Daily Archives: February 25, 2012

The Brownie Mysteries

baking - recipe

Just call me Detective Dough Boy!


This afternoon, my friends Randall and Jae are helping me prep for an upcoming audition. They recently moved into a new house, are having a baby, AND Randall just booked a CBS pilot so I’m bringing them a little celebration/thank you gift. Both of them like coffee and spice; I decided to make Brownies with Cayenne and Starbucks VIA. I wanted them to taste and look great, so I did research.

Guys, there is A LOT of stuff online about brownies.

Took some help from a box mix – my head was swimming from all the recipes – but I still veered from the package a little. First, I did not spray the 8×8 pan directly – I learned my lesson last time and used 2 pieces of aluminum. Some say to spray under the foil, some say spray over the foil. I did both.


Added butter, instead of oil, because I read it would make the batter richer. Pillsbury said to mix 50 strokes – a lot of sites warned about over mixing, so I listened and stopped at 53…59…


…really? After 65, there were STILL clumps of powder in there!!! Ignore.


All the articles were in agreement about this one – bake in the middle rack of the oven.


Licked the raw remnants while it cooked – the coffee and cayenne flavors aren’t too strong, but they’re there.


About halfway through baking, I sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar. Again, some recipes said to do this first, some said to do it last. I went straight down the middle.


The box was right about the cooking time – 50 minutes EXACTLY.


I cooled it on a rack in the pan…


…then did more brownie research online. CONTRADICTIONS GALORE!!! Alton Brown says to use a pizza cutter while they’re warm…


…everyone else says wait and use a plastic knife!!!


I went with the latter, and gave it 1.5 hours (1/2 hour before they’re supposedly completely cool). You’re supposed to flip the brownies upside down and peel the foil off, but I feared cinnamon sugar would scatter.


They were still pretty warm while I operated…


…which meant I needed to do a taste test. Soft, moist, delicious. More cake-ish, actually. I would definitely add more cayenne next time, since the kick is very subtle.


Randall and Jae get the prettiest ones…


…I found this blue plate at Anthropologie yesterday and thought it’d make a nice house warming gift, too.

Spicy Mocha Brownies with Cinnamon Sugar


  • 1 packet Starbucks VIA
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (add more if you want it hotter)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 box (19.5 oz.) Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • Cinnamon Sugar Sprinkle – 3 Raw Sugar Packets + 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all the ingredients (except for the Cinnamon Sugar) and mix about 70 strokes. I’m guessing. Spread batter into an 8×8 pan sprayed/lined with foil. Bake 45-50 minutes, sprinkling the Cinnamon Sugar Mixture on top halfway. When a toothpick comes out clean, allow the brownies to cool. Cut with a plastic knife, or a pizza cutter, or whatever else you can think of!!!


My baking and detective work is DONE. Off to be an actor for a few hours!

Waffle Sundae on a Friday Night

dessert - movies - snacks

Got a sneak peek of the Surrogate Valentine sequel last night:


Since the screening in San Francisco will be right after the Yes We’re Open premiere at The Castro, I asked Dave (my director) if I could get a DVD. That way, I can attend the after-party at the W and still make it to the Daylight Savings Q&A without being clueless re: the plot – it’s been a while since we shot it!


Always pretty weird for me to see myself on screen, but especially strange to experience a movie for the first time without an audience present (I guess it doesn’t feel “real” for me) – I invited some friends over to watch with me.


Had to sample this Garlic Spread first – Majestic Garlic said you could eat it straight up, and I was skeptical since it’s raw…


…but they were right! It’s not harsh at all, just creamy and delicious (almost aioli-ish). Wolfed down with a plate of veggies…


…and a few Food Should Taste Good “The Works” (<—Happy Tortilla Chip Day!) while wrapping up a late-afternoon phone meeting.


A larger platter (with hummus) got assembled for our guests…


…I also served waffle sundaes! Used a pre-made pumpkin mix this time.


Toppings: Butter Pecan Brittle ice cream, Fig Syrup, and TJ’s crushed Cinnamon Almonds


I ate two from the second batch…


…one with everything but the almonds…



…the other with nuts (hold the ice cream)


Movie munchies…


…popcorn, of course! Just a handful of the Cheddar and Caramel Corn mix.


Happy to report that Daylight Savings is wonderful (get your tickets now, San Fran and Austin!). Fans of the first movie will not be disappointed (which, if haven’t seen, you can still buy/rent online or add to your netflix queue – it’ll become available even quicker if you rate/review it too).

Also fun to watch with someone else from the cast…


…speaking of my darling Joy, SHE WAS JUST CAST IN A NEW NBC PILOT YESTERDAY!!!!!!


We all had celebrated with her. (Julius “Photobomber” Chenwald too.)