Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Caramel Brownies

If there was a fugly award for brownies, these guys would win it hands down.  The sad thing is, when I opened my September Cooking Light issue, these were by far the prettiest.  A thick, fudgey brownie with an almost as thick gooey caramel layer and a sexy dark chocolate drizzle over top.  These, obviously, are no where near that picture.  These, in my own personal opinion, were butt ugly.  However, somehow they managed to taste better than I even thought they would from looking at the pretty, touched up magazine picture.  I'm not quite sure what happened, but surprisingly something good did result.

I say surprisingly because I didn't know how in the world these guys were going to come together while I was making them.  There was about 2 minutes of pride in the beginning, followed by a few hours of uneasy worrying.  Pride because all of a sudden I realized that I had just made my very own brownie mix and the world was all rosy colored and grand.  And then uneasy worrying as everything went downhill from there. 

You know when you get something from the menu at McDonald's and you never really expect it to look like the picture because past experience has taught you to know better?  I guess I haven't learned that yet with my Cooking Light.  This isn't the first time that I have felt betrayed by the magazine, but at least this time the end results were edible.  It's almost enough to make you question whether or not they actually test run their recipes before printing them.  But the must, right?  They have to, right?  Otherwise how would they get the pretty pictures?  Like the one that looks absolutely nothing like the brownies I just made?  It's really a mystery. 

Anyways, here are my thoughts.  The brownies took about 4 times longer to cook then they suggested.  The caramel coating isn't as thick as it was supposed to be, but that's ok.  I actually think it might have had too much butter in it (which I know is almost a cardinal sin to admit, but it just might be true) and not enough powder sugar.  It sweated quite a bit and was greasy.  The chips plus the evaporated milk made for a horrible chocolate drizzle over the top.  It was runny and ended up being just a thin, runny chocolate layer across the top that never really hardened up.  I could have made it thicker by adding more chocolate maybe, but I was tired and it was late.  Next time, I'm just melting the chocolate alone.  Which leads me to the last criticism.  What was up with the evaporated milk?  I hate wasting food and that is what it ended up being.  I opened up a can and used only a few tablespoons out of it.  There has to be a better way.

The brownie part was delicious.  The homemade brownie mix may just have to be made again.  It was the top half that I really struggled with.  It needs a better caramel recipe and a not so complicated chocolate drizzle recipe.  It's such a good idea with such an amazing brownie bottom, it's just not there yet.  And since Cooking Light apparently can't be bothered with trying and testing and perfecting their own recipes, I guess I'll just have to do it for them...  I'll keep you updated, the idea of salted caramel and fudgey brownie is just too yummy. 

Caramel Brownies
Adapted, and soon to be more so, from Cooking Light's September 2011 issue

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Caramel Topping:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. evaporated milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. powder sugar

1-2 Tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips, melted, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Lightly grease a 9x9 glass pan.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, brown sugar and baking powder in large bowl and whisk until well blended.  In smaller bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs and vanilla.  Add slowly to dry mixture and stir until just combined, without over mixing.  Pour batter into prepared pan and move to preheated oven.  Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick  inserted in the center comes out with "moist crumbs clinging".  Don't over bake!  Place on wire rack to cool.

While brownies are cooling, prepare caramel.  Melt butte in saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in brown sugar and evaporated milk.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.  Continue to whisk until caramel is smooth.  Pour over cooled brownies and spread evenly.  Let cool until set, about 20 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth.  Using small spoon, drizzle chocolate in neat patterns over brownies.  Let set, cut into squares and enjoy!

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