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 Words have left the building and they have been replaced by drooling.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.
Are you into cookie butter?
It’s basically like peanut butter…except made from pulverized cookies. You know. Because your sweet tooth wasn’t getting enough attention.
I have meant to make a homemade cookie butter recipe for you at Christmas for about three years now (it makes a great foodie gift in a cute jar!)…but every Christmas slides by without me doing it. So if you are asking yourself why I am sharing a warmly spiced spread with you in the middle of a boiling summer….well, it’s Christmas in July this year!
Two weeks ago, we went camping as a family for the first time ever.
After I got over the trauma of packing (you guys: packing everything you could possibly need for your shelter and all your activities outside and food cooked over a camp stove, which you also have to bring along…why did I want to do this, again?), plus my fear of the bear wandering around the state park we camped in, I really had a magnificent time!
We went with my best friend and her family, who are expert campers. They did not even mock me as my tiny percolator boiled over repeatedly, or when I admitted I had left some of the ingredients for our joint dinner on my counter at home. They laughed at me when I whined about how the shower only spouted water for 8 seconds at a time (literally). They waited patiently for Jake as he slowly hiked up his first mountain, and they raced around the campsite with my kids, who were loving all the time outside!
The best part of this whole adventure, obviously, was making s’mores.
How do you like your s’mores? Do you like to toast your marshmallow nice and slow or are you a down-and-dirty, set-it-on-fire type? Either way, you should really consider ditching the campfire (I’m thinking of you: it’s too hot outside for fire!) and making these fancy pants s’mores with toasted marshmallow ice cream instead.
Taste buds, get ready for a treat! It’s cookies. Cookies with everything good in them: cookies filled with more cookies as well as cream cheese and milk chocolate and malted milk powder.
These are sneaky, late night, guilty pleasure cookies. These cookies are the masters of the school yard, and everyone else might as well just go home.
I have a new favorite dessert.
Them be fighting words, people. Favorite is a strong statement.
It’s almond butter cups. You know, like peanut butter cups, but with almonds. And, surprise! Oats! And coconut oil! And maple syrup! Instead of a dry, crumbly nut center, these cups have an almost cookie-like base with homemade chocolate on top.
And the kicker is that they are actually good for you, as far as desserts go! You see, they are full of healthy ingredients like raw cacao powder and raw nuts and unsaturated fats.
I swear no one will never eat one of these and think, “This dessert must be healthy.” Every time I set them out for a group of friends, they disappear practically in the blink of an eye. You should make these. You should make them right away!
Somehow a whole year has flown by, and my baby girl turned 1!
In some ways, it doesn’t even seem real: she still has no teeth and she’s not walking on her own quite yet. Although she loves to enthusiastically yell, “Hi!” on the phone, she still seems to think blowing raspberries is the best form of communication. She’s still my baby—she can’t possibly be a whole year old!
Caitlin has a smile that lights up her whole face. She throws back her head when she grins, and it’s like her entire body quivers with joy. She loves her brother, she loves to explore, she loves hugs, she loves books and ripping paper (not the best combination), and she loves to put every small thing into her mouth. She certainly keeps us on our toes, and we are so glad to know her!
For Caitlin’s first birthday, we threw a bubble bash. I bought bubble machines and wands and set out a bunch of food and we invited friends and family to come celebrate!
I like to call people up on their birthdays and sing to them.
So someone call me up and croon a little tune, because this blog is FIVE YEARS OLD! And I just can’t believe it.
Naturally, to mark the occasion, I baked a cake. Because what good is a birthday celebration without cake?
Happy birthday to Smells Like Brownies! Here’s to five more years of doing things deliciously (and making my family and friends wait around to eat until I finish staging a hundred photos).
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!)
Yesterday, Jake decided to read all of my cookbooks. He pulled pretty much every single book off the shelf, one at a time, to ooh and aah over the glorious photos and recite every single letter in every single recipe title.
That kid. Adorable.
Somehow in the middle of this, I developed a hankering for peanut butter cookies. I’m pretty sure that was Jake’s goal all along.
These are not your average criss-cross peanut butter cookie, oh no. These are thin, crispy-edged delights with soft, gooey centers. These are milk chocolate chip cookies to the max, plus a hint of snickerdoodle. In short, these peanut butter beauties are all kinds of amazing.
I know you are probably getting sick of sweets from me. And I was all geared up to share a few simple savories…but then I realized it’s going to be Valentine’s day very soon.
And I have a long tradition of covering you in chocolate for Valentine’s day. Chocolate is, after all, one of my first loves.
So here we are. And you may, if you have been tracking with me for a while, notice something special about the amazing pastries I am sharing with you today: they are full of BUTTER!
Woot! Caitlin’s pediatrician cleared me to eat dairy again. This may or may not have happened two days after I had a small psychotic break and ate a cupcake that I totally meant not to eat.
Anyway. You better believe I have been loading up on all the cheese and butter and cream I have been craving for the last few months. Because as delicious as food can be without dairy, it’s hard to achieve true decadence in the absence of butter.
So I decided this year that we would indulge in breakfast instead of saving all our chocolate for dessert. (Though, let’s be honest, these strudels make an amazing dessert if you have the patience to wait for dinner time!)