still frozen.

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Appears frozen-ish.

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Melty mess.  And this is before I had to put them in the car.

Needless to say, they arrived at the party looking less like ice cream sandwiches, and more like 32 thin brownie squares floating in a pool of mint green and vanilla swirled milk.  Tragic. But I made them again, and this time froze the ice cream all by itself in the 8×8 pan (lined with parchment) for a full 24 hours.  I cut the brownies and the ice cream separately and then put the sandwiches together and it worked perfectly. (When I cut the sandwiches the first time the ice cream oozed out – it probably would have been ok if the ice cream had been more frozen but I was afraid to try it out the second time.  Also I think if the sandwich was put together in the pan the cutting would go better as the ice cream wouldn’t have anywhere to go. If you try these at home, experiment and let me know how it goes).

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches, from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
2 to 3 cups ice cream (one quart or two pints)

Heat your oven to 350°F. Line two 8×8-inch square baking pans with parchment paper.  Spray parchment with a nonstick cooking spray (I like to spray the bottom of the pan first so that the parchment sticks/stays in place, then spray the parchment and sides of pan generously as well).

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost melted (you can also do this in the microwave – heat in short increments, stirring every 20-30 seconds or so). Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. Stir in salt until combined, then flour. Try not to over-mix.

Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly — an offset spatula will make this easier. Bake on different racks for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each pan comes out batter-free. Transfer hot pans directly to freezer (you can put down dish towels or a cooling rack to protect shelves). Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

<<This is where my instructions will differ from Deb’s – but I would encourage you to try it her way first if you want.  Especially if you don’t have to transport yours, or if you have the time and energy to do a trial run.  But I think my way is a little more foolproof, albeit not quite as seamless.>>

For sandwiches:
Once brownies have cooled, remove one of the brownie layers from the pan and store on a cookie sheet or cooling rack (these layers are pretty thin so they’ll break easily if they aren’t completely cooled or frozen – be careful!).  Wipe down the 8×8 pan and re-line with parchment (no spray needed this time).  Scoop your ice cream out into the pan, and use a spatula to “smoosh” it into a smooth layer. Cover with parchment and use the second brownie pan to weigh the ice cream down (if you used a 9×13 or only have one 8×8, like me, you can skip this step). Return the ice cream to the freezer and freeze as long as possible. Deb said she only needed 20 minutes – I gave mine over 24 hours and it still started to melt pretty quickly.

When you’re ready to make your sandwiches, cut both brownie layers into 16 squares.  Remove ice cream from the freezer, lift it (using the parchment sling) onto a cutting board, and quickly cut it into 16 squares as well. Make the sandwiches and return to the freezer to let them re-freeze a bit. You’ll want a cookie sheet or a 9×13 pan if you don’t have two 8×8 pans, as it would be tricky to squeeze them all back into one 8×8.

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Friday Faves

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{make your own ice cream sandwich at Hello Robin}

What are you up to this weekend? I’m heading to the coast for my cousin’s bachelorette party – we’re excited for some cooler beach temperatures after another sweltering week. And Baby Nephew Watch 2014 is officially ON – T minus one week to go.  I’m so excited I can hardly stay away from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale bear it. Doctor says he might be early, so next week’s Friday Faves could be all baby pics (don’t say I didn’t warn you)!! My poor sis is more than ready for him to make his debut, but I’m hoping he sits tight until at least Wednesday so that he’s a Leo (not that I particularly care about astrological signs, but I’ve bought him a LOT of lion stuff and I don’t want it to be for naught). 

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Links and faves to get you through your Friday morning (and the links even have a theme this week, I’m getting so fancy!):

  • How to grill anything and everything – so many helpful tips! 
  • How to make entertaining look easy – I would add “get yourself ready ahead of time.”  My aunt threw a dinner party this past Christmas and told me she told my uncle beforehand “our goal is to be sitting on the couch with a glass of wine half an hour before the guests arrive.” I’m usually still drying my hair when my guests arrive, but the thirty minute/wine/couch rule is now my goal too.
  • How to be the most popular person at a party – my friend Larisa brought these to a beach weekend a couple months ago and they were amazing! 
  • How to cure a headache – I need this! 
  • How to get really excited about this movie – ok this really isn’t a “how to” – but it does make me VERY excited for October 3rd!!  I hope you’ve all read the book – even if you hated the ending.  And if you haven’t read it yet, you have 2.5 months! 

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{my new summer obsession – stumptown cold brew}

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{love this organic lip/cheek color}

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{peaceful summer evening at the driving range}

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{some pics from my sister’s baby shower last month –  can you tell we were pretty into our alligator theme? invitations and banner from olive + star, alligator brownie toppers from etsy, DIY vases, cookie favors by yours truly, and cordy roy and his mini radio flyer from auntie/hostess Amanda}

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{and of course, my gift to baby p – hopefully he’s a baseball fan!}

Friday Faves

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{road trip + mcdonald’s cone}

Happy Friday, everyone! Look at me, two blog posts in two days.  I’m pretty proud of myself! (Taking two months off creates a bit of a FF backlog, but I’m going to do my best to catch up over the next few weeks).  I hope everyone has exciting plans for the weekend.  I’m helping out at my family’s annual charity golf tournament tomorrow – the forecast is 97, so wish us all luck not dying of heatstroke.  I hope your plans involve a beach or a pool instead!

Some fun links to get you through your Friday:

  • Orange lipsticks – what are your thoughts? I went to Nordstrom the other night in search of the second one (the most neutral, obviously) but tragically it’s been discontinued.  I was already at the MAC counter so I tried on the first one just for fun, but of course it made me look like a clown.  And by clown I don’t just mean like someone wearing an absurd shade of orange lipstick, I mean like someone you would pay to come to your child’s birthday party wearing a rainbow-striped wig and make balloon animals. Yikes.
  • I would like one of these right this minute.
  • I’m working my way through Emily’s monthly beauty buys – so far I’m still on April, but I’m loving this series (I bet she gets all her products as gratis too, no fair).
  • I don’t think I’m as obsessed with Ryan Gosling as much as the average female between the ages of 15-50 (I’m too busy planning my future with this man), but I find all of this freaking out pretty hilarious.
  • How to Write a Wedding Speech – I wish every best man would read this!

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{my dear friend alison’s gorgeous pacific palisades wedding}

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{new favorite pinot}

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{and favorite party punch from pinot release party}

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{new favorite skincare product – thanks emily!}

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{cuddle time with my (current) favorite newborn, sweet greta jane}

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{and her adorable big brother with his birthday cupcake and his trucks}

Friday Faves

TGIF, everyone! It’s a week before Valentine’s Day, and I have yet to do or make anything fun and festive. This week was taken up by post-Superbowl celebrations, including the parade (of course).  We spent four glorious hours in the freezing cold to cheer on our Superbowl champs, and now I have the cold to prove it.  Hopefully I’ll have my act together in time for next Friday – I have two types of brownies and two types of cookies on my to do list, and I’m going to be at a bachelorette party all weekend, so wish me luck!

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Last year’s Valentines brownies and cookies.

‘Tis the season for gifting flowers.

Dying to try these Nutella cookies.

This website will make sending Valentine’s cards so much easier.

Great idea for a Valentine’s gift.

Love this lip crayon in Roman Holiday.

I just downloaded this book – can’t wait to read it.

And my favorite images of the week:

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Happy Friday, guys! Happy (early) Valentine’s Day, and Go Hawks!!

St. Patty’s Day Dinner: Corned Beef & Cabbage and Grasshopper Brownies

I wish I could tell you that corned beef and cabbage is a family tradition, but truth be told I’d never actually had it until Friday. I’m pretty sure my grandma makes it every year, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid that dinner because honestly, could anything sound less appetizing? Technically, I’ve still never had corned beef (and never will), since I don’t eat red meat, but I did try the cabbage and it was delicious. I asked my dinner guests to give me their honest opinion on the corned beef potatoes, since I had to write about them as honestly as possible without firsthand knowledge, and they promised they were delicious and blog worthy, so here you go.

I’m really going to branch out and start writing about recipes from something other than my favorite cookbook soon, but I think this one is timely enough that it warrants being my fourth Melissa Clark recipe in as many weeks. I had mentioned to a couple friends awhile ago that I wanted to get through the entire “March” chapter, but that I was stuck on corned beef and cabbage – it sounds like my worst nightmare, so why would I ever make it. But when they both told me they loved corned beef and would be happy to be my taste testers, we decided to throw a little St. Patrick’s Day get together. The two best things about this recipe, in my opinion: (1) the corned beef it calls for is deli meat, so I didn’t have to cook it, and (2) it’s easy to make a vegetarian version if you, like me, like to cook meals your friends can enjoy even if they’re things you can’t eat. If you can’t find deli corned beef, though (I couldn’t find it at Safeway or Met Market, but luckily my co-hostess found it at QFC), you could do a corned beef brisket in the crock pot, or use any other deli meat or leftover roast-type meat. And although the vegetarian version is just a stuffed potato with butter and dill, I thought it was delicious and still very Irish.

A note for people unfamiliar with the traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe: from what I could garner from my limited research, it seems the corned beef and cabbage are usually cooked together, in a crock pot or dutch oven or something along those lines. I saw a Paula Deen recipe where she sautéed the cabbage in bacon grease and then added corned beef from a can, like spam. Excuse me while I vomit. I like this recipe because it’s essentially a doctored-up twice baked potato (yum) – I baked the potatoes the night before, but then was able to get everything else together in the hour between leaving work and my guests arriving. And you roast the cabbage as you would any other vegetable (the recipe just calls for oil and salt – I used black pepper as well, and was planning to add a little parmesan before I got distracted and forgot).

So, if you’re looking for an excuse to throw an easy St. Patrick’s Day party, just ask your friends to bring their drink of choice, and perhaps an app or a dessert (my friend Liza made the most delicious “Irish Car Bomb” cupcakes, and my friend Anna invented a fabulous green cocktail, recipe available upon request) and you could easily whip up corned beef and cabbage for ten in an hour. Also noteworthy: I think I spent less than $40 on all of the ingredients (to feed ten people!!) – the Irish might not be known for their cuisine, but I do appreciate their frugality.

And although our meal was delicious, it’s not all that visually appealing…..so I thought I would make some festive green brownies too. I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make these ever since I stumbled upon them when looking for Christmas cookie ideas back in December, and obviously St. Patrick’s Day is the best excuse possible. I hope this inspires some of you to throw a St. Patty’s day party of your own – or at least treat yourself to a Guinness or a fun green cocktail sometime between now and the 17th! If you have any St. Patty’s recipes or traditions of your own, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Baked Stuffed Potatoes with Corned Beef and Dill Butter

from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 4 (I multiplied by 2.5 to feed 10)

4 russet potatoes (10-12 ounces each), scrubbed well
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 pound thinly sliced corn beef, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub each potato with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pierce twice with a fork. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until the skin is crispy and the insides are tender when pierced with a fork, 1 hour to 70 minutes (possibly longer if you’re cooking more potatoes).

2. When the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, use a sharp knife to slice off the tops. Scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch attached to the skin, and transfer to a bowl. Add the corned beef, butter, dill, remaining salt, and pepper to the bowl and mash well with a fork.

3. Stuff the potato skins with the potato mixture.  Divide the topping among the potatoes and sprinkle with the cheese.  Return the potatoes to the oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.  Run under the broiler for an additional 1-2 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Crispy Roasted Cabbage

from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 4-6 (I doubled the recipe to feed 10)

1 pound green cabbage (1 small or 1/2 large), cored (I used two medium-sized heads and they fed 10 perfectly)
Olive or peanut oil, for brushing
Pinch kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the cabbage into 1-inch-thick slices. Brush the slices with olive or peanut oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Try to keep the pieces from falling apart (though if they do start to separate, that is okay).  Sprinkle the cabbage with a generous seasoning of salt.  Roast, turning once, until crispy and browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Valentine’s Brownies, Two Ways

How many heart-shaped cookie cutters is too many?

How many heart-shaped cookie cutters is too many?

One of the saddest days I can remember as a little girl is the day my mom gave me one of her many pieces of unsolicited fashion advice: honey, pink and red don’t go together. I don’t remember what I was wearing – although it would have been the mid-to-late 80s so I’m sure it was atrocious – but I do remember being devastated. So even though I really should hate Valentine’s Day (all those Kay Jewelers commercials are enough to make even the most romantic of us want to vomit), I can’t help but celebrate the one day of the year when that little girl in me gets to mix and match her favorite colors to her heart’s content (heart, ha!). And if it’s also an excuse to make not just brownies, but two different types of brownies – cut into tiny hearts and with salted caramel and cheesecake, no less – all the better.

Brownie #1: Salted Caramel. Smitten Kitchen is one of my all time favorite blogs, food or otherwise. I’m not proud to admit that up until recently, I didn’t really know that brownies could be made from scratch. I honestly thought the Ghirardelli box mix was as gourmet as one could get. But when SK posted these brownies last August, I became obsessed. I’ve probably made them 20 times since then – for summer BBQs, friends with new babies, tailgates, my brother’s engagement party dinner, pretty much any excuse I can find. You can doctor them up with anything from nuts or chocolate chips to toasted coconut or crushed candy canes (which I obviously did at Christmas), but the salted caramel option Deb posted yesterday looked extra delicious so I thought I’d give it a try. The bad news is, I might now be equally as obsessed with making caramel – YUM. The brownies really are so easy, and the caramel is a not-too-difficult extra step. Deb mentions that once you add the butter/cream/salt to the sugar it might not incorporate beautifully – mine didn’t incorporate at all. But if that should happen to you, never fear, once you get the pan back on the heat the sugar melts down again and you have delicious, gooey caramel in no time!

Homemade caramel, yum yum

Homemade caramel, yum yum

Brownie #2: Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake. I’m not typically a huge red velvet person, nor a cheesecake person – but I saw these in the Seattle paper yesterday and they were so darn cute and Pinterest-y I had to make them. I would say these are substantially more work than the first recipe, but still not hard, so if you are a red velvet or a cheesecake person they would definitely be worth the effort. The recipe makes a TON – I wanted to halve it but couldn’t figure out how to divide three eggs by two, and unfortunately I don’t own a mini jelly roll pan. Luckily my coworkers gobbled up the dozens of darling little red, pink and white swirled hearts I brought into the office this morning, but if you aren’t looking to feed an army, I suspect you could cut the recipe in half and just whisk two eggs together and only use about 3/4 of the mixture, and then bake the brownies in a 9 x 13 pan. Martha Stewart always says baking is an exact science, but I think in this case it would be ok. One minor FYI: the recipe mentions your red velvet batter will be thick – this is an understatement. It seemed more like cookie dough than brownie batter to me, but just press it into your jelly roll pan and it will work out fine. The recipe also suggests using the leftover cut out scraps for a red velvet milkshake…..not sure how I feel about that, but as I was dumping all of mine down my disposal last night to keep myself from snacking on them, I couldn’t help but think they would be perfect for cake pops! Maybe next year!

I hope these recipes inspire you guys to do some Valentine’s baking this weekend, or at least to wear your red and pink with pride. Although, sorry Mom, I think J. Crew has been telling us that’s ok now for years. Happy Valentine’s Day!!