Salted Caramel Brownies
Okay, it's not summertime yet, but it's really starting to feel like it. Have you noticed?
Every day I find myself a little happier, a little more open to the world. All I can think about is popsicles. And swimming. And sunglasses. And snow cones!
The other day I even got a teeny, tiny SUNBURN. Can you believe it? In Oregon.
It's like a miracle. Summer is a freakin' miracle.
And I love summer food, too. Besides the afore-mentioned frozen treats (popsicles! you know the ones, with the two sticks and you break them apart on the counter top - I like the blue ones), there's salad, coleslaw (I cherish a bewildering passion for this humble side dish), fruit, fruit SOUP (soon to come, I hope), and of course, the mighty king of summer foods...the barbecue.
Summer summer summer.
And then there are the parties. With friends. To eat all this good food at. That has got to be one of the best parts.
For example, I was invited to my first summer dinner party a few weeks ago. I was on dessert duty (well, if I MUST!), and I just had to make this recipe for, ready?
Salted. Caramel. Brownies.
Any skeptics out there? Some might find it strange to add salt to a baked good. It's okay. I respect that. But if that baked good happens to involve caramel, you really, really ought to try it.
Really. It changed my life.
So. Here's to three days in a row without rain! Here's to big sunglasses and shorty shorts (all right so preggie lady will probably not be indulging in those this year, but that just means YOU will have to for me)! Here's to peaches and cherries, and drinking hot things iced! Here's to summertime!
Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather)
1 1/2 c. walnuts (original recipe calls for pecans, which would do nicely as well)
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.
Grease or line a 9" x 13" baking pan.
Combine the butter and chocolate in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan set over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. (Do not leave the chocolate mixture unattended for long or it may burn.)
Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, mixing until thick and glossy. You can do this by hand, but can also use an electric mixer if you wish. Whisk or stir in the flour and salt.
Transfer the batter to the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the brownies cool about 20 minutes.
Stir the caramels and cream in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in half the walnuts. Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the brownies (if you let it sit, it will get hard and difficult to spread).
Sprinkle the chocolate chips and remaining walnuts on top of the brownie layer. Bake for 20 minutes more.
Sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt (if unsure of amount desired, start small).
Cool the brownies completely in the pan. Slice and serve!