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 Words have left the building and they have been replaced by drooling.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 is 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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Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats

Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats

You really shouldn’t be surprised by what I’m about to tell you.

After all, I have a long, illustrious history as a picky eater. I know it’s mind-boggling that a person could hate fruit and all fruit-flavored things, donuts, fried stuff in general, tea, the flavor of honey and maple syrup, but it’s all true. Plus, the real reason I became a vegetarian (you know…aside from hoping to become healthier) is just that I don’t like meat.

So you really shouldn’t be surprised:

I have never liked Rice Krispie treats.

When I went off to college and discovered that not all Rice Krispie treats were Scotch Krispies, I simply avoided them in the dessert line. While all my friends would stampede toward the sweets on a day that Rice Krispie treats were available, I would meander around and grab an extra bagel (please and thank you, freshman 15…).

It should also not surprise you, then, to learn that I have never made Rice Krispie treats before.

But last week my husband drove off with our grocery cart and came back with two bags of marshmallows, a box of Rice Krispies, and a glint in his eye.

And do you know what? When I was trying to decide how to make peace with the Rice Krispies and marshmallows, I found a recipe that used brown butter and toasted marshmallows (um, nom!). At first I felt a little mean, deviating from the standard. I knew what Dave really wanted.

But these treats are really good! Still classic, with that stretchy, crunchy, almost-too-sweet marshmallow flavor, but also caramel, a rich hint of toasty brown that…might…actually…make me reverse my anti-Krispie stance.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Brownie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Brownie Bars

I’m in the middle of my second one of these cookie-brownie bars as I type this, smearing my keyboard with buttery fingers and dropping tiny shards of Oreo between the keys.

I’m actually not sure I’m going to be able to stop eating these. They are that good!

If you live within a 5-mile radius of me, have mercy and come over to eat some sugar. Save me from myself!

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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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Brownie Cheesecake Ice Cream

Brownie Cheesecake Ice Cream

As you may know, it’s National Ice Cream Month. A month I intend to celebrate enthusiastically! (Okay…I may have jumped the gun a little and started celebrating early. And I will probably still be celebrating in August.)

Initially I really struggled to figure out what ice cream recipes to share with you this month. What could be better than Nutella ice cream or cookies and cream ice cream or cake batter ice cream? I am quite predictable in my ice cream selections…and I just didn’t see how I could come up with something new to try when I had already turned all my favorite things into ice cream!

But then it hit me: brownie cheesecake. Awesome!

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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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