Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turtle Squares

Turtle Squares - made February 15, 2010 from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson

Whoever invented the concept of a "turtle", meaning the confection of chocolate, caramel and nuts (not the animal), needs to be saluted, thanked and just generally adored for sheer genius. This is another of those I-love-Lisa-Yockelson's-brownie-recipes sort of recipe. This was not only really easy to make but the brownies were moist and fudgy and the caramel topping was a nice touch to cut the richness of the chocolate with the sweetness of caramel. The only drawback to these brownies are the caramel prevents them from being stacked on top of each other and when you wrap them in plastic, the caramel sticks to the plastic so these don't make good care package brownies. But if you can eat them in person, they're worth the calories and those are the only types of brownies I like to eat.

1 cup unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened, alkalized cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
½ pound (16 tablespoons or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
4 large eggs
1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Caramel Nut Topping using chopped walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts for sprinkling, for applying to the baked cake of brownies

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Film the inside of a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. In a small mixing bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon of the sifted mixture.
3. Whisk the melted butter and melted unsweetened chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl until thoroughly blended. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl until frothy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Blend in the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Sift over the sifted ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula (or whisk) until the particles of flour are completely absorbed, making sure to scrape along the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. The batter will be moderately thick. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth over the top with a rubber spatula.
5. Bake the sweet for 33 to 38 minutes, or until set. Let the sweet stand in the pan on a cooling rack for 1 ½ hours.
6. Puddle the warm caramel topping on the top of the bar cookie layer, using a small teaspoon, or lightly spread it in patches, using a flexible palette knife. Immediately sprinkle the nuts on the caramel.
7. Let the caramel set for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cut the entire cake into four quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares, using a small, sharp knife. Remove the turtle squares from the baking pan, using a small, offset metal spatula.

Caramel Nut Topping

25 vanilla-flavored caramels (about 8.2 ounces)
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon light (table) cream
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup whole roasted peanuts

1. Place the caramels, milk, cream and salt in a small, heavy saucepan (preferably enameled cast iron). Set over moderately low heat to moderate heat and cook for 10 to 13 minutes, until the caramels melt down, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. At first, it appears as if the candy won’t ever dissolve into a creamy, smooth and flowing mixture but it will.
2. When the caramels begin to melt, stir the mixture continuously until completely smooth. Simmer the mixture for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until lightly bubbly, then stir in the vanilla extract. Immediately and quickly spread, spoon or thickly drizzle the topping over the thoroughly baked and cooled sweet.
3. Sprinkle the chopped, roasted nuts to the caramel-covered surface as soon as the topping is applied and still warm.

Freshly baked, the squares keep for 2 days

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