Eight year olds are always full of surprises. Two of Lilly’s friends decided to start a Second Grade Book Club. They sent out invitations, and invited the entire class to get together (BYO chocolate treats) and discuss the first selected read, The Chocolate Fudge Mystery, by Cam Jansen. Isn’t that just an adorable idea? I am completely charmed.
Lilly and I had a few ideas of what to bake, and then take to the chocolate fudge tasting. I fell in love with the mini book idea months ago, on Bakerella, when she honored The Pioneer Woman at her book signing.
I also fell in love with my mother’s famous peanut butter cup cakes over many a holiday sweets plate. Traditionally, she bakes sugar cookies in mini muffin tins, then inserts the peanut butter cup. These, quite simply, are perfection, and remind me of winters home from college in Connecticut. We thought, for this Fudge Event, we could take it one step further.
Step 1 – choose your candies carefully. Like I said, Mom has me addicted to Reese’s Mini PBCups. So those were a given. Lilly never falters when it comes to giving an opinion, and in the grocery aisle she quickly scooped up Hershey’s White Chocolate “Hugs” and Caramel Rolos (ok, let me be honest, I forced these, as I have a serious chocolate caramel addiction). We began our afternoon by unwrapping dozens of these little sweets…
Once you have unwrapped enough to make roughly 2 dozen, you are ready to mix up the brownies. We used good ol’ grande dame Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies, as again, my mother has me hooked. We did omit two ingredients, coffee and walnuts, as we were cooking for kids and adding candies.
I tried to get Lilly to sit, but she found it easier to see inside the mixing bowl in this position. Note to self – use shorter, smaller mixing bowl in future. We sprayed the mini muffin tins with cooking spray, then filled them about to the top with batter. You can fill them halfway for smaller fudge cakes if you like. Then, into the oven to bake.
I insist on the toothpick testing method – it always works like a charm. When dipped into the “cake” while baking, if it comes out wet and gooey with batter they are not yet done. When it comes out “clean” they are ready to pull out.
Immediately, upon removing from the oven, push candies down into the fudge cakes. We push each in, flat side up, so the candy is flat ontop and flush with the top of the fudge cake.
After a minute or two, they begin to melt into the brownie cakes. They are really hard to resist sampling…especially as your entire kitchen – ahem HOUSE is smelling too delicious for words. My mouth was watering.
Don’t you remember begging to lick the spoons – and using the spatula to wipe every spec of batter off of the bowl – till it was bone dry? I started to say “No, it isn’t good for you – raw egg and all.” Then I thought – what the heck…we are created her own memories of childhood here. So as you can see, she was ecstatic. And you know what? I was too, just watching her.
Now that’s what I call putting on a happy face. Move over double dipping – we’ve got double spooning.
Once they were all baked, and infused with as much chocolate as they could possibly hold, they were ready to cool and pop out of the tins. Most just pull right out with a little tug, but if they stick, just use a dinner knife to help separate them from the side of the tin.
If you use your muffin tin more than once, make sure to wash and re-cooking spray it each time, so they don’t stick after multiple uses.
They were so pretty all baked, and lined up in rows by candy, but we needed to give them the finishing book club touch.
We took a photograph of the book, opened covers up, flat on the table, so we could see the front and back cover at the same time. Then, we inserted the image onto white labels, and cut them down so they were the exact size of the image. With toothpicks, wrap the label on itself to make a little “book”, with front cover on one side and back cover on the other side.
Insert into each cake, pushing gently into the candy if they have cooled. I love how you can even see the library filing shelf labels on the spine…
Ready for the book club…and a dozen eight year olds ready to pounce!
But Lilly, in all of her creative wisdom, had one more idea…
Mini Hershey chocolate bars, a la edible book accessories, wrapped in a label reading “My Fudge Bookmark”. These literally took less than 10 minutes, start to finish.
I got a call today from Karen, the hostess, to tell me the kids were all screaming with excitement, saying “Oh my gosh, that is SO CUTE!”, “I can’t believe that’s the REAL BOOK!”, “That’s AMAZINGLY AWESOME!” Lilly told me it made her feel really happy to have her friends love her mini fudge book brownie cakes. It almost made her cry happily. (She’s narrating right now as I type).