Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brownie Bites and Contest Update

"Eggstra" Contest update...

I've received quite a few emails from readers who have spotted Eggsecutive Orders at bookstores. These, of course, are the early appearances.

Today is the book's official release date (woo-hoo!!) and your last week to enter the "Spot the Book" contest! I'm hoping to hear that it's everywhere -- please let me know! If you email me with where and when you spotted the book, you could be entered to win a $25 bookstore gift certificate. Details on this contest (and more about our Secret Ingredient contest) by clicking here.

And, while you're reading Eggsecutive Orders (how's that for a segue? Almost as good as Avery's yesterday) you may want to have a sweet snack.

Today's recipe is Brownie Bites featured in the second White House Chef mystery - Hail to the Chef.

Here's one issue I have with that recipe - in the book, it appears on pages 323 and 324. I don't like having the ingredient list split up like that. I much prefer having a recipe per page. Hoping to ensure that going forward...

These are *delicious* and very easy to make. One of my readers and friends (Hi, Cathy!!) told me she served them at her book discussion group with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center. Chocolate or fudge drizzled on top and you have a dessert fit for fancy!

I made these twice over the holidays - once for Christmas, once for New Year's. I didn't serve them with ice cream, but used Hershey Hugs to top them. I also tried crushed peppermint sticks on top - these originally looked fabulous, but I probably should have waited until the bites were completely cooled. The peppermint pieces melted, just a little bit. Not so fabulous looking. Word to the wise - wait ;-)

Brownie Bites
(all on one page!)

3/4 cup good quality cocoa (I used Hershey's)
3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa
1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk (don't add all at once)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the cocoa, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl stir until the cocoa is fully incorporated, and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Add dry ingredients all at once and gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together. Stir only until the ingredients are mixed. Too much stirring makes the brownies tough.

Place foil (paper cups will shred, so using foil is important) baking cups into 2 12 cup muffin tins. Spray with cooking spray or grease with shortening. Fill the cups 2/3 full with the brownie mixture.

Place in oven and bake until the mixture is just set and lovely cracks appear on the surface of the brownie bites—about 15-20 minutes. Remove cups from tins and let brownie bites cool.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla, and blend until the mixture is fully mixed. Add the milk, a tablespoonful at a time, and continue beating the frosting. When the frosting looks glossy and forms soft peaks, it’s ready to use.

Frost the brownies in their foil cups.

Garnish with pecan halves, or the garnish of your choice.

(Other options for garnishes include everything from mini-chocolate chips to a sprinkle of coconut to a fan of candy corn –cute in the fall—to white chocolate curls to chocolate covered coffee beans to peanut butter cups to peppermint patties to other chocolates. Tailor your garnish to your anticipated diners. If you’re feeding mostly adults, go for sophistication. If you’re feeding lots of kids, raid the candy store. The pecan halves are a compromise—both adults and kids like them, and the people who don’t like nuts can easily remove them. But the sky’s the limit as far as garnishing these goes.)

I love these... so pretty, so delicious.

Hope you enjoy!


Hey, by the way, did anyone watch IRON CHEF on Sunday? Was that fun, or what? To me it felt like I was watching my character, Ollie, up there competing with all the "big names" in the culinary world. First female White House Executive Chef. You go, Cristeta!!



  1. Good luck, Julie! And, if anyone would like to stop over at my blog, http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com, Julie is guest blogger there today, talking about Ollie and Eggsecutive Orders, as well as future titles. Thanks, Julie!

  2. Congratulations on your release today, Julie!! I know you've got another hit on your hands.

    The brownies look delish and just the right size for kids. I'll try to let them cool before putting toppings on them. If my kids will let me let them cool! :)


  3. Thanks Lesa, for having me guest blog. One visit to your site and it's clear why it's so popular!

    Riley/Elizabeth - Thanks for the congrats. I'm so excited! These brownie bites are so yummy that I may actually give up making boxed brownies.


  4. Julie, how adorable those little foil cups are. Can't wait to try the recipe! Wishing you good luck on your new book! We love Ollie!

  5. The recipe sounds great. I'll have to print it out and try it tonight. Congratulations on the release of your book. Way to go!

  6. Avery - thanks! And thanks for all your great Tweets this week! You're the best!

    Mason - it's really easy. I love this recipe. Good luck with it, and thanks for the congrats!

  7. Oh, yes, yes, yes! Chocolate is the perfect way to celebrate your big day today, Julie. Warmest congratulations on the release of EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS, yet another wonderful White House Chef mystery!

    I'm with you on the Food Network special - I was so excited to see the real White House Chef featured in FN's Iron Chef competition this week. For anyone who missed the broadcast, you're in luck...

    The FoodNetwork is going to re-broadcast their special White House "Iron Chef" episode 3 more times this week. (Flay, Batali, and Emeril are all a part of the show with Alton as host and Nigella Lawson as one of the judges, too.)

    Re-broadcast schedule for White House Iron Chef on the Food Network:

    Thursday Jan 07, 2010 - 8:00 PM ET/PT
    Friday, Jan 08, 2010 - 12:00 AM ET/PT
    Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 - 4:00 PM ET/PT

    Congrats again, Julie! Your series rocks and so do you!

    ~ Cleo Coyle
    author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

  8. Cleo, thank you!! This is great! Thanks so much for posting these re-broadcast times. If anyone hasn't seen this, it's definitely worth watching. I thought it was just so cool to focus on freshness and local growing, and - of course - The White House!

    Thanks, Cleo! Much, much appreciated!

  9. I did indeed watch the Iron Chef show and really liked it. I am a huge Bobby Flay fan, so I was pretty happy...

    And I am using portion control for my moderation (I don't say diet). These are just right for a little something... instead of a huge cheat if I was cutting them from a pan

  10. Congrats, Julie! Eggsective Orders is out -- what a great day!
    I know the dudes will LOVE the brownie bites!
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Congrats on the new book, Julie!

    I have a similar recipe for brownie bites and I don't think you can go wrong with these. Children and adults tend to devour them!

  12. Hey Grill! - I like that ... "moderation." Much better than diet. I'm going to adopt that one myself! I'm a big Bobby Flay fan, too. Lots of fun.

    Thanks Jenn! And Congrats on your PW STARRED REVIEW!!! Everybody check out Sprinkle With Murder coming in March!

    Thanks, Janel! These are pretty great, aren't they? Glad you're already enjoying them!


  13. Brownies in foil sound perfect for a grazing type party. No sticky fingers. I'm a total sucker for frosted brownies, so you can bet I'll be trying these!

    ~ Krista