Spring Confetti Blondies

Celebrate the return of Spring with a colorful, sweet, and fun blondie!

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Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

These chewy blondies are loaded with lots of good things: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, sprinkles, and peanut butter-filled candy eggs. Admittedly, they’re a bit of a sugar bomb, but I think that they’re worth it.Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

I made these these blondies in anticipation of the Easter holiday, but, not surprisingly, couldn’t get it together enough to post these last week. Since Easter has come and gone, you can feel free to substitute any candy you’d like in place of the egg-shaped Reese’s Pieces candy that I’ve used. Think M&Ms, regular Reese’s Pieces, and so on.

These sweet and chewy blondies serve as the perfect backdrop for whatever candy or mix-ins you choose to add.

Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

The base of this blondie recipe comes from The Cookies & Cups Cookbook.

You’ll need:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Cream the softened butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.

Add the mini chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and sprinkles. Beat until all of the mix-ins are distributed throughout the dough.

Press the dough into the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Top with extra mini chocolate chips and sprinkles. Lightly press the Reese’s Pieces eggs into the dough, distributing them randomly over the surface.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean. Allow the blondies to cool completely before cutting them into bars.

Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks
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Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

These cupcakes have the texture of brownies and are intensely chocolate-y . Frosted with chocolate buttercream and decorated with mini chocolate chips, these cupcakes are a chocoholic’s dream.Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

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I made these super chocolate-y cupcakes for Sean’s birthday, which he celebrated last week.  He’s a pretty serious chocolate lover.  Check out this epic chocolate cake I made for him a couple of years ago.  These cupcakes seemed like a fitting choice for his birthday this year.

Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd CooksNot only was it Sean’s birthday, but he turned 30!  I managed (with help, of course) to arrange for three of our good friends and some of his family to come down to Durham to visit for the weekend.  He had no idea that anything was happening, and was completely surprised.

After the surprise visitors arrived, we went to the Hurricanes-Canadiens game, and then had a party at our house the day after.  I made these cupcakes for the party.Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The recipe for these brownie cupcakes, along with the basis for the buttercream frosting recipe, comes from Joy the Baker’s 2nd cookbook.

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes (makes 12) –

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners and set aside.

Put the butter and dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water).  Stir the butter and chocolate together until they are completely melted and combined.  Whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Remove from the heat, set aside, and allow it to cool slightly.

After the chocolate mixture has cooled just a bit, whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure that they are each thoroughly combined before adding another.  Whisk in the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

For the buttercream frosting (makes more than you’ll likely need for 12 cupcakes) –

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbs milk/heavy cream
  • mini chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

Add the softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat it on medium for about 1 minute.

While the butter is being beaten, whisk together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar/cocoa powder mixture, the salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated.

Add another 2 cups of the powdered sugar.  Beat on low speed, and add the additional 1 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.  Use the milk/heavy cream to thin things out as needed.

Once the frosting is as stiff as you’d like it to be, beat it on medium speed for about 4 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.

Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

double-chocolate-brownie-cupcakes-long-pin

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

These bars have it all. They are full of sweet and salty caramel, spicy cinnamon, and sweet-tart apples.Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

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For my birthday this year, I picked up a few new cookbooks.  One of them was the Cookies & Cups Cookbook.  Though I’ve salivated over many a thing in Shelly’s lovely book, I’ve made Key Lime Pie Cookies and these amazing apple pie bars.  Both undisputed winners.  I can’t wait to keep cooking and baking my way through this cookbook.

These bars are out of control good.  The salted caramel and tart Granny Smith apples are perfect for one another.  They’re perfect for enjoying some really classic Fall flavors.  And, let’s face it, the near-obscene amount of butter in these bars doesn’t hurt, either.  Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is modified slightly from the one found in the Cookies & Cups cookbook.

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 14 oz (about 55 pieces) soft caramels (like these ones), unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs flaked sea salt
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced*

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, lightly coat with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour little by little until the dough just comes together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish in an even layer.  Reserve the other half of the dough for later.  You can wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the refrigerator.

Bake the base for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.  Place the baking dish on a wire rack and allow it to cool almost completely.**

When the bottom crust is nearly cool, you can start making the caramel sauce.  In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the unwrapped caramels and heavy cream.  Stir frequently until the caramel is melted and smooth.  Pour it over the cooled bottom crust in an even layer.

Sprinkle the sea salt (seriously, I’m having a love affair with Maldon sea salt) over the caramel and layer the apples on top, evenly.  Overlap the apples a bit if necessary.

Take the reserved dough out of the fridge.  Crumble it onto the apples in an even layer.  You probably won’t totally cover the apples, and that’s okay.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the caramel is bubbling.

Allow the pan to cool completely before cutting it into bars.

These bars are pretty amazing no matter how you eat them.  But may I recommend reheating a bar and topping it with a little vanilla ice cream?

*I found that using one of these apple corer/slicers made the job go a lot faster.  Use one of those bad boys after peeling the apples.  Take each segment of apple and cut in half lengthwise.  Then cut each of those pieces in half again, lengthwise.

**Make sure that the base is pretty firm, and adequately cooled, before moving on.  The first time I made these bars, I was impatient.  I didn’t allow the base to cool much at all, and poured the salted caramel on top, thinking that all would be fine.  However, because the base never quite baked the whole way through, the bars didn’t retain their shape when cut.  It was still delicious, but was a bit of a sloppy mess.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Shari’s Berries products were provided to me free of charge.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links.

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd CooksIt’s A Nerd Cooks’ birthday week, you guys.  Earlier in the week, I shared these S’mores Cupcakes with you all.

Shari’s Berries reached out to me earlier this month about their Birthday Collection, and sent me a dozen Hand-Dipped Birthday Strawberries, so I figured I’d keep the celebration going!White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd CooksTheir chocolate covered strawberries inspired me to make these White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars.  They are rich, decadent, and perfect for celebrating  a birthday or blogiversary.White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is slightly modified from My Evil Twin’s Kitchen.

You’ll need:

For the crust – 

  • 30 Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted

For the cheesecake –

  • 3-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup white chocolate, melted
  • 13 oz. strawberry jam (this kind of  jam is, well, my jam)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving some hanging over the sides.  This will help you lift the bars out of the pan after they have baked and cooled.  Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

To make the crust – Pulse the Oreo cookies in a food processor or blender until only fine crumbs remain.  Add the melted butter and pulse again until all crumbs are coated in butter.  Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.  Set aside.

To make the cheesecake – Rinse and dry your food processor/blender.  Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt/sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.  Process until the mixture is very smooth and creamy (this may take several minutes).

Add the eggs and cornstarch and process until smooth and creamy again.

Add the melted white chocolate, and process for a third time until smooth and creamy.

Pour the cheesecake mixture over the prepared crust and smooth it out in an even layer.

Dollop the strawberry jam onto the cheesecake.  Using a knife or toothpick, swirl the jam throughout the cheesecake.  Be careful to not go too deep, because you’ll mess up the crust.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and golden brown, while the center still jiggles a little bit when you shake the pan.  Turn the heat off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven.  Prop the oven door open and allow the cheesecake to cool for an our or so, or until you can handle the pan with your bare hands.  Allow the cheesecake to cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating.

Once chilled (at least 2 hours), you can cut the bars however you’d like.

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd CooksWhite Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd Cooks

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd Cooks

Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce De Leche Blondies

These blondies have chocolate, nuts, salt, and dulce de leche.  Tell me, does it get any better than this??

Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

I made these blondies a couple of weeks ago according to the original recipe, and while they were really quite good, I felt like they were missing something.  Enter: more chocolate, bourbon vanilla, and dulce de leche.

Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

To be completely honest, I had some reservations just before adding the dulce de leche.  Was I going to ruin these blondies by adding one too many flavors?

Fortunately, there was no real need for concern.  These blondies came out simply amazing.  The sea salt and the bitter chocolate completely balance out the sweet caramel, and the pecans add a nice textural contrast.Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is adapted from The Whole Bite.

You’ll need:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used bourbon vanilla!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks (reserve a few chunks for the top)
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped (reserve a few pieces for the top)
  • 1/4 cup dulce de leche

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and brown sugar together until smooth.  Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined.

Add the salt and flour, and mix until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Fold in the chocolate chunks and pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan in an even layer.  Dollop the dulce de leche on top of the batter at random, and use a knife to drag it around, swirling it throughout the blondies.  Press the reserved pieces of chocolate and nuts into the top of the blondies.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the blondies are set in the middle.  The edges will start to pull away from the sides of the pan a little bit when they’re done, too.  Remove the blondies from the oven, sprinkle some sea salt on top, and allow them to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

Triple Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Three kinds of chocolate + raspberries = sweet decadence in the form of a super fudgy brownie.Triple Chocolate Raspberry Brownies | A Nerd CooksYou know, I didn’t realize until just now that I have quite a few recipes for desserts that feature chocolate and raspberries on this blog.  First, there came the chocolate raspberry stout cheesecake (trust), then the dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream (which I still maintain are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made), and most recently there have been skinny banana raspberry chocolate chip muffins (tasty and pretty healthy!).

It’s a delicious flavor combination, that’s for sure.  And a small (admittedly irrational) part of me likes to pretend that the addition of fruit to a baked good makes it somewhat healthy.

Triple Chocolate Raspberry Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

Bottom line: These brownies are fudgy AF.  Like, you better eat these with a fork.  The chocolate chips add some texture, and the raspberries add a pop of sweet and tart flavor.

I found this recipe on the blog Clarks Condensed, and couldn’t help but make them ASAP.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, divided
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In another medium-sized bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla extract together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking util each egg is well combined before adding another.

Switch to a spatula, and in a couple of additions, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Once things are just combined, add 1 cup of frozen raspberries and 1/2 cup each of both kinds of chocolate chips.  Stir until they are well distributed.

Spread the brownie batter in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cups of berries and chocolate chips on top.  Bake for 28-33 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.

Allow the brownies to cool completely before slicing.

Triple Chocolate Raspberry Brownies | A Nerd CooksTriple Chocolate Raspberry Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

Triple Chocolate Raspberry Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

Slutty Brownies – Updated

These treats are everything you could want them to be and more: part chocolate chip cookie, part brownie, part Oreo, and 100% decadent.Slutty Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

My only beef with these treats is the name.  Come on now.  Judge our desserts not by their extracurricular activities.  Can’t they just live?

Slightly judgmental name or no, these brownies are amazing.  No doubt about that.  They’re a mash-up of some classic treats, and somehow the whole is greater than the sum of its delicious parts.  Make them and you will not be sorry.  Neither will your coworkers with whom you share them.Slutty Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

Continuing with my theme of late, I had blogged about these Slutty Brownies a while back, but this recipe was in serious need of a face lift.  I used a combination of this recipe for the cookie layer and this one for the brownie layer.

You’ll need:

For the cookie layer –

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 24 Double Stuffed Oreo cookies

For the brownie layer – 

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  Set it aside.

First, you’ll make the cookie layer.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions, followed by the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients, little by little, to the wet.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish in an even layer.  Top with the Oreo cookies, pressing them into the dough slightly.

To make the brownie layer, mix the eggs, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl.  This is actually surprisingly difficult to do.  Mix things together as well as you can.

Add the granulated sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined.  Add the butter/sugar to the cocoa/egg mixture and stir until combined.

Add the flour, stirring until the flour just disappears and everything is smooth.  Spread the brownie batter over the Oreo and chocolate chip cookie layers.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Slutty Brownies | A Nerd Cooks