Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caramel Witches

Caramel Witches - made September 18, 2010 from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Caramel and chocolate are probably two of my favorite flavor combinations. In a brownie, they're almost unbeatable. Except when they don't turn out. I had high hopes for this brownie and I thought it was a sure thing. But something went awry, either with the recipe, with me or both. From a recipe standpoint, it's very similar to the original Fat Witch brownie recipe so I felt like it should've turned out. But there just isn't enough chocolate in this brownie (and in the original recipe) to make it very chocolatey. Combined with the sweetness of caramel, it's a little bit too sweet and not chocolatey enough.

My part of the failure of these brownies is I didn't bake them long enough. I'm used to underbaking brownies to make them fudgy but that only works when there's enough chocolate in the brownie to set when the brownie cools. There's simply not enough chocolate in this recipe to set and offset the relatively high amount of butter. So they came out mushy. Combined with the caramel which is mushy to start with, it's just all mushiness. Fudgy is good. Mushy, not so much. Plus the caramel sank straight to the bottom and wasn't sandwiched in the middle like I had hoped not to mention it was a little thick and chewy (the caramel part, not the brownie itself).

Here's what I would do differently next time I make these brownies - and there will be a next time because I really want these to turn out:

1. Chill the bottom half of the brownie first so when you spread the caramel, it has a better chance of not sinking straight to the bottom when you bake the brownies.
2. Thin the caramels with more water or milk so they don't harden when the brownie cools or be quite so chewy.
3. Bake them longer.

Caramel Witches

14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
½ cup unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
30 caramel squares
2 tablespoons lukewarm water

1. Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well combined. If desired, stir in chopped pecans by hand.
4. Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the chocolate mixture. Mix until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
5. Pour half of the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan; it will be about ¼” high. Set the pan aisde.
6. Unwrap the caramels and put them in a microwaveable bowl with the water. Microwave on medium power and check every 60 seconds or until the caramels have melted into a thick liquid. Remove the bowl from the microwave and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the caramel with a fork to get a consistent texture. Pour the caramel over the batter in the pan. Don’t go all the way to the edges and don’t worry about covering every spot. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, allowing the caramel to set.
7. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spread the remaining half of the batter evenly over the caramel using a spatula. Let the pan sit for 15 minutes to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
8. Bake for 35 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.
9. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour. Right before serving, I suggest cutting 18 pieces since they are rich and satisfying!

Makes 12 to 18 brownies

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