We’re celebrating the release of COCONUT LAYER CAKE MURDER with a look back at some of our favorite Joanne Fluke recipes from the Hannah Swensen series! Tell us your favorite recipe in the comments.
By Joanne Fluke
Double Fudge Brownies:
- 1 and 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
- 3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white (granulated) sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
- 3⁄4 cup salted butter (1 and 1⁄2 sticks, 6 ounces)
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used Bakers)
- 1 and 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, beaten (just whip them up in a glass with a fork)
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Nestle)
Milk Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
- 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) salted butter
- 2 cups milk chocolate chips (I used Nestle Milk Chocolate Chips, the 11.5-ounce package)
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk—I used Eagle Brand)
Jo Fluke’s Note: Be careful when you buy semi-sweet chocolate baking squares. Bakers has repackaged. A box used to contain 8 ounces in one-ounce squares wrapped in white paper. The new box contains only 4 ounces and it takes 4 little squares to make one ounce.
To Make the Double Fudge Brownies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.
- Line a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with heavy duty foil. Spray the foil with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, white sugar and brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on LOW speed until they are thoroughly combined.
- Place the stick and a half of salted butter in a microwave-safe bowl. (I used a quart Pyrex measuring cup.)
- Break the semi-sweet chocolate squares in pieces and place them on top of the butter.
- Heat on HIGH in the microwave for 1 minute. and then stir with a heat-resistant rubber spatula. (If you don’t have one, you really need to buy one. They’re not expensive and they’re dishwasher safe. You’ll use it a lot!)
- Take the spatula out of the bowl and return the bowl to the microwave. Heat the butter and chocolate mixture for an additional minute.
- Let the bowl sit in the microwave for 1 more minute and then take it out and stir it with the heat-resistant spatula again. If you can stir it smooth, let it sit on the counter to cool for at least 5 minutes. If you can’t stir it smooth, heat it in increments of 30 seconds, letting it sit in the microwave for 1 minute after each increment, until you can stir it smooth.
Hannah’s 1st Note: You can also do this on the stove-top over LOW heat, but make sure to stir it constantly so it won’t scorch.
- Stir the vanilla into the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Let it continue to cool on the counter.
- Add the eggs to your mixer bowl and beat everything together at MEDIUM speed until everything is incorporated.
- Turn the mixer down to LOW speed and slowly pour the chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract mixture into the mixer bowl. Mix this until it’s combined, but do not over-beat.
- Roughly chop the chocolate chips into smaller pieces. (I used my food processor with the steel blade.)
- Take the bowl out of the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips by hand. (You can use the same heat-resistant spatula that you used earlier.)
- Scoop the mixture into your prepared pan. The mixture will be very thick. Use the same rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and get every wonderful bit of yummy batter into the cake pan.
- Smooth the batter out and then press it down evenly with the back of a metal spatula. Make sure the batter gets into the corners of the pan.
- Bake your Double Fudge Brownies in your preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for exactly 23 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE! If you do, you’ll end up with dry brownies that taste like chocolate cake instead of chocolate fudge!
- When you take your brownies out of the oven, set them on a cold stove burner or a wire rack to cool.
Hannah’s 2nd Note: My cake pan always has one square, the size of a brownie, missing when I make the frosting. I’m not going to admit to anything here. I think the brownie thief must have come into my kitchen to take one brownie when I wasn’t looking.
- Make the Milk Chocolate Fudge Frosting.
To Make the Milk Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- Place the butter in the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl. (I used a quart Pyrex measuring cup.)
- Place the milk chocolate chips on top of the butter.
- Pour in the 14-ounce can of sweetened, condensed milk.
- Heat on HIGH for 1 minute. Then remove from the microwave and stir with a heat resistant rubber spatula.
- Return the bowl to the microwave and heat for another minute.
- Let the bowl sit in the microwave for 1 minute and then take it out (careful—it may be hot to the touch!) and set it on the counter. Attempt to stir it smooth with the heat-resistant spatula.
- If you can stir the mixture smooth, you’re done. If you can’t stir it smooth, return the bowl to the microwave and heat on HIGH in 30-second increments followed by 1-minute standing time, until you can stir it smooth.
- To frost your Double Fudge Brownies, simply pour the frosting over the top of your brownies, using the heat resistant rubber spatula to smooth the frosting into the corners.
- Give the microwave-safe bowl to your favorite person to scrape clean. (If you’re alone when you’re baking these brownies, feel free to enjoy the frosting that’s clinging to the sides of the bowl all by yourself.)
- Let the frosted brownies cool to room temperature until the frosting is “set”. Then cover with a sheet of foil and store them in a cool place.
Life in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, is usually pleasantly uneventful. Lately, though, it seems everyone has more than their fair share of drama–especially the Swensen family. With so much on her plate, Hannah Swensen can hardly find the time to think about her bakery–let alone the town’s most recent murder. . .
Hannah is nervous about the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident. She’s eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gavel–and Hannah is the number one suspect. Now on trial in the court of public opinion, she sets out in search of the culprit and discovers that the judge made more than a few enemies during his career. With time running out, Hannah will have to whip up her most clever recipe yet to find a killer more elusive than the perfect brownie. . .