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Cookbook review: 'Brownies, Blondies and Bars' a gift for dessert lovers
"Brownies, Blondies, and Bars" is by Stephanie Brubaker. - photo by Landon Walters
"BLONDIES, BROWNIES AND BARS," by Stephanie Brubaker, Front Table Books, $19.99, 160 pages

While many people like to continue family traditions or make popular favorites that are well-known to their guests, the holidays can also be a time to try new recipes especially when it comes to sweets.

Popular writer Stephanie Brubaker of the Back for Seconds blog recently released her first cookbook filled cover-to-cover with delicious desserts. Titled Brownies, Blondies and Bars, this book includes recipes for what some more experienced bakers may consider simple dessert items; after all, brownies arent overly complicated to make for bakers with even the most rudimentary skills.

However, Brubaker takes the straightforward recipes for brownies and blondies and turns them into confections that will surprise guests with delicious flavors and impressive appearances, making people think the desserts took hours to bake.

It includes more than 50 recipes that include year-round choices such as the Oreo Mousse Brownies and holiday-centric recipes such as the Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cheesecake Blondies or the Eggnog Meltaway Bars. Its a cookbook that can become a great resource for chefs of all skill levels. The recipes are clear, concise and easy to follow while still incorporating fantastic flavors.

Brownies, Blondies and Bars could make a nice holiday gift for home chefs of all ages, including younger kids and teenagers who are interested in learning how to bake with their parents help. Some of these delicious treats could even become new traditions at gatherings and holiday meals.


Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Brownies

Makes: 32 brownies

These ultra rich brownies are unbelievably scrumptious! The name says it all!

Note: Be careful when spreading each layer into the pan to not disturb the layer below. I find it easiest to pour or spoon the batter as evenly as possible to avoid having to do too much spreading.


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cups semisweet chocolate chips

cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cups flour

Hot Fudge Layer

8 ounces cream cheese

1 jar (16 ounces) hot fudge


1 cups chopped peanut butter cups (about 30 mini cups)

Heat oven to 350 F.

Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the edges. Spray lightly with cooking spray.


Place butter and chocolate chips in a glass mixing bowl and heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each burst, until melted and smooth.

Stir in cocoa powder until completely incorporated. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt, stirring to combine. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed through. Gently stir in flour just until incorporated and no more flour is visible. The batter will be thick.

Spread 2/3 of the batter evenly into the pan and set aside.

Hot Fudge Layer

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and hot fudge until well combined. Gently spread over brownies. Spread remaining brownie batter evenly over the top.


Sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups.

Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until brownies are set and starting to pull away slightly from the edges.

Allow to cool completely, and then refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting into bars. Store refrigerated in sealed container.

"Brownies, Blondies and Bars" by Stephanie Brubaker
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