Thursday, May 1, 2008


Recently, the Food Network aired their "ultimate recipe challenges" in several categories. One of the categories was cookies, further separated into 3 sections (chocolate, spice and bar cookies). One winner was selected from each of the 3 sections, and the over-all winner took home the $25,000 grand prize. Camilla Saulsbury had two recipes accepted for the challenge, and both cookies won their respective sections. One cookie was a ginger spice cookie and the other was a bar cookie. She took home the grand prize for her spice cookie. There is some controversy over Camilla's win, since her credentials seem to indicate she is a food professional (check out her website at I watched the show, and, while other contestants freely talked about their previous experience with cooking contests, she defintely downplayed hers. Actually, she said nothing; and considering the number of wins she has had, that was amazing by itself. I guess the question being asked now is: Is it right for a person who was hired by Pillsbury to develop recipes for their brownie and cake mixes, who teaches cooking classes, who is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and who has authored not one but seven cookbooks to enter amateur cooking contests? Does the Food Network even check these things out?

Getting back to today's recipe, Camilla's winning spice cookie recipe didn't entice me, but her "Oaxaca Fudge Bars with Cashew Crumb Topping" did. Checking the recipe closely, I saw that it was a duplicate of a popular bar cookie and that Camilla had just added some different flavors and the cashew crumbs on top. I had a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix on hand and thought I would try her flavorings with the brownie mix. Since I didn't have cashews, but I did have hazelnuts, I decided these brownies would have a hazelnut-chocolate chip topping. Camilla's flavorings spiced up the brownies a bit, but these are just ok for me. I can't rave, maybe because this just isn't where my tastebuds want to travel, but maybe also because I used a brownie mix and it altered the flavors. Anyway, this is not a bad alternative if you're looking for something new to do to a brownie mix, and the hazelnut-chocolate tip topping is great.

Oaxaca Fudge Brownies with Hazelnut-Chocolate Chip Topping
21-oz. Duncan Hines Family Style Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. instant coffee powder (decaf ok)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup crushed potato chips (optional)
1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with shortening. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except nuts and chips. Pour into pan. Sprinkle nuts and chips on top. Bake according to package directions, testing for doneness with a toothpick inserted 1" from edge of pan. When it returns clean, remove brownies from oven and cool on wire rack completely. Cut into squares when cool. Yield: 20-24 brownies


Bella said...

Very interesting....I've been to Oaxaca and am familiar with the region's specialty in 'mole' sauces, the use of cinnamon and spices in their chocolate. These sound quite good! Thanks Judy....looks like I'm reading your entire blog tonight, huh? ~ roz

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