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    Entries in caramelly goodness (11)

    Friday
    Feb242012

    Finally! We Bring You Brownies!

    How have we possibly been so remiss?  We’ve been posting for more than a year and have shared more than 100 recipes, but not one of them was for brownies!  How is that even possible?  Well, in an effort to make amends for this egregious oversight, I bring you not just plain old brownies, but rich, chocolaty, chewy, gooey, caramel covered, pecan studded, turtle brownies.  You’ve waited long enough, so let’s get started. 

    Here’s what you’ll need for the brownies:

    โ…“ cup cocoa
    โ…“ cup boiling water
    ¼ cup vegetable oil
    6 Tablespoons butter
    2 cups sugar
    4 oz. chopped dark chocolate
    ½ teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    3 eggs
    1 ½ cups flour
    You’ll also need about ½ cup of chopped pecans, but they don’t go inside the brownies.  Just set them aside for much later. 

    Before you start with the food, line a 9x13 pan with parchment and preheat your oven to 350°

    When that’s done, sift the cocoa into a sauce pan and pour over the boiling water.

    Whisk over low heat until it becomes smooth.

    Whisk in the sugar, oil, salt, and butter. 

    Continue whisking over low heat until a good part of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes very shiny.  Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. 

    Stir that in until it’s completely melted and incorporated.  In a separate bowl, crack your 3 eggs and beat them. 

    Now, before adding them to your chocolate mixture, you need to make sure it’s not too hot.  Your finger will make the perfect thermometer for this.  Bathwater warm or cooler is fine.  If it feels hot, give it a few minutes to cool down before adding the eggs.  When it’s ready, go ahead and pour them in along with the vanilla. 

    Whisk the mixture until the eggs are completely incorporated.

    Sift the flour over the top.

    Lose the whisk for this part and carefully fold or stir the flour in with a spatula.  You don’t want to over mix at this point.  When the flour is incorporated, pour the batter into your prepared pan.

    Spread it to the edges and level it out as best you can. 

    Now, into the oven for 30 – 35 minutes.  A toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge should come out clean, and it’ll be shiny and crackly on top. 

    Put those aside to cool completely.  I know, your whole house smells like brownies and it’s almost impossible, but you can do eet.  Once they’ve finished cooling, it’s time to start on the caramel.

     

     

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    ¾ cups half & half, divided
    3 Tablespoons syrup
    ¾ cups sugar
    2 Tablespoons butter
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla

     (this caramel is on the salty side, which I like, but feel free to reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you prefer.)

     

     

    Place everything but the vanilla and ¼ cup of the half & half into a pan over medium low heat.

    Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved, then increase the heat to medium and continue stirring until it comes to a boil.  Put the lid on and set a timer for 3 minutes.  During that time, get a little dish of ice water and wash your spoon, or get a clean one out.  When the time’s up, remove the lid.  It’ll probably look something like this. 

    When it’s closer to ready, it will look more like this, though. 

    Drip a little of the hot syrup into the water. 

    It should come together into a ball that will mostly hold its shape, but is easily molded with your fingers. 

    When you get to that point, turn off the heat and add the vanilla and half & half. 

    It’ll hiss and sputter, but just stir, and it will calm down.  When the boiling has stopped, pour the caramel into a heatproof container set atop a hot pad or dish towel. 

    As you can see, my caramel has little brown specks in it.  That just means it got a little dark in a spot on the bottom.  I had thought to toss it and start over, but it tasted so amazing, I decided to keep it.  Once it’s on the brownies, you’ll never even know.  Give the caramel a while to cool.  You want it to be a soft, spreadable consistency, but not runny.  I got impatient and put mine in the fridge for a bit.  While it cools, back to the brownies.  Remove them from the pan and cut them down to fit snuggly into a square pan. 

    If you have a 9x9, that would be ideal.  Mine was 8x8, but I made it work. 

    You should have a piece something like this leftover.  See those edges there?  Those are for you to eat. 

    Remove the rest of the edges, and cut the remaining chunk into little squares.  About ¾ of an inch or so. 

    I know, you think I’ve surely gone over the cliff, but stay with me.  I promise I don’t need a padded cell just yet.  So, back to the brownies that are in the square pan.  Pour the cooled caramel over the top, reserving about 2 Tablespoons. 

    As you can see, I decided to line the pan with parchment for easy removal and cutting when they’re done.  Spread the caramel to the edges and sprinkle โ…“ cup or so of the chopped pecans over the top. 

    Now, take your little brownie cubes and arrange them sort of haphazardly across the surface.  Press them gently into the caramel.

    Heat the remaining caramel for 5 – 10 seconds in the microwave, just to thin it a little.  Then drizzle it all over the top. 

    Last, but not least, sprinkle on the remaining chopped pecans. 

    Could you just leave the whole thing in one pan and spread the caramel and pecans over the top?  Sure, but why would you when you can create a masterpiece like this?

    I hope this has gained your forgiveness for our brownie blunder.  Is there something you’d really like to see that we’ve somehow overlooked? 

         

    Monday
    Dec192011

    perfect little snack

    Roasted garlic is freaking awesome.

    And on a holiday cheese platter, it looks really fancy.

    Even if that's a little snack platter you make for yourself late at night while doing laundry in preparation for packing for your much needed winter break now that exams are over. (I don't want to talk about it)

    The usual cheese and cracker plate looks fabulously impressive with a bulb or two in the middle, and it can also dress up a sausage and pickle tray too.

    Unbelievably easy to make as well. And despite what some kitchenware stores would have you think, you don't need any fancy tools or single purpose gadgets to make it. (seriously, who the hell has the cupboard space for this shit?)

    In a pure minimalist fashion, all you need is tinfoil.

    What you need:

    • garlic
    • olive oil

    believe it or not, this ingredient pic is not missing anything

    if you want, you can add salt and/or pepper and/or oregano and/or rosemary and/or crushed dried red chili peppers depending on what flavours are on the rest of your platter, but absolutely none of these things are necessary (I do like a bit of rosemary on mine sometimes though)

    What you gotta do:

    Rub the bulb with your hands until most of the loose, dry, papery skin is gone. You should be able to see each of the outer cloves individually, but they should still have their skins on them.

    Newer bulbs seem to hold on to the skin a bit better. Don't worry about getting it all off; you'll just have to work a bit more to get the yumminess inside. And don't worry if you accidentally bare a clove of garlic, it'll cook just the same without it. You could even actually peel them all and roast them bare, but that doesn't look as nice on the appy platter, and it's way too much work.

    Set the bulb on some foil and turn up the edges to make a little bowl.

    Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top.

    More oil than that. I just wanted to post this pic because it's an action shot and I actually caught a tiny perfectly round drop of oil.

    Yeah, more like that.

    Fold the foil around the bulb.

    Leave an opening in the top, and put this into a 400F oven. Dammit. Got all the ingredients in the pic but forgot the oven preheating step.

    This will need about 45 minutes.

    It isn't as long as you think. And if you've got 3 or 4 in there, you may need up to an hour. Your goal here is to caramelize the garlic a bit, much the same way you would with onions, but at a bit higher heat.

    After about half an hour, your mouth will water at the smell. Sharp and garlicky, but slightly sweet as the delicious sugars start to ooze out of the papers (that's the popping sputtering sound you hear). Give it another 10 or 15 minutes and the sugars will do this:

    Oh man, this is going to be fucking tasty.

    With a bit of crusty french bread, some spicy sausage, a mild cheese, and omg you have to try pickled asparagus, this is a perfect miniature version of a nibbly tray.

    What do you like to put on your nibbly trays?