Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rocky Road Mud Bars

Rocky Road Mud Bars - made September 21, 2013, modified from Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson
I mentioned going on a business trip (or 2) earlier.  For my first trip, I flew to our company headquarters to meet with my counterparts at HQ and make the rounds of in-person meetings I needed to have.  Whenever I go to headquarters, I've now made it a practice to bring goodie bags with me to distribute to my coworkers there.  After all, I bake for my local office pretty much every week but only go out to headquarters once a quarter or so.  Fair's fair.  However, I didn't have a lot of time before I went so I only made a couple of different brownies and a sheet cake.  That may sound like a lot but I also have a lot of coworkers so I had to split the bounty across a broad base.
I hadn't made anything from Lisa Yockelson in awhile and, thanks to striking upon using Midnight Milky Ways for anything that calls for marshmallows, like a kid with a new toy, I went searching for something I previously had skipped because of the marshmallow factor.  Rocky Road Mud Bars was an obvious choice. The picture in the book itself is a little deceiving because it looks like she layered the marshmallows on top to feature prominently but the directions have you mixing it into the batter. I decided to do both and re-wrote the directions accordingly.
Anything that has an Oreo cookie crumb crust is a great way to use up Oreos from a package that's been opened for awhile.  You know, where the Oreos haven't gone stale yet and still have some crunch but not the snap they had when the package is first opened.  When you pulverize them into crumbs, add melted butter and spread them in an even layer in the pan, none of that matters.
The main thing you have to be careful about with the crust is not to dislodge it when you're spreading the brownie batter.  I recommend dropping the batter in even dollops all over the pan so you only have to do minimally spreading to cover the bottom layer completely. As usual with brownies, the key is not to overbake it.  Shortly before they're done (moist crumbs on the toothpick when inserted near the center) is when you want to sprinkle the chopped up Midnight Milky Ways on top so they'll partially melt on top of the hot brownie.  If you've inadvertently baked the brownies longer or to "doneness", just turn the oven off and sprinkle the candy on top to give it even a little melting time without baking the brownie for much longer. I thought these were decent but I could probably have used more Midnight Milky Ways on top and/or also added Milky Way Caramels to really push them into the decadent zone.

Chocolate Cookie Layer
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
1 ½ cups plus 3 tablespoons chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (I used Oreos)

Mud Brownie Batter
1 ¼ cups bleached cake flour
¼ cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ pound (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
5 large eggs
2 cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (I left out)
1/3 cup Midnight Milky Ways, cut into large dice plus another ½ cup for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 325⁰F. Line a 10-inch square baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix the cookie layer: Pour the melted butter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the chocolate cookie crumbs evenly over the melted butter.  Press down on the crumbs with the underside of an offset metal spatula so that the crumbs absorb the butter.  Bake the cookie layer in the preheated oven for 4 minutes.  Place the baking pan on a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the batter: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.  In a small bowl, toss the chocolate chips with ½ teaspoon of the sifted mixture.
  4. Whisk the melted butter and melted chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl until smooth.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 minute to blend, add the sugar and whisk for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until just incorporated.  Blend in the melted butter-chocolate mixture, mixing thoroughly.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Sift the flour mixture over and slowly stir it in, mixing until the particles of flour are absorbed, using a whisk, wooden spoon or flat wooden paddle.  Blend in the chocolate chips, walnuts (if using) and 1/3 cup Midnight Milky Ways.
  5. Spoon the batter in large dollops on the cookie crumb layer.  Carefully spread the batter over the cookie layer, using a flexible palette knife or spatula.
  6. Bake the brownies in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until set.  5 minutes before the brownies are done, sprinkle with the ½ cup of Midnight Milky Ways and return to oven to soften. Remove when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Cool the brownies completely in the pan on a rack. Cut when cool.

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