Monthly Archives: December 2010

Pepe & Pita’s Kahlua Brownies

Now that enough time has passed and I’m no longer maniacally bitter at having lost the Dessert Contest at the holiday party, I can sit back, exhale… ahhhhh… and relish in the good news. Everyone in my office agreed and said that it was a shame and a complete miscarriage of justice that I did not flat-out win the contest. Lucky the judges were anonymous or else I’d shake my fist menacingly at them and mumble under my breath.

As a show of good faith and that I have, indeed, gotten over this, I’m going to share my recipe. Gasp! I know I swore I’d never divulge but, it’s Christmastime and winter holiday time. I’m feeling generous. HO HO HO.

Here’s the story of Pepe and Pita. Two young people who got drunk off Kahlúa and had loads of pepitas. Salty, sweet, chocolatey, rich. These things may be a little off-putting if the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done to brownies was switch out walnuts for pecans. But, TRUST. These are worth a little faith.

Let’s start with what you’ll need:

1 stick unsalted butter

8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (I’m a huge fan of Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao bittersweet chipsahhhh!)

1 cup flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1½ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

4 tbsp. Kahlúa

loads of roasted, salted pepitas

Since we are making these suckas from scratch, get yourself prepared. Throw on your favorite apron. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. And grab yourself three… 1 2 3… bowls. This is going to be messy and epic.

I learned this trick a while ago and now always employ it for my brownies. It makes clean-up a breeze and removal far simpler. Grease the bottom and sides of your baking pan with butter (not the stick you’re planning to use… grab some from somewhere else.) Cover with foil and butter the sides and bottom of the foil as well. This makes it easy for you to pull the brownies out of the pan and pull the foil off the brownies when done.

In small bowl or bowl No. 1,

set atop a pan of simmering water. We’re going to use the double-boiler method to melt the chocolate and combine it with the butter. Stir until silky smooth and irresistibly awesome. But, resist. You’ll need all that chocolate. Set aside and let it cool for a minute.

In medium bowl or bowl No. 2,

whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set this aside too. I’ve had an anxious pup or housemate snoop around the kitchen and inadvertantly drop my dry goods… so be sure to keep it far from accidental reach.

In large bowl or bowl No. 3,

beat the sugar, eggs and Kahlúa (be generous with this… what’s the worse that can  happen?) with electric mixer on low speed. Once combined, add the slightly cooled chocolate and mix again. Don’t overdo it. Just until the items are combined.

Once that’s combined, you can start incorporating the dry goods from bowl No. 2. Use a spoon and fold it all together. Make sure it’s properly mixed. Sometimes little bits of the dry goods like to hide in the chocolate.

Dump the contents of bowl No. 3 into your baking dish. Smooth it out. And here’s where you go crazy with sprinkling your pepitas on top. I didn’t put an actual amount in the ingredients list because you should be free to do however much you want. I like loads. My pepitas-topper theory is the same as my Kahlúa theory. More is always better. Also, you can go with regular roasted or salted and roasted. I like the latter.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until sides pull from foil.

Let it cool another half hour.




*CAVEAT: If they don’t come out awesome, the original recipe calls for 2½ tbsp. Kahlúa. Try that instead if you’re chickensh*t.*

My other brownie posts:

PHOTOS: Pepe and Pita got drunk and had loads of baby pepitas. As Tyra would say, ‘they’re vary commercial’ in a magazine photo spread.


Battle Royale: Who likes gross-looking tarts?

Nothing like the holidays to bring out the cut-throat competitive spirit. There was record-breaking turnout for UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies holiday party. With stiff competition, I entered my awesome Kahlua brownies topped with pepitas.

Scrumptuous. Chewy. Salty. Goodness.

There were two categories—(1.) cakes and pies and (2.) cookies, brownies and bars. Plus, there was an overall best international dessert entry.

In my category, third place went to… “Winter Wonderland Cookies.”

Second place went to… I forget. Not important.

First place, and the winner of a $20 gift card to Trader Joe’s, an apron and measuring spoons, went to… not me.


The judges were bought.

I was already thinking about how to graciously accept my prize. Such a wasted effort! Not even an honorable mention!!

I was honestly going to use my dessert contest win as reparation for the Justin Bieber door fiasco. Just desserts.

Perhaps if I had stressed the Kahlua in my brownies, I might have fared better. They were just listed as “Brownies with pepitas.”

Anyway, some blah-looking chocolate-topped tart ended up taking first place. Unimpressed. Full disclosure: I haven’t tasted it yet. I’m waiting a few hours when I’m no longer busting at the seams with cakes and pies and cookies so I can give a legitimate, unbiased approach to the winner (she says with a curled lip sneer). I’ll give it my fair evaluation and come back with my vote and we shall see whether or not I was hornswoggled.

PHOTO: A plate of my pepitas-topped brownies with some weird-looking (and apparently winning) chocolate tart.

There’s no sunshine without Justin Bieber

I’ve been at my current job for less than a year, which means this is the first time participating in the winter festivities. There are some interesting competitions around these parts. A dessert contest, which I’ve entered. Something about a holiday sock contest and a door-decorating contest.

In the past, IDEA has had some “out there” ideas. This is all hearsay and, again, it all comes from the people who worked on it… so I have no idea if what they say is pure nonsense, the undisputed truth or something in the middle.

What I have been told is that IDEA comes up with the best doors and always manages to come up short to some cutesy kumbaya-esque motif. For example, the year they put a three-dimensional dragon on the door as some homage to imagination and fantasy, like Santa Claus. ??? *shoulder shrug* Or the time they put up a collage of Los Angeles. ??? *Never got info on that theme.*

I decided 2010 would be the year that our door would blow them all out of the water. And our hard work would be rewarded with, at least, an honorable mention.

Armed with a great theme for the year’s holiday party—international traditions—I came up with an amazing concept. We would utilize all FOUR doors that face the hallway and my theme would be carried across each.

Justin Bieber Saves Christmas!

And Chanukkah!

And Kwanzaa!

And Winter Solstice!

It seemed perfect to me. If the judges reward sticking to the theme, we’d do that by putting a whole bunch of nick nacks from around the world. Who can say “no” to Spain’s Christmas Log?

If the judges wanted cute, someone has to like Justin Bieber, right? Or else how do you explain that maddness!?!

If the judges wanted international, The Bieb’s Canadian.

If the judges wanted some kumbaya b.s., then I’m sure we could have thrown a little of that too.

Here are a few of the other doors around Moore Hall that were decorated:

I don’t know which door will win. What I do know is that, properly executed, Justin Bieber could have rocked it out. Yes… could. With hectic schedules, late-in-the-game planning and other December calamity, my dream was never fully realized. Christmas will fall this year, so will Chanukkah and Kwanzaa and there will be no sunshine on winter solstice. Why? Because the Bieb wasn’t there to save us.

PHOTOS: Justin doing his thing on a bike; Christmas log from Spain; handful of decorative doors in UCLA’s Graduate School of Educatin & Information Studies