Last Saturday, I was in serious baking mode to make enough to contribute to the bake sale. I had several people tell me they were planning on buying the Chilled Peanut Butter Brownies I posted earlier and I couldn't help thinking, "eep, should I tell them there's only 9 pieces of that one available?" I could make more of those but I also can never resist trying out more recipes and making a variety of different types of brownies.
I had a lot to bake though so I cheated a bit with this recipe. Instead of making the caramel from scratch, I melted some Kraft caramels with a little milk until it was the consistency I wanted (liquid but not too thinly liquid yet not too thick or else it'll be too chewy rather than creamy once you bite into it) and used that instead. I also didn't wait for the brownie to cool, put the caramel and toppings on top and reheat it back in the oven. I didn't want to risk the brownies drying out by a second baking, however brief, and I was also trying to maximize my baking time so I baked the brownies until they were (slightly under-)done then I poured the caramel over the hot brownie and sprinkled on the toppings. You get the same result with less fuss. I also didn't make the caramel layer from scratch because when I've done the sugar/water thing, the caramel always comes out too sweet, even for me.
I have to say I loved these brownies. Out of all the things I made for the bake sale, this was probably my favorite and it was just as well I had to give all but a sliver (for the taste test) to the bake sale because I might've eaten more than what was good for me if I hadn't. These were moist and fudgy without being overwhelming and I loved the caramel, macadamias and chocolate chips on top. They provided great texture and flavor contrasts and complements to the brownie.
I'm happy to report that the bake sale was a huge success. They raised over $7000 (that's right, $7K, that's not a typo). I think it was probably the generosity of family and friends who contributed and got baked goods in return rather than they actually sold $7000 worth of baked goods but either way, those are phenomenal results. My friend Robbie told me my contributions netted $300 which I also found amazing for 4 batches of brownies and a pound cake but I was glad I could help. The sobering part is I don't think $7K makes much of a dent in what the family needs to cover the medical expenses but it's $7K more than they had to put towards the bills before and I'm sure other efforts will be ongoing. Thanks to all those who contributed and made it possible.
|The top view|
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
¼ cup heavy cream, scalded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 ½ cups)
6 ounces milk chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
2. Make the brownie layer: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.
3. In a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate and the semisweet chocolate with the butter. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.
4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar and eggs until lightened and pale in color. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the center is set but still moist and a bit fudgy. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
6. Prepare the caramel layer: In a small heavy saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then let boil without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber. While the syrup is boiling, brush down the sides of the pan from time to time with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the hot cream. Continue stirring, over low heat if necessary, until all of the caramel is dissolved into the cream. Stir in the butter until smooth. Set the caramel aside until it has cooled slightly but is still spreadable.
7. To assemble: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the caramel over the cooled brownie. Sprinkle the toppings – macadamia nuts, semisweet chips and chocolate chips – over the caramel layer and place the brownies in the oven for 5 minutes to set the topping (do not let the chips melt completely).
8. Set on a wire rack to cool, then cut into squares.