After the last 3 kinda ho-hum baking experiments, I needed to go back to my baking bench strength - brownies. They're my baking comfort zone and I wanted to send another care package to my nieces. I had already sent one (or 3) to my niece who's at a school further away from us. My mom had bought her a bunch of mostly Asian food at her request because apparently you can't get coconut juice, ramen noodles, Choco-Pie, Pocky, Yan-Yan and Asian chex mix (my niece's term for it) where she now lives. But like any Filipino lola (grandmother) who can't bear the idea of her grandchild not having the food she wants, my mom went a little overboard in all the stuff she bought for my niece. As in, I couldn't fit it all in 1 large priority mail flat rate box. So I sent one box and promised my niece I'd send the rest later on.
It's now later on and I have just enough room left in the new box to squeeze in some brownies. Plus I wasn't seeing my other niece for a few weeks so it was time she got a care package of brownies from me too. She had visited earlier and my mom already loaded her up with food a couple of weeks ago so least I didn't have to send her a month's worth of groceries too, lol.
This time around I experimented with a coconut caramel layer. First I made an Oreo cookie crust for the bottom layer. You may notice I'm going through an Oreo crust phase, similar to when I went through the nutella crunch topping phase for all the brownies I was making. There's nothing more to it than I want to sneak in a few Oreos as a snack but use up the rest of the package in the brownie crust so I don't end up eating the whole package. Don't ask why I don't just buy the snack pack that comes with 6 Oreos. Then that would be admitting that I buy Oreos just to consume them whereas if I buy the full package, the primary intent is to use them in brownies to give away, not for direct consumption by me. Trust me, there's a logic to that which only I can follow.
The next layer was melted caramels (I melted the 11-ounce bag of Kraft caramel bits with a few tablespoons of heavy cream) to which I mixed in about a cup of coconut. I love coconut and caramel and this thing already had an Oreo cookie crust so what was another (few) thousand calories? Lastly, I adapted this brownie recipe from Carole Bloom's book. The modifications I made is I didn't beat the eggs and sugar like she instructed because I didn't want a lot of air in these brownies and wanted them dense. I also increased the flour to half a cup so it wouldn't be fudgy soft.
|You can tell the brownie layer isn't well baked|
Oh, update to this post because after I wrote all the above, one of my nieces got her package and her thank you text to me read: "Brownies....are heaven. Quite possibly my new favorite ever." Huh. Go figure.
In any case, learn from my mistakes! I would recommend doing something like this in a 9-inch pan so the brownies aren't quite so thick and the 3 layers are a bit thinner. This will help the top brownie layer bake more. I also want to try this with a different base brownie recipe, one that has a bit more of a dense texture rather than a soft one. You can tell the brownie will be softer and be more of a mousse-like texture if it has only a small amount of flour in it like the original recipe for this did. Because the caramel layer is already soft and liquid-y, your brownie layer should be a bit firmer and something you can really sink your teeth into.
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark rum
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (I used ½ cup)
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Line an 8” square baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place the chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula so they melt evenly.
3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the wire whip attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are very thick, pale colored and hold a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Blend in the vanilla, rum and espresso.
4. Combine the flour with the salt and add slowly to the egg mixture with the mixer at low speed. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again.
5. Take the double boiler off the heat, remove the top pan from the water and wipe it dry. Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the mixture and blend thoroughly.