Yoohoo! Hello, everyone. :) I'm so happy school's finally out! Nothing went as planned this year, but it kinda came together in the end and we actually survived. Still, I counted my blessings everyday and constantly reminded myself, "be thankful, it could be worse".
Anyway, I can finally kick back, relax and take a break from everything. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. First up, a trip (tonight!) for some precious me-time.
*rubs hands in glee*
Some of you may remember my little European excursion last year. Well, looks like it's gonna become an annual tradition. :) Hey, if the currency exchange rate is in my favour, why not? Ha!
Join me (@littleteochew) on Twitter and/or Instagram and keep me company while I am en France. I promise to share some nice photos when I find free wifi. Tee hee! Till then, feast on these yummy Salted Caramel Brownies. Signing out for now.
When these Salted Caramel Brownies came out of the oven, I winced. They were so ugly. I had looked forward to slicing up a slab of pretty swirls, but what greeted me was anything but. The caramel marbling was uneven and the surface still had that gooey, uncooked look. "The ugliest brownie I have ever baked" - I tweeted. Yes, it looked that unappetising.
Seriously, how does one mess up a brownie? Well, evidently I just showed myself it was possible.
There I stood in the kitchen - and this was almost at midnight - wondering what I should do with them. Slice off the tops? Scrape out the gooey bits? Bake longer? What???
Then my teenager coolly sauntered in after a day of Skyping and Youtube-ing (school hols/do what you like/sleep when you please), took a look at the wreck and said she wanted a piece.
"Really? You don't have to force yourself, you know ..." I counter-offered.
But she insisted, so I cut her a small piece and watched as she valiantly took a bite.
"Mmmmmm, it's good!"
What, really? I cut a piece for myself and realised the girl was right. Looks aside, these brownies really were yummy! My only gripe was the weak flavour of caramel but that was totally my fault. I didn't cook it long enough, and hence ended up with something a little too runny.
As if on cue, my daughter remarked, "I think you could have cooked the caramel longer. It would have been thicker and nicer. You know, sugar ... darker, browner. Thermal decomposition."
At that point - and I kid you not - everything flashed back to 13 years ago when she was a baby in my arms, incapable of doing anything except cry to indicate her needs. And now? Thermal decomposition, mum.
Thanks a lot, darling. I learn (and re-learn) something new everyday, oftentimes from you and your brothers. ❤
And yes, the more important lesson this time - that is, to give everything a chance and not judge a brownie by its cover.
Like a newborn, the brownies looked a lot better the next day! ;)
(slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
For the Brownies:
- 5 ounces (142g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona 55% Equatoriale)
- 2 ounces (57g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona 66% Caraïbe)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick / 113g) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 3 eggs
- 11/4 cups (280g) castor sugar (I reduced to 180g)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup (110g) all-purpose flour
For the Salted Caramel Sauce*:
- 1 cup (225g) castor sugar (I used 180g)
- 6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2/3 cup (156ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
* Note: I only used half of my caramel as I prefer more brownie, less caramel. Of course you can make the full batch and keep the caramel for other bakes too.
Sea salt flakes (I used Maldon - yummy!) for topping brownies.
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan, with the baking paper overhanging at the sides. This makes for easy removal of the brownies later on.
2. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, but that's okay - it will melt eventually - just keep whisking. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. At that point, whisk in the salt, and then add the butter all at once and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the heavy cream (it will foam up when first added). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before using in the brownies. The leftover sauce can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (You'll probably need to warm it up a bit straight from the refrigerator.)
3. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt the chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. (Or, melt in the microwave on 50% power for 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.) Whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool.
4. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture; then stir in the flour until just combined. Pour about half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread into the corners. Spoon 9 dollops of Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. Top with the remaining brownie mixture, spread into the corners and level the surface with a spatula. Again, spoon 9 dollops of the Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. With a dull butter knife, gently run it through the batter to swirl the batter just a bit (don't do it too much or it will all mix together). Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top.
5. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove the brownies from the pan using the overhanging "handles" and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares and give a generous sprinkle of sea salt flakes. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.