In the mood for simple dessert ideas

I love to bake.  But there are many times when I need, or want, to produce a dessert and can’t find the time to bake from scratch.  That doesn’t mean that I want to settle for less.  Here are three impressive desserts that you can pull off in short order with a box of brownie mix and a mini muffin tin.

 Chocolate Raspberry Bites

Makes 20-24
1 box high quality fudge style brownie mix (I use Ghirardelli) plus whatever ingredients are called for on the box.
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Prepare a mini muffin tin by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.  Mix brownies according to the package directions.  Carefully fill the mini muffin tins about 2/3 of the way to the top.  Use a wet paper towel to remove any dribbles that might burn on the outside of the pan.  Bake 10-20 minutes.  Baking time with depend on the size of your particular muffin tin, as they vary.  Look for the tops to be shiny and crackly, and remove them from the oven when the center is just set.  It is important not to over cook in order to maintain that fudgy quality.  Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely.  Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners sugar  until it makes soft peaks.  When the brownie bites are completely cool, garnish each with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a big, fat, juicy raspberry.

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Mini Chocolate Fudge Sundae Tarts

 
See the above recipe for method to make the brownie bites.  When they are completely cool, cut each one in half and fill with a tablespoon of your favorite vanilla ice cream.  A metal tablespoon works really well as a mini ice cream scoop.  Press on the top gently to help the ice cream settle into place.  If you are not serving them right away, you can place them in the freezer at this point. Keep in mind, however, that if you leave them in for more than an hour, the frozen brownies will make the dessert more difficult to cut with a fork or spoon.  When it is dessert time, drizzle the little ice cream cakes with chocolate sauce, lightly sweetened whipped cream (see above) and a sprinkle of sweet cocoa powder.
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Peanutty Fudge Cups with Pretzel Streusel

See first recipe of this post for method to make brownie bites.  While they are cooling, stir together 1 cup smooth peanut butter, 2 cups confectioners sugar, and 4 tablespoons heavy cream.  Whisk thoroughly, adding more cream teaspoon by teaspoon if necessary to get the consistency of a thick, yet spreadable frosting.  Frost the  brownie bites and sprinkle heavily with crushed salted pretzels.  (a zip lock bag and a rolling pin make for easy pretzel crushing)

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