Ballroom Dancing and Brownies

A few dancers on the floor.

I need to start getting myself geared up and thinking like a competitor. November is not so far away, when I will be out there on the dance floor dancing my heart out for the judges. That’s pretty much why I’m following my current diet plan. Besides that, I need to get totally immersed in ballroom dancing, and step up to the training that’s involved when I compete. When I’m not thinking about foods and cooking (and writing about it), I’m involved with my dance lessons. I take two private lessons and attend group classes –as many as I can manage–in a week. But that’s my usual routine. I will be increasing my lessons to 3/week and trying to get in as much dancing as I can to increase my tolerance and stamina. It’s a matter of really ramping up my activity level, working hard and keeping focused. Ballroom dancing is like any sport, needing strong muscles, balance, rhythm, and being aware of every part of your body as well as being in top physical condition. If you watched any of the Olympic athletes, I’m sure you have an appreciation for that.

The ladies’ gowns are so beautiful.

Well this past weekend I took some time out to attend a local, regional competition just to watch the dancers and to attend the banquet at the end of it all. There’s nothing like a competition to get you in the mood for competing. It’s a friendly environment with all the dancers supporting each other and people like me cheering them on. One thing I know about dancing is that it makes you hungry, and snacks as a source of energy, for those who are dancing, are always welcome. So I baked some brownies to bring along.

I’m not sure if my idea for these brownies is original or if I perhaps read about using pretzels with brownies in one of the many blogs I read, or some other source, but I did not have a recipe. What I did have was a package of peanut butter filled pretzels, so I decided to incorporate them into a nice fudgey brownie, ice the brownies with chocolate peanut butter ganache and put more pretzels on top. More is always better with me, as in: “you can never have too much of a good thing”. And when it comes to anything chocolate usually peanut butter is a good companion. I must confess that in this instance I took a shortcut and used a boxed brownie mix. Ghirardelli Brownie Mix is absolutely the best!

Another view of the dance floor.

PEANUT BUTTER PRETZEL BROWNIES

SERVINGS: 30

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ pan.

Prepare the brownie mix as the package directs for fudge brownies.

Crush about 1 cup of peanut butter filled pretzel bites, keeping some of the pieces large. ( mine were Clancy’s brand ) The easiest way to do this is put the pretzels in a zip-lock bag and pound lightly with a meat tenderizer, or rolling pin.

Pour half the brownie batter in the pan, sprinkle on the cup of pretzels, cover with the remaining brownie batter. Bake as directed on the package.

Let brownies cool completely in the pan. Ice with chocolate peanut butter ganache. Cut the brownies into squares ( 5 across by 6 down), and place one whole pretzel on top of each one.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER GANACHE

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 & 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch salt

1. Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.

2. Combine cream, peanut butter and salt over low heat. Stir until smooth. Increase heat to medium-low and, stirring constantly, heat until bubbles form along the edges of the pan.

3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. The chips will become all melty like. Gently whisk the chocolate chips until the mixture is shiny and combined. Stop mixing when the mixture is combined or it will become kind of grainy. Let the ganache sit to thicken up a bit to spreading consistency. You can put it in the refrigerator, or place over a bowl of ice to speed this up if you are in a hurry.

4. Spread the ganache with an off-set spatula. Hide any left over ganache in the back of the refrigerator, because you will want to eat it with a spoon!

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