Monthly Archives: February 2015

02/19/15

Layered Chocolate Mint Brownie Bars

Chocolate Mint.

What a delicious, refreshing combination!

And it’s the favorite of one of my coworkers, and so for his birthday, I made these Layered Chocolate Mint Brownie bars for all of us to share and celebrate!

You are sure to love them too!

They are sort of a cross between a fudgy brownie and a York peppermint patty; a favorite treat from my childhood.

Just a few steps, but none of them are difficult, and you will be instantly transported to gooey, chewy, chocolate mint heaven!

Layered Chocolate Mint Brownie Bars 

A delicious combination of fudgy brownie batter, mint buttercream, and chocolate ganache topping. You won’t be able to resist!

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mixes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, also Ghirardelli
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions with eggs, oil, and water. Bake until cooked throughout, the edges are crisp, and it is just set in the center.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

This step can be done a day or 2 ahead.

2. For the peppermint buttercream, in an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat 1 stick of softened butter until smooth, creamy, and light- about 2-3 minutes. Add  2 cups powdered sugar and the milk and mix until combined. Add in peppermint extract and beat for 1-2 minutes until creamy, smooth, and thick.

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Spread all over cooled brownies. Cover, seal, and refrigerate until icing layer is hardened and set.

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3. And for the last layer, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, place the remaining stick of butter and 1 heaping cup of chocolate chips and stir until combined and melted. Add 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, stir, and remove from heat.

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It will be pure liquid chocolate goodness. Nice thickness, but still perfectly pourable.

4. Allow to cool slightly before pouring on top of hardened icing layer. Be sure to not mix! You want this to be a beautiful layered bar.

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5. Cover, seal, and place back in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 8.

6. To slice, use a sharp knife dipped in warm water for a clean cut.

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But, if they are a little smooshy (that is a technical term), that is okay. No one will mind. 🙂

Arrange on a serving platter and serve.

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Oh, they couldn’t wait til I walked in the office with these bad boys…

Brownies will be fine at room temperature for a few hours, but if not serving immediately, consider placing back in the refrigerator to prevent melting.

Will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. But, they won’t last that long.

Honest.

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02/17/15

Fight Back with Joy!

Margaret Feinberg is the best-selling author of a number of Christian life books, including Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God. 

Margaret is like so many of us. Her life hasn’t quite turned out the way she imagined it would. Without giving too much away from her post below, please know that you were made for so much more! You were made in love to love others.

Margaret has been through so much in her personal faith walk, as you are about to read, but she is convinced that the pain and life’s struggles and strife are what truly awaken us to experiencing God’s unending joy! Surprising? Yes! Especially to her!

So, without further ado, Margaret Feinberg!

{this post originally appeared on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience on 1/29/15}

I hope you are as blessed by it as I was.

One Secret Weapon Everyone needs for Every Battle 

“So the Gospel of Mark writer is a master of word economy.

Popping verbs. Sizzling accounts. Rampant pacing.

In his opening chapter, he omits details of Jesus baptism and temptation, and splices two events side by side in a handful of startling sentences.

With cool water droplets streaming down Jesus’ face, Mark 1:11-12 records: “And a voice came out of the heavens: ‘Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.’ And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness” (NASB).

Jesus isn’t just baptized in water — He’s baptized in love.

Drenched in the divine delight. Immersed in the holy affection of God.

The same baptism you and I are invited into. Not just when we become followers of Christ, but each day. Each hour. Each moment.

We are meant to live as those who drip with God’s love.

Then the most startling event happens.

Without warning, Jesus transitions from 100 percent humidity to 0 percent humidity.

Jesus shifts from an environment in which He is soaked, saturated, sopping to one that’s dusty, desolate, dehydrated.

It’s easy to read the passage and miss the profundity, not just in Jesus’ life but in our own.

We forget:

Divine affection doesn’t mean we won’t face affliction. 

While itching under my arm, I felt a lump. At first, I thought it was my imagination. It turned out to be my worst nightmare.

Tests soon revealed I had breast cancer.

Not all breast cancer is the same. In fact, every breast cancer different. Some require a lumpectomy and/or radiation. Others are more severe. My course of treatment involved more than a year of chemotherapy, radiation, and many surgeries.

The gruesome details still bring me to tears.

My life hasn’t turned out like I expected. Maybe yours hasn’t either. 

In His fierce love, God will sometimes impels us into the wilderness, a land marked by wild beasts.

Blistering heat.

Frigid cold.

Darkness.

Isolation.

The transition baffles us.

We beg God for an escape, an exit ramp.

What happened to the refreshing waters? The dew of God’s love? Has God forgotten us altogether? Did He ever really love us? Did we ever really know Him?

The desert can make us ask dark questions and face even darker temptations.

Mark writes, “And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him” (1:11).

Amidst harsh dehydration, God’s presence remains.

Instead of a rushing river, we find a lone detail: ministering angels.

Where are you living right now? Lush land? The lonely desert? Somewhere in between?

In that place, God’s presence may look different than you expect. He’s with you, for you, loving you—ready to minister to you in surprising ways.

This journey has been the most painful experience of my life.

Sharing about it requires some vulnerability. Okay, a lot of vulnerability. And, that’s really, really hard.

I feel like I’m finally ready to share what God has stirred in my heart along the way because although cancer has been the most painful journey—it has also been the most joyful. No one is more surprised than I am.

Two years before the diagnosis, I became obsessed with the more than 400 references of joy in Scripture. Two weeks from turning in a book on joy, I received the phone call that changed my life forever.

The entire project scrapped.

Up until that time, I had been searching for joy in the relatively good times of life. But, after cancer, I started to read those scriptures so differently as I moved from dew to dehydration.

I discovered facets of joy that no one ever taught me—more than whimsy, joy is a weapon we can use to fight life’s battles.

The thing is, no one signs up for that discovery project, finding joy in suffering. No one.

I’ve never felt so surefooted on my path to a joyful life. I know now that without shadows, joy can feel shallow. But, when we can discover joy while in the fight of our lives—no matter what that is—it is lasting.

Today, trust when it makes no sense?

Today, seek His presence when He feels so far away? 

Today,  fight back with joy?

Everyone who has faced a challenge, or who knows someone in the midst, needs to know that —

suffering doesn’t win.

Joy wins.”

Amen!

xoxo

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