Many adults have fond, childhood memories of being awakened on Saturday mornings by comforting smells of a special, homemade breakfast lovingly made by a parent or caregiver. In the southern part of the United States, a special breakfast may be comprised of bacon, buttermilk biscuits (and sausage gravy), pancakes, coffee, and/or orange juice.
As a child, I, on the other hand, was awakened on Saturday mornings, not by the intoxicating smell of a home-cooked breakfast, but by the loud, grating sound of the smoke alarm, which always indicated that my mom was attempting to partially follow yet another recipe. I say “partially” because my mom used to halve part of a recipe and kept the rest as is. For example, she would halve the amount of eggs and sugar called for, yet she would include the full amount of dry ingredients, which would yield, needlessly to say, a disfigured, unpleasant, inedible treat
One day my mother found a recipe for Magic Muffins on the side of a Malt-O-Meal box. Once I heard the timer (read: smoke alarm) go off, I woke up and jumped out of bed to see what this week’s culinary “masterpiece” would be.
Entering the living room, I saw my mom in the kitchen with her back turned, and she was talking under her breath. Then she held up and inspected her latest creation while the sunlight beamed on it proudly. From where I stood it looked like a small, brown, round, hard
rock muffin with steam sashaying slowly out of it. Upon hearing my gasp or snicker (or both), she turned around quickly with an embarrassed look on her face. With feigned pride shivering in her face, she exclaimed, “LOOK! I made magic muffins…but I think they came out a little hard.” After five minutes of joint laughter, she decided to hurl the hockey puck muffin against the wall — it left a small dent that is probably still there to this day.
It isn’t entirely my mother’s fault for not knowing how to cook; in fact, now that I’ve taught her how to resist the urge to NOT follow or (to completely) halve recipes, she is able to make more dishes, including homemade bread!
Anyway, the story goes that my grandmother was an excellent cook who provided large, hearty portions of yummy, irresistible meals to the table every day, such as spaghetti and meatballs (which I learned is an unheard-of combination in Italy). When my grandmother cooked, she liked peace and quiet in the kitchen, so every time one of her six children offered to help her, she would quickly dismiss them by telling them to go play outside.
As a result, only two out of the six children are considered good cooks, and their spouses actually taught them how to cook. Then as for me, I learned how to cook from food blogs, FoodGawker, and my tendency to follow recipes to the letter before making creative, personal changes to them.
Once I became comfortable in the kitchen, I began improvising by adding different ingredients or by using different pans or presentation of the finished product, as I did with these Oreo Truffle Brownies!
I found the recipe for these delectable brownies on Pink Parsley and made a HALVED portion. At the last minute, I decided to place the brownie batter in a 9″ (23cm) springform pan instead of an 8×8 (20x20cm) or 9×9″ (23x23cm) baking pan. Just by baking them in a springform pan, these brownies looked more like an elegant cake. To provide a contrast of flavors and for aesthetic reasons, I added frozen raspberries to the edge of a slice. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the tart, bright berries with the sweet, deep, rich, chocolate flavor of the brownies.
These brownies are a more complex version of Oreo truffles (remember the popular balls of crushed Oreos and cream cheese?). The base is a brownie with Oreo truffle and ganache layers on top. Although I halved this recipe, I had to make another batch of the Oreo truffle layer in order cover the brownie. Also, I had some ganache leftover so you can make individual truffles with it (chill it first!) or make a third of the ganache recipe (if you’re halving the brownie recipe).
These Oreo Truffle Brownies make Oreo Truffles seem lackluster! 😉 While they take longer to make and require the oven, they taste and look like an expensive, elegant, overly tedious dessert. I accidentally cooked the brownie layer longer than Pink Parsley did. I thought I had ruined it, but I actually liked the contrast of the dense, chewy, cake-like brownie with the other, more silky layers.
Oreo Truffle Brownies
HALVED and adapted from Pink Parsley who adapted it from Chef in Training via Good Thymes & Good Food
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (57g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-2 tsp vanilla extract (o 1-2 bustine di vaniglia) (I like extra vanilla!)
2/3 cups (83g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (30g) of cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti)
1-2 tsp coffee or espresso powder (to enhance chocolate flavor; optional)
1/4 tsp salt
OREO TRUFFLE LAYER (I ended up making the full recipe):
30 Oreo cookies or chocolate wafer cookies/biscuits
6 oz (170g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (118ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
5 oz (142g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350° F/180°C and line a8x8-inch baking pan or 9″springform pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the two long sides. Spray with baking or cooking spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand or electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk flour, cocoa, coffee/espresso powder, and salt in a separate bowl and set aside. To the butter and sugar, add 2 eggs one at a time and vanilla extrace. Mix well, scraping down the bowl, as necessary. Add dry ingredients, and mix everything until just combined. Do not over mix!
- Place batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (test with a toothpick; there should be just a few crumbs attached). Transfer brownies to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the Oreo truffle layer. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse cookies and the cream cheese together until combined. You may need to stir things around between pulses.
- Once brownies are completely cool, spread the Oreo truffle layer over brownies with an offset spatula, clean hands, or the bottom of a cup.
- To make the ganache, heat the cream in small saucepan over medium heat until it is simmering or simply microwave it for 30-45 seconds. Meanwhile, place the chocolate chips in a medium heat-proof measuring cup or bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Pour the ganache over Oreo layer and spread with an offset spatula. Chill in the refrigerator until fully set. To slice and serve, lift the brownies out of the pan using the foil overhang, then use a sharp knife to cut into small squares. If using springform pan, simply remove the edges and serve! These brownies taste good cold and warm!