Now every year I make something special to send to my nephews for Valentine's Day. This year I was planning on doing little petit fours using a gourmet cake mix my sister gave to me. Then I read the ingredients and realized that I couldn't use it, since my nephew is allergic to tree nuts and unless I want my sweets to make him swell about the face and break out in hives, that wouldn't be a nice gift. I grabbed a box of brownie mix instead, and got to work. When I pulled the batch out of the oven 30 minutes later, I set it to cool on a wire rack and came back later to find every scrap of brownie firmly cemented to the bottom of the glass baking pan. Now, I'm no dummy. I know that you need to grease a pan, I even use parchment paper to make a sling for my breads and brownies. Somehow, those two facts escaped me this time. Maybe I was distracted by the stomping of my upstairs neighbors feet or the sugar rush I felt from eating large tablespoons of raw brownie mix. Whatever it was, I was pissed.
Almost 20 minutes of cursing and prying and I ended up with this...
I only got 2 dozen thanks to the mangling of the batch of brownies, and I used the tiniest heart shape from my Wilton set. It's about the size of a quarter. It's about this time that I realized, no matter what a mess I had made, I can salvage just about anything with a little chocolate. I got to melting, dunking, and decorating, and ended up with these...
Awww... aren't they cute? They are just bite sized and they each fit perfectly inside a mini cupcake wrapper, which conveniently makes them fit just right inside a little pine nuts box :)
Ahhh, a happy ending after all :)
Jojo's Sweethearts Brownie Bites:
One batch of standard brownie batter (I used a box, but you can make your favorite from scratch recipe)
Zest of one tangerine
1 cup dark fondue chocolate (or candy melts)
Pink, white, and red nonpareils
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch glass pan and line with parchment paper to create a sling. Stir zest into brownie batter. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan to a cutting board when completely cooled.
Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out brownies. Set aside.
In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate. Using a fork*, dip brownies into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Lay on a wire rack** and decorate with nonpareils and sweethearts. You need to do this step quickly as the chocolate sets as soon as it cools! Continue for each brownie. Allow chocolate to set for 15 minutes before packaging.
* I don't spear the brownies with a fork, I lay them flat on top of the tines. It lets all the extra chocolate drip off, and they slide off the fork easily.
** I don't use wax paper for this because I hate when little pools of chocolate harden around the bottom of a treat. It ruins it. This way any excess drips off, and I can just pop the cooled bites off by pushing them up from underneath the rack with my fingers. Yes, you'll get a little wire mark in the bottom, but it's better than a puddle!