Monday, February 27, 2012

3-2-1 Mug Cake

In my previous post, I extolled the virtues of homemade brownie mix. I have jars of it waiting to be cooked, in between the other various desserts that are my downfall.

But there IS a good use for packaged mixes!  This one's going around the internet - I've seen it on at least 5 blogs the past week - so I just had to try it.

Take one box, any flavor, of cake mix, and put it in a gallon-sized zip storage bag. Add one box angel food cake mix (the size that makes a tube/bundt cake, not the small one that makes only a loaf pan). Seal the bag and shake to combine.

Put 3 tablespoons of the mix in a microwave-safe mug. Add 2 tablespoons of water and stir to combine. Cook on HIGH in the microwave 1 minute. Eat.

I made my first mix using German chocolate, and opened up the can of coconut-pecan frosting I've had in the pantry for months and put a spoonful on top. You could also try Hershey's syrup, or whipped cream, or ice cream.  If you use other flavors of cake mix, you could try berries, or caramel sauce, or lemon curd - the possibilities are endless.

What do I like best about this?

Portion control.  It's "just right."

A Big Batch of Brownie Mixes - Secret Recipe Club

I was assigned Kelli's blog Ambition's Kitchen for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment. I've spent many hours going through nearly all of her recipes, and found several different ones I want to try.  But the one that grabbed my attention was one of her Frugal Friday posts.  Every Friday, Kelli gives a recipe for something that is usually store-bought, but is cheaper and usually better for you when it's homemade.  She's given us pudding pops, Larabars, aluminum-free baking powder, maple pancake syrup, and more. The one I chose to make was the homemade brownie mix.  I had plenty of flour and sugar, and last month I bought a bag of Ghirardelli dark cocoa.  I wanted to make multiple batches, so I got out some large mason jars I'd bought for baking small loaves of bread.  As I began to dish out the ingredients, I realized that the jars were too small - I needed quart-sized, not pint-sized.  My husband came up with the solution - just put half the ingredients in one jar, and use two jars for a batch of brownies.

He's so smart.

In less than 10 minutes I'd measured out 5 batches - four into the jars and one into a bowl.   Then to the bowl, I added the wet ingredients; then put the batter into a 9" stoneware pan. 20 minutes later, they came out of the oven -- dark, rich, decadent brownies.  I chose not to do any mix-ins, and these are so good they don't need frosting.  (Though I love a good frosting!) They hold together when cut, and are perfectly fudgy; just the way I like them.

Brownie Mix

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder or nonfat milk powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup add-ins, such as chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

In a medium bowl (or deli container), combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, buttermilk powder, baking powder, salt, and whisk (or shake) to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips and add-ins (if using). Store airtight.

To make fudgy brownies

Brownie Mix (above)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Dump the Brownie Mix into a bowl. Add the oil, water, vanilla, and egg, and stir just to blend.
3. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
Makes 16 brownies

Just for comparison, here's the ingredient list on a box of Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownies:

Enriched Bleached Flour (wheat flour, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
Chocolate Flavored Syrup (high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, water, cocoa, salt, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 60, xanthan gum and vanillin)
Cocoa Processed with Alkali
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil
Contains 2% or less of: Corn Starch, Salt, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavor

I like the homemade mix better, anyway!

Follow the links below for more great recipes from the Secret Recipe Club!