Monday, June 24, 2013

Red Velvet "Flag" Brownies

Red Velvet "Flag" Brownies - made June 23, 2013, brownie recipe from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
I still have more recipes from my Cookie-Palooza bakingfest last week to put up but I'm blogging out of order so I can get this post up before the 4th of July.  Just in case anyone wants to make something similar and needs lead time in finding the appropriately colored M&Ms.  I don't pay much attention to M&Ms since I don't really eat them unless they're in a cookie.  But I've been marginally aware that there seems to be an explosion of them on the shelves in all sorts of flavors: dark chocolate, white chocolate, mint, peanut butter, almond, coconut, pretzel, and who knows what else besides the ubiquitous plain and peanut.  I'm also aware that they put out specially-colored ones around certain holidays: pastels for Easter, black and orange for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, browns and oranges for the "autumn mix".  So, since Independence Day is nigh upon us, I thought for sure I'd find red, white and blue ones. Wrong. Target didn't have them.  Neither did Michaels and that exhausted 2 of the 5 stores I regularly shop at for baking supplies/ingredients (Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table being the other 2 for more high end, specialty ingredients and amazon the 5th as my standby source).  Amazon didn't carry them unless you counted the links to candy outlets and the M&Ms online store but then you'd have to order them in each individual color for an arm and a leg or pay 2 arms and 1 1/2 legs for one bag of "USA blend". Plus shipping.  That seemed like an extravagance line I couldn't bring myself to cross, not even in the name of baking indulgence. Don't get me wrong - I've crossed that line plenty of times but not just to get a certain color of M&Ms. That just feels silly.
So I improvised.  I already knew I wanted to make these red velvet brownies again because they're delicious. And, fortunately, they come with a white chocolate frosting so I already had the background color for the flag, which was especially fortuitous because the white M&Ms are what I didn't have a substitute color for.  The white frosting would have to serve. In a regular bag of plain M&Ms, the red was already the right color.  The blue was not since it leans more towards teal than the dark blue of the American flag. But I couldn't afford to be picky.  Plus, unless I wanted to make one huge flag brownie, I couldn't accurately capture the flag in M&Ms anyway (try spacing out 50 white M&Ms to represent the states of the union).  So we'll have to consider this just a rendition of it.
At first I tried making the design with regular-size M&Ms but that made for a pretty big flag and an I'm-going-to-be-sick-if-I-eat-the-whole-piece size brownie.  So I went with mini M&Ms instead and got something more normal-size, albeit still a trifle big. If you're going to make this, I advise designing with your M&Ms on a piece of parchment first before you start dropping them onto the frosted brownie, just to make sure you know how you want it to look. BTW, the fun part of this exercise is it forced me to really look at the flag and know which color stripe was on top, which just below the blue portion and which was on the bottom.  My first attempt was a little sketchy (notice the roughness of the frosting and the unevenness of the M&M placement) so I had to try a second one for a slight improvement.  I didn't have the patience to sift through the rest of the bag of mini M&Ms and keep picking out the blue and red ones or the artistic temperament to line them up perfectly or consistently on each one so I only decorated two pieces.  For the rest, I defaulted to the red, white and blue sprinkles from a bottle I bought at Michaels and was able to cut them smaller since it didn't matter how many sprinkles are on each one.  You get the idea.  If you make this ahead of time, cover the brownies tightly with plastic wrap to keep the cut edges from drying out.
Happy Birthday America!
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 8 x 8 pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix cocoa powder, food coloring and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla to form a paste. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then add second teaspoon of vanilla. With mixer on medium, beat in cocoa paste. Add flour and salt, and mix just until combined.
  4. Spread in pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 tablespoon milk
  1. Cream butter with mixer till fluffy. Add vanilla. 
  2. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, then white chocolate. Add enough milk to reach desired consistency. Ice cooled brownies or pipe a star of icing on individual brownies

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