Posted by on Sep 14, 2010 in Recipe | 5 comments

So, as a few of you may know, I attempted to make brownies on Sunday (9/12/10) following a new recipe that I had [of course] tweaked. Let me just say that I rarely watch television, and when I do it’s usually FoodNetwork that’s playing…and I love Barefoot Contessa and her recipes. Ina Garten’s recipes have never failed me thus far – till now that is.

After being requested to make brownies, I hopped on trusty ol’ and searched for a recipe that called out to me. Ina’s Peanut Swirl Brownies seemed perfect. Not too sweet, but still fudgey enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and a serious brownie craving.

The result?

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Crumbling Tower of Chocolate.

Upon taking it out of the oven, it looked perfect. Once I tried to run a knife through it, my confidence was starting to falter. These were definitely not like any other brownies I’ve made before. Crumbling and falling apart, I was eating it out of a bowl instead of eating it on the go. Despite its inability to stay in one piece for more than a minute, it was still moist and dense in the places with peanut butter swirls. Truthfully, it didn’t taste half bad, but a brownie that was actually a crumbling piece of chocolate was a failure in my book.

So here’s where I confess my faults. I’ve never had too much trouble with new recipes before, my own ‘inventions’ and ‘concoctions’ are usually pretty tasty [though perhaps not plated to be aesthetically pleasing], and how could I mess up making such a simple recipe like brownies?! It was mind-boggling.

And so I whined and sulked and pouted and complained about my “brownie depression” to everyone who cared (and didn’t care) to listen. Eventually, a good friend of mine gave me the best idea. Why not make a trifle? Carissa, did I ever tell you that you’re a brilliant genius?

Encouraged and determined to redeem my baking/cooking skills, I managed to transform my fail brownies into a giant bowl of trifle that impressed even me.

So? What do you think? Pretty nice, eh?

Okay, so it may not be that pretty but I tried my best.

Anyway, now that I’m done telling my tale I shall let you readers do the judging for yourself with the following two recipes…

I still don’t know if the ‘brownies’ came out the way they were due to my fiddling with the recipe or due to my oven not cooking evenly. Either way, here’s my version of the recipe.

Peanut Swirl Brownies


  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 8 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 3 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a double boiler (or a makeshift one as I did), melt the butter and chocolate over simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water or else the chocolate may burn.

In a large bowl, mix the coffee, vanilla, sugar, flour, and nuts (nuts don’t have to be pecans, whatever you prefer is fine). Mix in eggs one at a time. Once the chocolate mixture is all melted, pour it into the batter and mix well.

Grease your baking sheet/pan with a light layer of butter. After pouring the chocolate batter into the baking pan, use two spoons to evenly place dollops of peanut butter on top of the batter. (Peanut butter does not necessarily have to be chunky, it can be creamy or whatever you’d like it to be.) Use a butter knife to swirl through the peanut butter globs and marble them throughout the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Note: As an afterthought, I’m actually starting to wonder if the brownies were so crumbly because I didn’t put them in the refrigerator. Hmm. If anyone tries this out, tell me how it goes!

If you like brownies, pudding, and whipped cream then this is a combination you won’t be able to resist. With French Vanilla Pudding on top, Cheesecake pudding on the bottom, and homemade whipped cream sandwiched in between, brownies go from plain to plain awesome. Oh, did I mention the strawberries?



  • 1 pack instant brownies (or homemade)
  • Instant pudding mix (pick your own flavors and amount)
  • whipped cream
  • fruit of choice
  • fat-free milk (use as many cups as the instructions depict)

This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious to boot! It’s also very versatile as you can choose your own flavors of pudding and add whichever kinds of fruit you prefer.

Bake the brownies according to the package instructions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding (once again following package instructions) and set to the side.

Crumble your brownies, or press them firmly to the bottom of the bowl to make the first layer. Add and arrange fruits along the sides of the bowl. Pour in pudding/whipped cream. Layer with brownies, etc. Repeat. (Make as many or as few layers as you would like in any arrangement.)

Chill before serving.

Recipe for homemade whipped cream:


  • heavy cream
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla extract

Depending on how much whipped cream you would like to make, buy more or less heavy cream. Flavor to your own tastes. Whip with an electric beater/hand mixer until the cream forms as stiff peaks when you remove the mixer.

Note: Experiment as much or as little as you’d like with this until you find your own favorite combination. Mix pudding flavors, or mix pudding with the whipped cream, or even substitute with mousse. Try different cakes or brownie flavors. Also, serving them as individual servings in a small glass is both delightful entertainment and impressive as well. Not to mention that it makes them look like little parfaits. =]


~ AJ ~

P.S. Be sure to check out the recipe section of the blog! Recipes will be added as they are posted, and readers are more than welcome to share as well. So far, one reader recipe has been contributed. If you think you’ve got something great hidden up your sleeve, we’d love to know your secret recipe!

Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie Hwang.


  1. Sep-14-2010

    I would have eaten the brownies regardless!

  2. Sep-14-2010

    Special brownies? =) I have friends who would gladly take special brownies! (myself not included)

  3. Sep-15-2010

    it’s really goooooooooooooooooooood:)

  4. Sep-15-2010

    i love ur cookies too!!!

  5. Sep-20-2010

    I love our late night brain storming and the things we come up with ^_^ It brings out our mutual genius I think :P I’m totally concocting new trifle recipes in my brain and I seriously need to make my Pumpkin Cream Trifle this year. Darn it woman, you’re get me all hungry at work! >.>

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