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Salted Caramel Brownies
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Is there not a more amazing combination of flavors than in salted caramel?  Don’t agree with me?  Uhh, have you tried these salted caramel brownies yet??  Like these sweet and salty cupcakes and these turbo-charged brownies, this brownie recipe brings together rich chocolate and salted caramel, a topping I don’t ever see myself tiring of.  And rather than being sandwiched within the brownies (like this recipe), the caramel seeps into the batter, distributing the goodness throughout and keeping the brownies perfectly fudgy.  After adding a sprinkle of fleur de sel and coarse sugar which melt onto the warm brownies after baking, this dessert is elevated to another level.  As my first official baked goodie in the new kitchen, these brownies were a smash hit and whether you top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a glorious drizzle of the leftover caramel sauce (or both!), you will not be disappointed – we certainly weren’t!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Yield: 9-12 brownies

Ingredients

  • ¼ ½ ¾ °
  • For the salted caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • For the brownies:
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 oz good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (preferably 60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • splash of Kahlua (optional)
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp coarse sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the caramel: Combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Carefully stir them together, trying not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 350° F, about 6 to 8 minutes. It should be dark amber in color, but keep a close eye on it, as caramel goes from perfect to burnt and ruined in no time flat. Remove the caramel from heat, and carefully stir in the cream. It will bubble up, so be ready! Whisk in the sour cream or Greek yogurt, and set aside to cool.
  2. To make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside.
  3. Combine the butter and chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until the chocolate and butter have melted. Add both sugars and whisk until combined. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Add three of the eggs and whisk until just combined. Whisk in the remaining two eggs, vanilla, and Kahlua (if using), and whisk just until combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the brownies and use a spatula to fold it into the wet ingredients, until there are just small traces of the flour visible.
  4. To assemble the brownies: Pour half the batter into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle 3/4 cup of the caramel over the brownie batter, being careful not to let the sauce come into contact with the edge of dish. Use and offset spatula to gently spread the caramel evenly over the brownie layer, then drop the remaining brownie batter over the caramel by the spoonful. Again, use the offset spatula to gently spread it in an even layer.
  5. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
  6. Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the salt and sugar Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Source

source: adapted from Baked: Explorations via Pink Parsley

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Peppermint Brownies
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Growing up, I was all about cherry-flavored candy canes – you know the rainbow-colored ones!  These days candy canes come in all different flavors so theoretically, I should be in heaven with all the choices, but for some strange reason, as an adult I have developed this insane love for peppermint.  And these brownies are exactly what satisfy every craving I have at Christmastime.  Rich chocolate and peppermint brownies have a layer of milk chocolate chunks inside and are topped with Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses…and they will make any holiday package or treat tray sparkle!  Both Kyle (who only mildly likes peppermint desserts) and I truly fell for these brownies and I had to wrap quite a few up to freeze before they all mysteriously vanished from the house.  Luckily though, I’m in charge of desserts again at Christmas so pulling them out of the freezer will make for a quick and easy addition to my dessert extravaganza!

Peppermint Brownies

Turbo-Charged Brownies with Salted Caramel Peanut Topping
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espresso brownies with salted caramel peanut topping

If you’ve been coming around Smells Like Home for long enough, you’ll know that we love coffee.  These café mocha cupcakes exemplify this love in a die-hard coffee lover kind of way as do the more subtle banana espresso chocolate chip muffins and the over the top toffee bar brownie torte.  I’ve become such an addict (pun intended) of what espresso powder, instant coffee, and strongly-brewed coffee does to the flavor of chocolate that I can now almost never turn away from a recipe that contains one of these formidable combinations.

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Enter today’s Project Pastry Queen recipe: Turbo-Charged Brownies with Salted Caramel Peanut Topping.  I couldn’t stop thinking about these brownies for the 2 weeks between announcing my choice and making them yesterday.  They were the kind of pervasive thoughts that made their way into my conscious mind on multiple occasions while at my desk working on my manuscript.  They peaked around corners reminding me to lay off the sweets and go for the fruit during the week.  They are what got me out of bed yesterday morning at 6:30 to start baking because I just couldn’t hold off any longer.  And oh.my.gah were these brownies worth every second I waited.  A jolt of rich chocolate brownie from beneath a salty caramel and crunchy peanut-studded layer wakes up the taste buds and has you reaching for either a glass of ice cold milk or a steaming cup of, yes, coffee.

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My experience with these brownies left relatively nothing to be wary of.  A basic brownie recipe, baked thin, then covered in a quick caramel and peanut mixture is simple and straightforward.  The recipe states to bake for 30-35 minutes (leaving the center slightly gooey) but I found that my brownies were completely baked after 25 minutes – next time, I’ll start checking them at 20 minutes and I’ve made this adjustment to the recipe below.  The only other changes I made were to add 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt to the caramel, swap out the pecans from the original recipe for honey roasted peanuts, which also lent a little extra salt to the caramel, and to reduce the granulated and brown sugar in the brownie recipe by 1/4 cup each – the topping adds more than enough sweetness to this dessert and I didn’t miss that 1/2 cup sugar in the brownie at all.  As rich as you can expect these brownies to be (and they are that rich), consider cutting them into smaller pieces – a 13″ x 9″ pan yields 24 decently portioned brownies that will leave you quite satisfied.  And happy.  Very, very happy.

Want to see what the a couple of my fellow members thought about these brownies?  Check out their posts:

Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
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Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

For the past three weeks I’ve been craving a yellow butter cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  This post obviously isn’t about that cake.  It’s about these Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Frosting that I nearly had to wipe the drool off of my keyboard from when I came across the recipe.  A chewy, dense, bright red (and in my opinion, all red velvet should be) brownie topped with a fluffy white chocolate buttercream frosting that actually tastes like the white chocolate I fell in love with as a child.  These are the type of brownies that will make your old Aunt Rhonda kick herself for not thinking to bring to the church picnic before her old rival, Harriett, did just that.  They’ll make people swoon and clamor over each other for seconds.  You’ll watch these babies disappear and will beam with delight.

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I’ve only made one other red velvet recipe in my lifetime and I had forgotten about the destructive power of red food coloring so be prepared to go slowly when it comes time to add it in.  Fortunately, the recipe seems to compress the mess because you’ll stir together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and some vanilla into a paste that you’ll add to the batter rather than pouring all of the food coloring into a whirling mixer.  That’s a disaster waiting to happen.  The white chocolate frosting is insanely sweet and I almost thought it was too sweet but by the next day, the white chocolate flavor seemed to blossom and the sweetness had diminished just a tad.  Because of this, I highly recommend making the frosting a day or two in advance and sticking it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake the brownies; it will need to come to room temperature and will likely need a good stir before you’ll be able to frost.  Whatever you do though, don’t wait another millisecond to make these.   You’ll be kicking yourself when they show up at your next party and someone else will be doing all the beaming.

[9.2.11 Update] Note: I’ve edited the bake time of the recipe below to better reflect the comments people have left about the brownies being undercooked at 30 minutes.  All ovens vary so use your best judgement and the toothpick test to ensure doneness.

Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 65 minutes

Yield: 12 brownies

Ingredients

    For the brownies:
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 oz red food coloring (or a scant 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • For the white chocolate buttercream frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz good-quality white chocolate (not chips), melted - I recommend Callebaut
  • 1 - 2 tbsp heavy cream

Instructions

  1. To make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8"x8" baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, slowly stir together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and 1 tsp vanilla into a thick paste until no lumps of cocoa remain. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in the remaining 1 tsp of vanilla. With the mixer off, add in the cocoa mixture, then turn the mixer to medium and beat the two mixtures together until they are one uniform color. Slowly add in the flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed, just until combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir up the batter with a rubber spatula once or twice just to ensure all of the flour has incorporated from the sides of the bowl and there isn't anything stuck on the bottom of the bowl. You'll want one uniformly colored (red) batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the brownies. Allow brownies to completely cool in the pan on a baking rack, about 45-60 minutes. Frost brownies in the pan, cut into 12 bars, and serve, or remove the entire batch from the pan to a cutting board, cut into 12 bars, frost, and serve.
  6. To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until soft and fluffy then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time; allow the sugar to mix in before adding the next 1/2 cup. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat on medium speed for 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the melted white chocolate and beat on medium speed until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add in heavy cream 1 tbsp at a time and beat at medium speed until the frosting has reached your desired consistency.

Source

source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

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Toffee Bar Brownie Torte
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There are some things in life not worth sacrificing. Like this cake, for instance.  It was the recipe of the week for Project Pastry Queen last week and I passed on it because I had already made cupcakes, rice pudding, and cookie bars during the week.  And I regretted every bite of all of those things once I saw this cake posted by some of my fellow PPQers. So given the opportunity for a reprise with a Wildcard Week, I jumped at the chance to indulge.

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With a decadent espresso filling sandwiched between 3 layers of brownie, wrapped in a fluffy espresso whipped cream, and studded with Heath Bar bits, I’m sure I’ll have no problem passing on all other sweets this week so that this cake can take center stage.  The brownie layers aren’t as sweet as you would expect due to the [16oz!!] bittersweet chocolate in the recipe and they balance just perfectly with the sweet espresso-mascarpone filling.  As you could imagine, the cake as a whole is incredibly rich but it’s worth every single calorie each slice contains and small slices alongside a glass of ice cold milk are highly recommended.  And even though this is a gigundo cake, if you’ve got anyone around with a hollow leg and a sweet tooth (read: Kyle), I’m sure this cake won’t be around for long.

Sarah’s got the full recipe posted at 20something cupcakes and a few others made the cake last week so be sure to check out Project Pastry Queen for their links.  Next week we’re going Italian!

Peanut Butter Caramel-Filled Brownies
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Folks, have I got a doozy for you today!  Brownies, like mac and cheese, are one of those comfort foods that never go away.  We never let them go away.  We keep loving them in all different forms, all different recipes, and after a while – even after making 6 or 7 different recipes – we still remember which ones we loved and which ones we didn’t.  Well, I can assure you that you will never forget these brownies.  It’s impossible to forget about them – almost as impossible as forgetting what your favorite childhood book was. A luscious layer of peanut butter caramel runs right through the center of these double-baked chocolaty but not overly sweet brownies.  They are made with bittersweet chocolate, and while I would normally sub out half of the bittersweet for semi-sweet in my baked goodies, the balance of flavors between the dark chocolate and the sweet caramel is perfect.  If you can hold off on eating them for a day (good luck!) or even just a few hours, they actually get better over time provided you wrap them up properly.  I think the caramel sweetens up the deep dark chocolate just a wee bit and softens the bottom layer of brownie. I have to tell you though, they didn’t last a day in my house and they probably won’t in yours either. :)

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Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake
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As my expectation of [an annually made] pumpkin pie arriving at my house for Thanksgiving dessert was dashed, thanks to someone who usually brings the pie but never offered this year (bitter much?), I quickly had to come up a new plan for a second dessert.  And it needed to involve only ingredients that I had in my house because I refused to venture into the madness of a grocery store last Wednesday afternoon.  I dug deep into Dorie Greenpan’s Baking book and came up with her Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake.  It’s one I’d seen Annie make a while back and always admired for its gorgeous presentation, and I decided on the spot that it was time to make it.

As it turns out, this cake was way easier to make than I expected it to be (even in such a pinch on the night before Thanksgiving) and I’m definitely starting to feel more comfortable making caramel. I love watching all the bubbles while the sugar boils away!  Dorie, of course, couldn’t make the process any easier with her precise and perfectly detailed instructions.  The caramel-peanut topping is to.die.for and while I think I slightly overbaked the brownie cake, the combination was a delightful one…as expected.  Personally, I think the cake could have been a little sweeter so I think I’ll use a combination of semi-sweet and milk chocolate should I make it again in place of the bittersweet chocolate. But the caramel topping was just as ooey-gooey as I had hoped it would be so how could I possibly complain about anything else?  Nobody missed the pumpkin pie this year when I had a dessert table set with Tall and Creamy Cheesecake, Cappuccino Biscotti, and this outrageous Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake!

THE Baked Brownie
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Today, let’s talk brownies.  It seems like the #1 prerequisite for writing a cookbook these days is that you have to include a brownie recipe.  And damn, it better be a good one.  Luckily for the guys at Baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn (NY, that is) they had one.  And it’s truly the recipe that put them on the map.  Actually, praise Oprah for making this brownie one of her “Favorite Things” a few years ago, thus making this the most famous brownie recipe ever. The Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook was born thereafter Oprah and frankly, this recipe is what made me want to buy the want to buy the cookbook. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I’ve talked about quite a few different brownie recipes here over the years.  Here are just a few of them:

And out of those three base recipes, David’s brownies are hands-down my favorite.  Just as the title describes, they are chewy, dense, and downright perfect.  But, I have to say that the Baked brownie, with all of its high (Godly?) expectations, gives David’s recipe a full-on run for its money.  Shall I say that it may have taken over the top seed on my list? The texture is very similar to that of the Chewy-Dense Brownie but there seems to be an extra level of richness.  Of course, this could have been due to the handful of Heath Bar bits I threw into the batter and butterscotch chips I topped the batter with before baking, but all in all, I won’t hesitate to make the Baked brownie again and again.  It really is something special and you can bet your butt that the next time I drive down to Long Island to see my parents, a side-trip to Baked will be in my plans.  I hear they sell other things too.

**EDIT** The winner of the copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is Kimberly @redheadrunswild!!

Caramel Crumb Bars
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When you have 10+ recipes to blog about, sometimes a recipe comes along that needs to cut the line.  This one here is a line-cutter.  Don’t hate the line-cutter.

(more…)

Chewy-Dense Brownies
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When I picked up The Perfect Scoop last year, I read through the Introduction and The Basics chapter then drooled over about 15 recipes I wanted to make immediately.  But somehow I neglected to pay much attention to the Vessels chapter at the end of the book.  Vessels, as in what you put your ice cream in or on top of, not as in boats…though, I suppose theoretically similar concepts.  Anyway, I’d heard about these brownies in passing over the past year and never thought to make them until I decided to make some Milk Chocolate Ice Cream where David suggests adding brownie chunks to the ice cream.  Well, this could have been the best idea I’ve ever acted on because these brownies were hands down the BEST brownies I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  And if you’ve been reading SLH for long enough, you know that I’ve tried a few different recipes.  This one tops them all.  These brownies are just as they are promised to be – chewy and dense.  And utterly delicious.  I added 3/4 cup of Heath Bar bits (which you can find in just about any grocery store baking isle) in place of the nuts and they melted into the brownies as they baked – pure heaven!!3

Milk Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Ice Cream
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It’s National Ice Cream Month and I’m celebrating with a big bowl of this downright awesome Milk Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Ice Cream a la David Lebovitz.  How many times have you seen a post dedicated to his ice cream recipes today??  I’ve seen probably 10.  That’s because he’s worshiped.  And rightfully so.  Deemed the king of ice cream, I’ve yet to make a recipe from The Perfect Scoop that has failed me.  And this one is no different. The ice cream on it’s own is fantastic.  The brownies only take it over the edge. Seriously over the edge.  Check back soon for the brownie recipe…a teaser though…they may just be the best brownies I’ve ever made…better than Ina’s Outrageous recipe…and that should say it all. So since chocolate ice cream seems to be the all-American choice, why don’t you give this one a try for the all-American holiday on the 4th?

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Two tips for this recipe:

1.) use high quality milk chocolate (not candy bars) – the better the quality, the better the taste. Simple.

2.) make sure you give the mixture plenty of time to chill before you churn it – overnight is a perfect.  The longer it sits, the deeper the flavor. Again, simple.

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Brownie Pudding
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Here’s yet another recipe I’m kicking myself about not making sooner.  This Brownie Pudding happened to be one of the choices for Barefoot Bloggers way back in March 2009 and I never made it then.  Yes, that’s right.  I waited an entire year before making this absolutely to die for dessert.  Heavenly might be a better word for it.  And if you’re as much of a brownie lover as I am, you’ll truly appreciate all the happiness this dessert brings to you.  As the name suggests, it’s a cross between brownies and pudding…think similar to molten lava cakes but way better.  The recipe yields beautiful brownie edges and a soft brownie batter-like center – the best of both worlds in my opinion!

The only catch to this recipe is that you cannot, under any circumstances, overcook this dessert if you wish to have the gooey insides…trust me.  I’ve made the recipe twice in the past 3 weeks.  The first time, I used a 13″x9″ glass baking dish and baked it for 55 min which was too long since I ended up with really dense brownies (which really isn’t a bad thing, is it?).  When I made again this past weekend, I used the size dish Ina suggests, baking it only for 50 minutes this time rather than the hour Ina says to, and it came out perfect. Brownie pudding perfection.  I don’t suggest you wait as long as I did to make this so put aside the 10 minutes it takes to prep, pop it in the oven while you’re eating dinner and serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream (a requirement of course).  You’ll be thanking me! Though your hips may not. ;)

Double Chocolate Brownies
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Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple brownie.  Finding that perfect recipe isn’t easy though, is it?  Oftentimes it takes weeding through a few recipes, though really it’s not a burden to find the recipe that really resonates with you. I’m not complaining about trying multiple brownie recipes in order to find the perfect one.  Out of all of the recipes I’ve tried thus far, Ina’s Outrageous Brownies (in all forms) have been my favorite and I think this statement still stands.  I definitely enjoyed these brownies because well, they’re brownies. They were chocolaty and moist but not as fudgy as I had hoped they would be.  Ina’s brownies outshine this recipe by way of the depth of chocolate flavor, likely due to the addition of instant coffee granules which Ina swears by in her chocolate recipes, as well as the texture.  Granted, I loved how these brownies held together really well while Ina’s brownies can be a little crumbly at times but I suppose I prefer my brownies a little softer and more fudgy.  The only other complaint I had was they they were a little thin which you can see from the photo in the link below which I didn’t look at before I made them.  This of course isn’t a huge issue but it’s necessary to ensure that you don’t over bake them since they are on the thin side and thus don’t bake as long as other recipe may.