Caramel Chocolate-Chip Walnut Chocolate Brownies

This recipe is a twist on typical caramel brownies.

Like caramel brownies? You’ll Love these!

I’m sharing this recipe that was handed down by my mom. I have no idea where she found it or if it was supposed to be a secret I’ll take to my grave (shhhh), but these are delicious and a Christmas staple in our home. Decadent Caramel Brownie Recipe - Heaven Not Harvard

Ingredients
  • 1 pkg German Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 pkg caramel bits (found in baking aisle near other baking chips)
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (or margarine)
  • 1 5 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt the butter and add to dry cake mix with 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk. Combine until smooth. Pat 2/3 mixture into greased 13×9 pan (my pan is non-stick and I didn’t have to spray it). Best baking pans ever.

You may need to spray your hands with cooking spray in order keep it from sticking to your fingers. Patting the mixture will take some patience to stretch out half the batter to cover the bottom of your pan, but it will stretch.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until center appears fairly firm.

While mixture is baking, pour the bag of caramel bits and cover with 1/3 cup evaporated milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 3-4 min. Then stir until smooth.

Once you’ve removed brownie mixture from oven, let it rest for 1-2 minutes until slightly cooled. Pour caramel over the top, cover completely. (Lightly salt if you would like – do not salt if you used salted butter) Sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts. Then by spoonful, pat remaining mixture flat and place atop caramel. Remaining mixture should almost cover entire surface but leave little rivers of caramel open.

Bake at 350° for 18-20 min. Edges should be firm and starting to darken, center should not jiggle much when moved. But getting it just done without going over takes careful watching and knowing your oven.

Cool, cut into squares and *hide* if you intend on serving them later.

These decadent caramel brownies are only semi-homemade, but taste like you spent hours on them. Using the German chocolate cake mix adds a different flavor profile than a devil’s food or chocolate cake would, but I’d be interested in hearing variations.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Reindeer Cookies

Want to learn how to make the tastiest activity this Christmas season? Reindeer Cookies Recipe and directions - Heaven Not Harvard

Saturday was the 50th Anniversary of the first airing of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. I wasn’t born when it first aired, but not too long after. It is part of some of my earliest Christmas memories.

To celebrate, we watched the movie I’ve carefully kept on the DVR for over a year, then we made reindeer cookies. My daughter had her little friends over, they all sat on the same Tinkerbell chair (3 tushies one chair, LOL), then they helped shape the cookies and press in the pretzel antlers. We sang Rudolph at the top of our lungs as we nibbled pilfered M&Ms from the bowl. Just the sweet kind of memory I’ll hold onto, even if she can’t yet.

To be fair, I saw this recipe in the December issue of Parents magazine, but when I saw that it was the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Rudolph, I was inspired to throw together these fun reindeer cookies.

I used the recipe suggested in the magazine, but found it a bit dry and the cookies didn’t hold up well. They were so fragile many broke getting them off the cooling racks or into the container.

I prefer my tried and true Better Homes and Gardens “Cookies Cookies Cookies” Whole Wheat-Peanut Butter Blossoms – which usually contain Hershey Kisses in the middle, but would do nicely for these cookies.

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  •       1 tsp baking powder
  •       1/2 tsp baking soda
  •       1/2 cup shortening
  •       1/2 cup peanut butter
  •       1/2 cup sugar
  •       1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I prefer light brown sugar)
  •       1 egg
  •       2 tbsp milk
  •       1 tsp vanilla
  •       mini pretzels
  •       red M&Ms, candy eyeballs, or green M&Ms 

     

  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the shortening and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. And the sugar and brown sugar and beat til fluffy. Then add egg, milk, and vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Now – combining the two recipes

Roll dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches, then shape into triangles, press triangles until semi-flattened. Press mini pretzels into top corners of the triangles. Bake 8-10 minutes until edges just start to firm up. Once removed from the oven, quickly press red candy into the tip of triangles as noses and your “eyes” of choice into the face of your reindeer.

Allow to cool on cookie sheet for one minute or so, then carefully transfer to cooling rack.

Notes – We had problems with the pretzels not sticking to the cookies. We might try dipping them in chocolate to make them stick if using the Better Homes and Gardens recipe doesn’t correct the problem – Who doesn’t like chocolate covered pretzels, right? Also, be careful pressing out your triangles as the thinner ones had issues with the corners breaking off at the pretzels.

If you try these, let me know what tricks worked for you and what didn’t. They were loads of fun for the kids, and a great festive way to celebrate.

 

Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

Holidays are all about the magic of traditions and memories. One of our favorite traditions is of course the food, and a magical sweet potato casserole is one of our Thanksgiving dinner must haves!

This year my daughter is finally old enough to understand the traditions I’m building around our home. She helped me set the table and fold the napkins, fussing over every fold, even for just us three.

We celebrated early this year because – ARMY, sigh. And my tiny chef helped me make our salted caramel sweet potato casserole. We like a plain sweet potato, but adding salted caramel and pecans make this casserole SING.  

Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

I’m not much for measuring. I just eyeball everything, but I used this recipe myself today and our casserole was perfection!

This recipe will fill an 8×11 baking dish or a medium casserole dish. I tend to use a shallow baking dish so the topping to sweet potato ratio is balanced, but you can decide for yourself. I like to use a pan that will go from fridge to oven to microwave multiple times for leftovers!

This Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato casserole is magical and will make your Thanksgiving! Click To Tweet

Recipe –

Approximately 6-8 cups fresh sweet potatoes cubed and boiled until fork tender or two 40 oz. cans of yams, drained completely.

Use potato masher to smash to a rough texture. Potatoes can be whipped smooth if you prefer.

If you use fresh, add 1/4-1/2 cup light brown sugar to taste. Prefer it sweeter? add more, but the topping is so sweet, I limit brown sugar in the potatoes.

If you use the canned potatoes, they are in syrup so don’t need any additional sweetening.

If you want to measure, start with small amounts and taste often so you know how much to use next time.

Liberally sprinkle cinnamon over yams, add pumpkin pie spices 1/4-1/2 tsp of each: cloves, allspice, nutmeg. Then a liberal dash of salt (probably a tablespoon or two).

Stir to incorporate and spoon into your casserole dish.

Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole -Starting a new tradition or want a new recipe for an old one? This sweet potato casserole is magical. It will have your mouth (and kids) giggling!

For caramel –

1 stick of butter melted in sauce pan with 1/4 cup light Karo syrup, 1 cup brown sugar. Add salt to taste. I used a liberal teaspoon of popcorn salt because it is finer and dissolves nicely.

Melt until sugar dissolves, then add pecans (about 1 1/2-2 cups)

Then salt to taste. I like mine pretty salty. Spread over top of potatoes. Bake 30-40 min. At 350 degrees. Covered for 30 and uncovered 5-10 minutes.

Looking for a special recipe to wow your family, try this Salted Caramel Pecan Sweet Potato… Click To Tweet

Watching my daughter really understand Thanksgiving this year, her eyes light up at the feast and just be overjoyed that we were together was pretty special. But my favorite part of cooking for our family is watching her first bite.

If something is sweet and delicious, her eyes get wide, and then she laughs.  One bite of these sweet potatoes and she dissolved into hysteria. She giggled through our entire meal. It was pretty perfect.

We did give her time to run off all the sugar before dessert .  .  .

I hope your family enjoys this sweet potato recipe as much as mine did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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