Puppy Love Brownie Cupcakes stuffed w/ Lindt Truffles + How-To Video

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Have you ever followed someone you loved around like a lost little puppy dog, unable to focus on any other aspect of life but them? We’ve all been through it, that all-consuming, gleeful, gushing, innocent puppy dog love. Our eyes cloud over with lover’s haze, we float through every hour of every day on a cloud, and no form of reason can reach us. It’s love; we don’t need a reason.

It’s February, which means it’s the season of puppy love. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, that means every fool’s falling in love and chasing the feet of their crushes. Well stop wasting your breath running after them and try a more efficient approach; everyone knows food is the way to the heart. I’ve got you a one-way ticket right here: Puppy Love Brownie Cupcakes stuffed with Lindt Truffles.DSC_0475-2

These are the cutest, lovey-doviest darn cupcakes you could make this Valentine’s Day. And although they look intricate, they’re actually super simple. We start with a boxed mix of brownies to save you time. I find brownies are one of the better baked mixes you can get, but because I live by the philosophy that store-bought mixes are okay if and only if you jazz them up, we stuffed the brownies with silky Lindt truffles. It’s an unexpected bonus to bite into the fudgy, rich cupcake and find a creamy chocolate center. If that doesn’t say “I love you,” then nothing does.

These cupcakes are beautiful inside and out, with their decadent deep chocolate center and their adorable puppy love décor. A combination of creamy Vanilla Buttercream and rich Triple Chocolate Buttercream makes for endless decorating possibilities. Use the frostings in combination with M&Ms and heart-shaped sprinkles to create infinite different combinations of adorable dog faces.

My video breaks down just how easy the basic face is to make: squeeze out some frosting fur as sloppily as you like, it doesn’t need to be perfect, then make two ears and two circles for cheeks. Then you’re free to stick on eyes, draw on mouths, or pipe on slobbery tongue. Let your imagination run wild. Whatever you chose will be adorable.

Ah, puppy love; so much better in a cupcake.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Watch the video to really get a feel for how to make these cuties.
  2. This décor works on any kind of cupcake.
  3. Here’s a bunch of different combinations you can try to make different dogs:Puppy Love Cupcake Brownies
  4. Using store-bought brownie mix is fine since we doctored it up, but don’t you dare use store-bought frosting. That stuff’s nasty, and homemade is so easy.
  5. Not an artist? Don’t worry! You’ll be surprised how simple these are. You don’t need an artsy bone in your body.
  6. When melting chocolate in the microwave, you MUST cook it in short intervals, stirring in between, or it will burn.DSC_0446

Puppy Love Brownie Cupcakes stuffed with Lindt Truffles
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield: About 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • About 2 dozen Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffles
  • Red frosting or writing gel (I used Wilton)
  • Pink frosting or writing gel
  • Black frosting or writing gel
  • Heart-shaped sprinkles
  • Red, pink, & white M&Ms

For the Triple Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 oz. milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. semisweet or unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 – 4 tbsp. heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Special equipment: 2 ziplock bags for frosting the brownies

*NOTE: Brownies are a bit difficult to get out of cupcake liners, so you might want to just spray the pan instead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill two cupcake tins with liners or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Prepare the brownie mix according to box directions. Use an ice cream scoop to fill lined cupcake tins 2/3-full. Drop a Lindt truffle into the center of each one.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until set and cracked on top. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with fudgy crumbs; if it’s clean, you’ll have overbaked them. Let cool completely before removing from tins.
  4. While the brownies cool, make the frostings. For the Vanilla, in a standing mixer, beat sugar into the butter two cups at a time, until well-combined and creamy. With each addition, start a low speed then increase as it starts to incorporate or you’ll have a sugar dust storm.
  5. Beat in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, and heavy cream on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  6. For the Triple Chocolate, place the chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely smooth. If you stir well, this should only take 3 intervals. Let cool slightly.
  7. In a standing mixer, beat sugar into the butter two cups at a time, until well-combined and creamy. With each addition, start a low speed then increase as it starts to incorporate or you’ll have a sugar dust storm.
  8. Beat in the melted chocolate, vanilla, salt, and heavy cream on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  9. Transfer each frosting to a plastic bag, pushing the frosting down to one corner of the bag. Tie off the top and snip off that corner. Pipe fur onto each cooled brownie in little strands. It’ll look kind of like grass. Pipe on two long or short oval ears (you can vary the ear shape/size across the cupcakes to create different looks). Finally, pipe two circles of equal size, right next to one another, centered towards the bottom of the cupcake. You can experiment with different frosting combinations like making a white face with brown ears & one brown eye patch to look like a beagle.
  10. Take either two heart sprinkles or two M&Ms of the same color and place next to one another centered above the circles you made to represent eyes. You can also pipe on white/black to represent eyes.
  11. Place one M&M or heart centered right on top of the two circles to represent the nose. You could also pipe it on with one of the colored frostings.
  12. For the mouth, you can pipe it on in red or pink, or you can use an upside down heart sprinkle to look like a tongue. You can also pipe on a tongue with one of the colored frostings.
  13. Make different faces for each dog, or make them all the same. Have fun and be creative. Store cupcakes in an air-tight container.

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Fudge Brownie Thumbprint Cookies w/ Caramel Drizzle

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Dear Chocolate Lovers of the World,

I’m about to give you the best Christmas present you’ve ever gotten.

These Fudge Brownie Thumbprint Cookies w/ Caramel Drizzle are what your chocolate-covered Christmas dreams are made of. We Chocoholics don’t fantasize about falling snow, mistletoe, or sparkling Christmas trees; we dream about chocolate, piles of chocolate in every form: truffles, bars, cakes, frosting, pudding, and of course, cookies. At Christmastime, you better give us chocolate lovers some seriously chocolaty cookies, or it isn’t really Christmas.

Being a chocoholic myself, I would never deprive my fellow addicts of the supremely chocolatey cookie that’s on the top of their wishlist. These Fudge Brownie Thumbprint Cookies have two intense levels of chocolate, so if the first dose doesn’t send you into a chocolate-enduced euphoria, then the second one surely will. We’ve got super fudgy, chewy brownie cookies that truly are the love child of a moist brownie and handheld cookie. Then, we imprint a little crater in the center and fill it up with rich, velvety fudge. Finally, we finish with a drizzle of sweet caramel, because why? Because we can, and it’s to die for._DSC7527

These heavenly cookies are the total package because, besides being scrumptious, they’re good-looking too. I gave them as gifts to my co-workers, along with several others treats that shall appear next week, and the first thing one of them did upon opening the box was exclaim how pretty they are. But guess what? That elegant presentation is merely a matter of punching a crater in the center of the cookies, filling with fudge, and slopping some caramel on top. It’s the prime example of a perfect holiday cookie: gorgeous, easy to make, and so gosh darn good.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. The key to a perfectly fudgy cookie is not to over-bake them.
  2. Any fudge sauce will do for filling these, but the best EVER is Wegman’s Chocolate Sauce. It’s thick and rich, more like ganache. You could also make homemade ganache to fill them.
  3. The same goes for the caramel; I used Wegman’s caramel sauce. I also recommend Mrs. Richardson’s.
  4. Both the Wegmans sauces can be found in the aisle with the other ice cream toppings.
  5. Also try topping these with a sprinkle of nuts.
  6. This dough freezes great, so make it ahead and freeze then thaw and bake when you’re ready for chocolate heaven.
  7. Mix/beat as little as possible! Over-mixing ruins the fudgy texture._DSC7482

Fudge Brownie Cookie Thumbprints w/ Caramel Drizzle
Cookie base adapted from food.com

Yield – about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 1-oz. unsweetened chocolate squares , melted & cooled to room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 10-oz. jar fudge, chocolate sauce, or ganche – should be thick (Recommended: Wegmans Triple Chocolate Sauce)
  • 1 10-oz. jar caramel sauce (Recommended: Wegmans or Mrs. Richardson’s)

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, oil, and melted chocolate in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium-low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well on low speed.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add about one-1/3 of dry mixture at a time to chocolate mixture, mixing on medium-low speed after each addition. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Shape dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Immediately after removing from the oven, use a flat circle-shaped surface (I used the bottom of a pizza cutter; you could also use a small shot glass or end of a thick spoon handle) to press a crater into the center of each cookie. If you don’t have anything that works for making the imprint, just use your fingers._DSC7496_DSC7500_DSC7503
  6. Cool on wire racks.
  7. Fill craters with fudge/chocolate sauce/ganache. You might want to microwave the fudge for less than 10 seconds just to get it fluid. Let set in freezer for a few minutes then drizzle with caramel. You can do this with a fork or use a plastic condiment dispenser. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Keep in fridge if it’s warm out._DSC7567

Fudge-Filled Brownie Cookies

Warning: the following recipe may be dangerous to anyone who doesn’t love chocolate. Proceed with extreme caution.

Think I’m being over-dramatic? Although I will admit to slightly exaggerating from time to time, this warning I’m extending to you is no joke. My Fudge Filled Brownies Cookies are the deepest, darkest, most chocolatey treats this side of the universe. That much chocolate crammed into one single cookie has enough power to blow your unsuspecting mind.

The texture of this cookie dangles in a parallel universe between that of a cookie and that of a brownie. It looks and feels like a cookie in your hand, but when you bite into it, your teeth sink through to a decadently rich and fudgy center that evokes feelings of pure brownie bliss.

If that’s not enough for you, there’s a river of pure fudge running through these cookies, creating the ultimate chocolate goo factor. And just because I can, I added milk chocolate chunks and semisweet chocolate chips.

Count it: that’s 1, 2, 3, 4 levels of chocolate in these babies!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can omit either the chips or chunks if that’s too much for you.
  2. I highly recommend the Triple Chocolate Sauce from Wegmans that I used. It is so rich and delicious, like an upscale version of average hot fudge. It’s thicker too, like ganache.
  3. Which reminds me, you can make ganache for these instead of using jarred fudge.
  4. I know these sound really rich, but they’re actually not. One of my co-workers who tried one said she thought they’d be too rich, but were actually just right.
  5. Don’t over-bake! That’s the key to a fudgy cookie.

Fudge-Filled Brownie Cookies
Adapted from these Fudgy Chocolate Crinkles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate squares , melted & cooled to room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate cunks
  • 1 10-oz. jar fudge or chocolate sauce (Recommended: Wegmans Triple Chocolate Sauce)

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, oil, and melted chocolate in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; mix in on low speed until well-incorporated.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add about 1/3 of dry mixture at a time to chocolate mixture, mixing on low-speed after each addition. *You don’t want to beat on too high a speed because overmixing produces less fudgy cookies. Mix in chips & chunks. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Shape dough into tablespoon-sized balls and flatten. Place a dollop of fudge on top (about 1 tsp.) and roll the dough up around the fudge so it’s covered. You’re going to get your hands messy! It’s okay if a little fudge seeps out, just make sure it’s pretty much tucked under the dough.
    Place 6 cookies on each baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool on wire racks. Pop ’em in the microwave for a few seconds if you’d like to make them molten again.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Topped Brownie

Sorry for the late post today, folks. One of the many reasons I hate college is that it consumes my every waking hour (and every hour I should be sleeping). Unfortunately, the post just didn’t happen last night. I really hate doing that to you guys because, quite honestly, I care about/love this website way more than I do college. In fact, college is kind of like the rude, overbearing step-mother getting in the way of my relationship with her son. Or you could liken college to the soggy green beans I have to eat at dinner before I enjoy dessert. However you spin it, college is a big freakin’ pain in the butt.

The fact that I’ve still got 2 1/2 years of this misery makes me less than thrilled, but I can at the very least eat away my troubles. As has been the trend around Smart Cookie, I’m pumping out as many pumpkin recipes as I can before the flavor season comes to a depressing end. Today, I made use of some leftover dough from my Warm Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae, and baked it atop a thick slab of rich and fudgy brownies. This is a simple recipe, but you won’t be able to keep your paws off of it. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!

A few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Getting the timing right on adding the cookie dough is tricky. You don’t want to add it until the end because they’ll brown before the brownies are finished.
  2. This concept works with any cookie dough flavor you’d like. Check out my Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies for proof!
  3. Make these brownies a la mode with some pumpkin ice cream.
  4. Lining the pan with parchment paper lets you lift the brownies out effortlessly as if in a makeshift sling. No mess and no fuss!
  5. If you bake this in an 8×8, you’ll have extra dough. Bake it into regular cookies or freeze for later use.
  6. I’m a big believer in going all homemade or at least semi-homemade. So as long as you make the cookie dough, go ahead and use boxed brownie mix.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Topped Brownies

Cookie dough adapted from Baking Illustrated

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 4.4-oz. milk or dark chocolate bar, chopped into chunks (equals about 1 cup of chunks)
  • 1/2 cup additional milk, dark, or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 batch brownie batter, prepared as directed by recipe or box instructions, homemade or store-bought (I used a boxed mix)

Directions:

1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the pumpkin, egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients while beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips and chunks to taste. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour before continuing.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges. Pour prepared brownie batter into pan and bake for 10 minutes less than the box or recipe you’re using states (so if it says bake for 30 minutes, then bake for 20). It should be almost done, but just a bit fudgy in the center still. Drop flattened tablespoons on top of the brownies so that it’s entirely covered and bake for the remaining time until cookies start to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of crumb. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes then use the overhang of parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. slice into squares and enjoy.


Peanut Butter Brownie Balls

Question: what do you do when you’ve got leftover brownies after making my incredible Andes Mint-Mascarpone Ice Cream with Brownie Chunks & Fudge?

Answer: You make brownie balls.

Obviously.

These Peanut Butter Brownie Balls are one-part cute, one-part delectable. Everyone loves brownies to begin with, but they’re even better when you stuff all their fudgy, chocolatey goodness into a poppable chocolate-coated ball. And this ain’t no brownie-flavored-but-not-actually-made-of-brownies imposter. These balls are stuffed with real brownies and peanut butter, nothing else. Does it get anymore magical than that?

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your hungry brain around this, I don’t blame you. Just envision a rich, dark brownie laced with peanut butter swirls. Now take all that salty-sweet wonder and fuse it into a little candy that fits in the palm of your hand. Bam! You’ve got Peanut Butter Brownie Balls, extreme brownie impact in every bite-sized treat.

I sound like a commercial…

NEW! Peanut Butter Brownie Balls have EXTREME CHOCOLATEY POWER. Filled with 100% REAL BROWNIES and their salty side kick PEANUT BUTTER. *pause to flash an image of brownies & a jar of peanut butter against an exploding orange background*

So good, you’ll want to eat them ALL!

*Flash to boy eating Brownie Balls. A little girl comes over and asks,*

“Can I have some?”

*The boy, with his mouth covered in chocolate, cries,*

“No way! They’re too good to share!”

PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIE BALLS, so good, you’ll tell your best friend to screw off and find their own!

Man, these things write themselves! I should definitely go into the commercial writing profession. But in the mean time, I’ll stick to my unpaid day job, which is bringing you completely delicious food like these Peanut Butter Brownie Balls. Dramatic as my commercial may seem, it ain’t no exaggeration; you’ll really want to eat them all. They’re so snackable and addicting. Don’t be surprised when you refuse to share ’em.

Pure brownies + creamy peanut butter, enrobed in smooth chocolate. Honestly, what else could you even need?

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Use what ever brownies you like best. Homemade, from a boxed mix, cakey, fudgy – it all works.
  2. Same goes for the chocolate. Use dark chips instead of milk if you prefer. But you must use some of the baking chocolate or good chocolate since chips don’t have the same melting properties.
  3. These are so quick and easy to make, especially if you’ve already got yourself some brownies.
  4. Hint: you could do this same recipe but replace the peanut butter with Biscoff or Nutella. Yum!
  5. If you don’t have a full batch of brownies, don’t worry. I only had about 1/6 of the pan left. Just tweak the proportions for whatever fraction of brownies you have.
  6. Need a good homemade brownie recipe? Try this one or this one!

Peanut Butter Brownie Balls
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 8×8 pan of brownies (equivalent to 1 boxed mix, or usually 1 homemade batch)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided into 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 cups milk chocolate chips
  • optional: Reese’s Pieces or chocolate sprinkles, for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to mush up the brownies a bit. Add 3/4 cup peanut butter and stir until evenly combined. Cover bowl and stick in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter, semisweet chocolate, and chips in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until completely melted. Make sure you stir in between or you will burn the chocolate. It doesn’t take long to melt (only about 1 1/2 min.) as long as you stir well.
  3. Pull the brownie mixture from the freezer. Roll a scant tablespoon into a ball. Dip into the chocolate mixture so that it is evenly coated. Place on a tray lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Repeat with remaining brownie mix. Garnish with Reese’s Pieces or sprinkles and place in the fridge until completely set.
  4. Store in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge, for up to 5 days.