Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Salted Caramel Pecan Brownies

Oh, howdy friends.

Yep, I'm back after a long and unexplained absence. I won't go into detail but, long story short long... there has been a lot of change going on and I needed some time to... adjust. Those of you who know me in real life already know that a certain boy has taken a great job opportunity in Seattle, WA. Hooray for jobs! But also... boo! Seeing as I don't live in Seattle, and my going with him was not an option, that left me here all alone.
  
 
Yes, I'm a big girl. And yep, I can look after myself. But darn, this long distance thing is tough. And we're only four hours apart, I can't imagine if it were any further! But if were being real? My crazy girl brain needed some space to get used to the idea. And that meant that this little blog slipped off the priority list. That makes me sad. You know what doesn't make me sad? How many people KEPT ON READING IT! I checked in the other day and saw that tons of you are still dropping by to take a look at things I've made and ... wow. Just wow. This gives me so much motivation to keep on blogging, so thank you!
Anyways...  I've found at least one major upside to having a second residence in the US of A. And that is Trader Joes, of course! Oh dear, do I ever love that place. Why oh why dont we have any in Canada? If you have never been, let this be a warning: Your first experience may be an overwhelming one. You will dart around the store like a crazy person. You will throw anything and everything into your cart. You may get whiplash looking from isle to isle. Afterwards, you will gorge yourself on cookies and chocolate-covered-everything and you will feel sick.
Just me? Oh.

One thing I picked up on the last trip were these crazy little Fleur De Sel Caramels. I am a goner for anything sweet and salty, and I knew from the moment I bought them that these were destined to be combined with chocolate and baked into something delicious. Brownies to the rescue! I mixed toasted pecans into brownie batter, dotted the top with the little caramels, baked them up and sprinkled with sea salt. BAM! Ooey gooey salty sweet brownies. Dig in!



  

Salted Caramel and Pecan Brownies

Adapted from S'mores Brownies from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.

These are moist cakey brownies, studded with pecans and melted caramel centres. If you can't get your hands on the TJ's caramels, any soft candy should do really. Or you could try marbling the top with a liquid caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecan halves, chopped
12 Trader Joes Fleur De Sel Caramels, or similar candy

1 tablespoon fleur de sel or course sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9X13 pan. I did not line my pan with parchment, but I think I would do this next time, to prevent sticking. Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water. Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl, stirring until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and coffee powder. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Gradually add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, taking care not to let them cook. Next, add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix until well combined. Fold in the chopped pecans. 

4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Unwrap each caramel candy (the most labour intensive step in the recipe, without a doubt), and roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Place the 12 caramel balls on top of the brownie batter. 

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer or cake tester comes out almost clean. In a small dish, combine 1 tablespoon fleur de sel with 1 tablespoon sugar. Use fingers to sprinkle as much as desired across the top of the finished brownies. 

These are best enjoyed warm from the oven, or zapped in the microwave just long enough to melt the caramel. They would also be RIDICULOUS with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh man, why didn't I think of that when I still had some?!

I know that today is a big day for all the American readers out there. And although our Thanksgiving came and went last month, I will be attending an American's-in-Canada-Friends-Giving this weekend. I will be whipping up the pumpkin cream pie from last year, because the boyfriend loves it so, plus a savoury dish I'll hopefully share on here soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

And here is a rainbow. Because today, I'm thankful for rainbows.




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