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Cookie Butter Truffle Brownies

Sticky Cookie Butter Truffle Brownies

Oh my word.

I have no words. Words have left the building and they have been replaced by drooling.

Cookie butter. Truffle. Brownies.

You see, my friends, this is exactly what is so great about the Secret Recipe Club! When I fall into a dessert rut, I love exploring the creativity of other bakers, like Tracy of Pale Yellow.

I started out this month planning to make a healthy dinner. I had even geared myself up to make a vegetarian version of Tracy’s taco salad. But my mind just kept drifting back to her desserts, amazing treats like Chocolate Hazelnut Cake and Fancy Pants Brownies and Tiramisu Cheesecakes. And, oh glory, cookie butter truffle brownies. A match made in heaven.

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Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies

When I first started this blog, I was intending to post only about desserts, all the best and most delicious and exciting desserts I could think of.

(I was also sure I would become an overnight sensation despite my deep ineptitude with social media and complete lack of ability to use a camera properly. I basically had no idea what I was doing.)

I fretted for about five months over the perfect name. That’s a crazy amount of time. I would have failed really hard as a marketing major.

In the end when I landed on Smells Like Brownies, a name that conjured homeyness and rich flavor for me, I made mental plans to bake brownies every month. Like my “thing” could be brownies. Note: I did not plan to gain 20 pounds.

I was such a little baby blogger then! I started with one pan of the fanciest brownies I could think of, and then the next week I ruined a batch of caramel sauce and promptly decided I could not survive on desserts alone.

Now, almost five years later, I am finally circling back to brownies with caramel. And boy howdy are these good! (Plus, no caramel-making involved!)

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Raw Fudge Brownies

Raw Fudge Brownies

If you know me, you may know that I occasionally go on a one-woman crusade against refined sugar.

(Whaaaat!? Give up refined sugar? But…what about dessert? For heaven’s sake, your blog isused to be named after brownies, girl! No one can live without sugar. Forget diamonds, chocolate is a girl’s best friend.)

This first started as I became aware of how much sugar is in everyday foods, such as mayonnaise and bread and salad dressing and granola. At that time I had a young baby, and I was bound and determined that he would not eat any refined sugar, ever (hah). I started researching the effects of sugar on the body, and it led to making a New Year’s resolution to avoid all refined sugar for 31 days.

I never intended to give up sugar long-term, but here are a few things that happened during that month:

  1. at first, I was reallly, reallly hungry, and quite a bit cranky, but then my hunger levels started to regulate;
  2. I became more adventurous in what I ate;
  3. I stopped binge-snacking during my kid’s nap time because I was thinking more about what would be good for me to eat, and I was avoiding most of my lazy snack foods;
  4. people started telling me how thin I looked. I didn’t really lose weight during this time, but eating no refined sugar and less highly refined carbs in general actually made my body shape change! I did not exercise one single time, so this was definitely a result of my sugar fast;
  5. I felt really proud of myself;
  6. I still totally ate dessert! Because, let’s face it, no big change in your diet will be sustainable unless you find ways to include the things you really love. For me, that is dessert!
  7. everything tasted sweet even without refined sugar. When I finally started eating sugar again, I ate much smaller amounts (initially anyway) because it was overwhelmingly sweet and honestly made me feel a little sick for a few weeks.

I write a food blog and I love to bake, so I did go back to eating sugar. But I enjoyed my sugar fast more than I expected! So much that I repeat it a few times a year, especially if I have been going overboard with sugary foods or if I am feeling out of balance or mentally/physically/emotionally unhealthy.

Since my first refined sugar fast, clean eating has become quite trendy. Basically, eating “clean” involves aiming for whole, nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding highly refined foods.

These raw brownies totally fit that bill, and they are completely delicious. Not only are they sweetened entirely by the naturally occurring fruit sugars in Medjool dates, but they are full of healthy things, like raw nuts and raw cacao! They are chewy and dense and chocolatey and rich, so rich. (Plus, they are other good things, like vegan and gluten-free!)

Raw brownies will satisfy any dessert craving, and you can feel good about eating them!

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Double Pretzel Brownies

Double Pretzel Brownies

Do you remember when pretzel m&ms came out? They were comically marketed as the perfect solution to crazy pregnancy cravings: sweet and salty all in one bite!

As if sweet and salty isn’t something I love every day of the year. The flavor combination has become much more mainstream in recent years. And as for me, my palate has become more developed (thank you, food blogging), which means I now sometimes actually find desserts too sweet, and find myself wishing for some spice, some salt, some crunch for balance.

Light bulb! Pretzels brownies.

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Salty Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Salty Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I am just going to warn you right now that the baking monster has been on a bit of a crazy rampage lately. And I am going to unabashedly point my finger right at Sarah of Well Dined. It’s totally her fault.

Several weeks ago, she confessed that she was afraid of baking cookies from scratch…and something inside my brain popped. Instead of cooking (somewhat) healthy lunches together each week, we started baking decadent desserts like it was no big deal.

But, friends…it was a big deal. I can’t stop baking.

So just get ready for an onslaught of brownie and cookie recipes, because it’s happening.

Starting here. With the very brownies that broke my willpower to not eat desserts. (Let’s be honest, that willpower wasn’t back to full strength after its pregnancy vacation, so it didn’t really stand a chance.) These brownies are thick and cakey and sweet and salty and all the things that are good about peanut butter and chocolate together. Make them. Who needs willpower?

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Baker’s One-Bowl Brownies

Baker's One-Bowl Brownies

Do you know what I just realized?

I have been so obsessed over the years with blogging special, fancy brownie recipes that I have never actually shared my favorite classic brownie recipe with you!

The Baker’s people really knew what they were doing when they developed this one-bowl brownie recipe (and let’s all just agree that anything you can make from scratch using only one bowl is pretty wonderful!).

This is my go-to brownie recipe because these brownies come out perfect every time. They are a little fudgy and a little chewy and definitely chocolatey. They only take about 5 minutes to get into the oven! And…I was recently told when I made these for a friend that they were the best brownies she had ever had.

Are you convinced yet?

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Malted Whopper Brownies

Malted Whopper Brownies

Get ready. These brownies are all kinds of amazing.

The actual brownie part is fudgy and malt chocolate flavored and full of chewy pockets of baked-in malt balls. Topped off with a rich ganache and more malt balls?

Are you running for the kitchen yet? Are you checking your cupboards for that enormous, movie-size box of Whoppers you bought a month ago to see if there are any left?

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Almond Butter Brownies

Almond Butter Brownies

You guys, I really just haven’t made brownies in such a long time. It’s probably because I am seriously trying to deprive myself of refined sugar.

But every now and then I remember the name of this blog, and I think that I should treat myself (and you) to a yummy brownie. And then I binge on delicious looking photos and by the time I have done that for 30 minutes, my brain is exploding with ideas and it’s the middle of dark o’clock and I honestly just can’t stomach the thought of chocolate.

Luckily for me, I ran across an interesting brownie recipe entirely by chance when I was perusing my Secret Recipe Club blog of the month, Fit Mama Real Food (though I admit I was somewhat tempted to put on my yoga pants and write about her post-baby fitness regime instead of…um…brownies). Anyway. These brownies are full of almond butter! Not peanuts (am I insane for being perfectly happy to keep my chocolate and peanut butter separate?)! Lovely.

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Mint Brownies

Mint Brownies

When I was in college, my best friend used to come visit me once a semester. Several times when she made the trip, she also lugged her baking equipment with her. We would wedge ourselves into the tiny, communal kitchen and whip up a batch of mint brownies. Later, we would sit ourselves down with the pan and two forks to watch chick flicks. By the end of the weekend, almost all the brownies would be gone and all of our clothes would be a bit tighter.

I have such fond memories of these brownies. Now that I am out of school, they have become a part of my Christmas tradition. With their pretty green, minty layer, they certainly fit right in with the season!

And hey, if they are easy enough to make in an ill-equipped college dorm, you can definitely pull them off, no sweat! The only hard part is waiting til after the frosting sets to eat them.

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