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Pretzel Crusted Brownies...& {five} things I love about Winter.

It's another cold Winter day in Minnesota - it's hard to believe that we were in the 90's just a few {long} months ago. I decided to make a list of all the things I enjoy about Winter.

I've got nothing.

I kid. I actually came up with 5 things. Five!! That's a lot for this winter-hating girl.
  1. Tis the season to eat soup. Lots of amazing soup. Soup is a great filler when I'm coming up short on what to make for dinner. Plus, soup is a favorite of my husband.
  2. Jeans/leggings. I really do love wearing jeans. I've been sporting denim leggings almost all winter-long, mostly because I don't like getting my hems wet with the ever present snow. And most of my jeans are too long to wear with flats. I'm looking forward to being able to wear my heels again once the ice and snow goes away. Also leggings go really well with my... 
  3. Boots! I love boots. I have 9 pairs and I love them all. I even have a few pairs of booties (wedge booties are my newest shoe addiction). 
  4. Hot drinks. Sipping on coffee or tea is extra nice when it's chilly outside. 
  5. Baking. I bake all year long, but it's especially nice to bake when it's cold outside. The oven heats up the kitchen like nothing else. 
Speaking of baking. I found this amazing recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago. It intrigued me and so I pinned it. This weekend I had a variety of activities that called for yummy snacks/treats (girls night, guys night, superbowl...), so I tried it out. And I'm so glad I did. I've added it to my newest addiction list.  I may or may not be nibbling on one as I type (isn't nibbling a much better word than inhaling? I think so).

And so, without further ado, here are the recipes (and a couple of videos I shot while making them, thanks to my Vine app - username: Jessica Gulbranson). 

Pretzel Crusted Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Slightly adapted via The Avid Appetite 


For the crust:
4 C pretzels
¾ C unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
½ C sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 13x9” baking pan with foil, letting some hang over the edges. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter and flour.

Process pretzels in a food processor until chopped small, but not too finely. Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave.

Transfer the pretzels to a mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar.

Mix in the melted butter. (Resist eating the entire pretzel concoction) Press into a the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust has set

Let set on the stove for a few minutes. Transfer to refrigerator (It's always a good idea to put down a towel or two when putting something hot in a cold fridge - you don't want to crack any glass shelves)

Meanwhile, prepare the:

Brownies

Original recipe slightly adapted via All Recipies

2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter 
1/2 cup cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
4 Eggs 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder  
1/2 teaspoon salt 

1. Change oven temperature to 350 degrees.   
2. Melt the butter or margarine and mix all ingredients in the order given. 



Pour over the cooled pretzel crust and carefully smooth the edges so as not to pick up any pretzels.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean, but with a few fudgy crumbs. BUT, make sure that the middle has set!

Once the bars have completely (!) cooled, remove from the pan by carefully lifting out the bars from the pan using the foil overhang.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

(I just used leftover Cream Cheese Frosting from when I made this recipe. If  you want to stick to the original Buttercream Frosting, you can find it here). 

1 1/2 oz. Softened Cream Cheese 
3 T. soft butter 
1/2 t. Vanilla 
1/2 t. Milk 
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and milk until combined. Slowly add the Powdered Sugar until well combined. Once completely combined, carefully spread over the cooled brownies.

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