InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round is a great resource for those who like to entertain. We all need a little guidance sometimes, or just some new ideas. The book starts with a general guide to invitations, food and drinks, setting the table (serving pieces to linens) and the atmosphere (flowers, music, lighting).
There is a wide variety of party ideas including dinner, holiday, occasions/themes, and summer. Each suggests an invitation design, décor, menu, and even an activity. They provide recipes for everything and sneak in shortcuts if you don’t have time for the full deal.
Since the Super Bowl is almost here, I chose to bake the brownies from the “Game Day Fiesta” section of the Occasions & Theme Parties chapter. I have to admit, I haven’t made a lot of brownies in my time. Most were probably from a mix–gasp! These were from scratch with three kinds of chocolate (semisweet and unsweetened bars plus cocoa) and were marvelous.
The hardest part is cutting out the football shapes, and the recipe doesn’t give much guidance here–cut 10 (4-inch) football shapes. After I was disappointed by my freehand attempts, my husband looked up the exact proportions of a football and made a more precise pattern. 2 1/2 ” x 4″ is the correct size.
It’s still a challenge to cut out the shapes. Being careful not to disturb the crunchy top of the brownies (as much as possible) gives the best results.
Recipe: Football Brownies
Excerpted from INSTYLE Parties by the Editors of INSTYLE. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
Hands-on: 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours, 40 minutes (includes cooling)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
3⁄4 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking bar, chopped
3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
Make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Place the semisweet chocolate, butter, and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Bring the water in the bottom pan to a light boil over medium. Cook the chocolate mixture, stirring often, until melted and smooth, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
Whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring until smooth. Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until fully incorporated. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
Bake at 350°F until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 32 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Turn the brownies out onto a baking sheet; cut 10 (4-inch) football shapes, reserving the scraps for another use.
Make the icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of the milk in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to the desired consistency. Spoon the icing into a piping bag or a ziplock plastic bag with 1 corner snipped. Pipe the football stripes onto the brownies. Let the icing set before serving, about 20 minutes.
Thank you to Time Inc. Books, from whom I received a review copy of this book.