By the time Lee and I get back from England, there will be less than two months until the wedding. There are two options: 1) freak out, or 2) celebrate. We also just officially crossed the mark of having all the major things figured out. As of right now, we could have wedding with no table runners and lumps of flowers just dropped on the table, but with food for people to eat and plates for them to eat it off of, and someone to marry us and music for people to dance to.
So I think I’ll pick 2) celebrate! over 1) burst into frantic, hysterical tears. Yes? Yes. And what is a celebration without dessert? Rhetorical question, every celebration needs dessert, duh.
I have three recipes for you over the next few days, for freezable, wedding-worthy desserts. Today, we’re exploring salted caramel brownies. Salted? Caramel? Brownies? Yes.
A note: don’t overbake these. The gooeyness is essential to the flavor as well as the texture, and if you bake them too long, the caramel starts to disappear into the brownie.
Making the caramel took 15 minutes. Melting chocolate and butter took 13 minutes. Stirring in the rest of the ingredients and arranging everything in pans took another 10. Baking took 25-35 minutes.
– Refrigeration: Go on and stick them in the fridge. I wouldn’t do more than a day or two, though, so that they don’t dry out. Make sure to pull them out at least an hour or two before you serve them, so they’re not hard.
– Freezing: You can put the batter into pans, freeze them, and then bake them straight from the freezer. Mine took an extra five minutes of baking time, for a total of 35 minutes, but watch yours closely. Like I point out above, you want them gooey and almost a little underbaked.
– Sitting out: You’re good to go. I left mine out overnight and they were fine.
– Prep: You can definitely make the caramel ahead of time, and leave it in the fridge for several days.
Salted Caramel Brownies
From Deb Perelman’s fantastically creative brain and blog.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt, more to taste)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Put some parchment paper on a large plate. If you’re feeling thorough, butter it. If you’re feeling lazy, like I was, don’t bother.
Get a medium saucepan. Make sure it is totally dry. Melt the sugar, which will take about five minutes. You’ll probably need to stir it a few times as chunks form. (A note: use a fine-grained sugar. The natural sugar I used the first time was so course it almost looked like demerara, and it made it really hard for it to dissolve evenly.) (Another note: hot sugar is hot. Don’t be like me, remember not to touch it.) It will probably be a coppery, caramel-y color by this point. If it’s not, cook it for a few more minutes, but keep an eye on it and don’t let it get too dark. You want it to be basically exactly the color of packaged caramel candies from the store (see picture below).
Remove it from the heat, and stir in the butter. It probably won’t incorporate entirely into the sugar. Don’t worry about that, but do stir it well. Stir in the cream and the salt, and it should start to come together. Put the pan back on the heat and bring it to a simmer, and cook it until it has all incorporated. Remove it from the heat again, and pour the mixture onto the parchment papered plate. Put it in the freezer until it’s solid enough to cut, around half an hour.
When it is firm, use a sharp knife to cut it into approximately 1-inch squares.
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped (I actually messed up and used sweetened chocolate the first time I made these. I still liked them. I maybe even liked them more than the normal ones.)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, butter and flour the two remaining exposed sides.
Make a double boiler by putting a heat-proof glass bowl over a pan full of water. Bring the water to a simmer, and melt the butter and chocolate in the bowl, until smooth. Stir it regularly, and don’t overheat/don’t burn the chocolate.
Remove from heat. Whisk in the sugar, and then the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and the salt. Stir in the flour.
Fold most of the caramel squares into the batter, reserving a small handful. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smooth it out, and sprinkle the remaining caramels on top. (If you’re freezing, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer.)
Bake for 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (That is, clean from brownie crumbs. It will almost certainly have some caramel on it.) Brownies will cut better (and not burn your mouth with hot caramel!) if you let them cool first.