*Heart Brownies* are a staple in my house and at almost any gathering I attend. They are easy to make and they are delicious--crunchy edges with soft, gooey centers. A priest once told me they were 'walk on water good'. I almost died at the compliment (hubby doesn't believe or likes to pretend he doesn't)! However, since I make them all the time they hardly seem special for Valentine's Day and I have to remind myself they are the perfect Valentine's Day sweet. Keep reading for my super secret recipe...
...which is not really secret at all. The key to making the perfect heart brownies is having a heart-shaped pan...this is a must and it's the only way to get brownies with crunchy edges and soft middles. I use this pan from Nordic Ware, in fact when making brownies I use three pans at once because I never make just one batch (each pan makes 6 heart brownies)--it may be somewhat of an investment, but totally worth it. The next key step is to spray the pan(s) with Pam Baking spray (or an equivalent baking spray), regular Pam will not keep the brownies from sticking to the pan so do not use it. Most boxed brownie mixes will yield good results, but the best mix I have found is Ghirardelli's Triple Chocolate Brownie mix, which can be found in bulk at Costco. Follow the directions to mix up the batter and use a cookie dough scooper to fill up the hearts 1/2 - 2/3's full. One bag/box of mix usually makes 13-14 brownies. Then bake the brownies at 350 degrees (instead of prescribed 325) for 19 minutes (adjust time to your oven). Allow them to cool for 2 minutes in the pan before dumping them out on a cooling rack. I have found that the brownies taste better the next day as long as they are stored in an air tight container. Make sure you spray the pans in between batches to make sure the brownies don't stick.
This year I plan to pack up the brownies in cute heart-shaped containers I purchased from Target for Brooks' teachers. Last year I packed them in polka dot bakery boxes from Martha Stewart Crafts. I included a festive badge on top of the boxes which were made from cupcake wrappers and animals cut out from Paper Source wrapping paper (instructions found here).
Happy Baking & Happy Valentine's Day!