Salted Caramel Brownies

salted-caramel-brownies

Having been away for a few weeks it was really nice to come home to my parents place in the country and enjoy the peace and quiet these mountains have to offer. All I have wanted to do since I have been here is read this, practice my calligraphy and bake. I also got to enjoy a nice long walk yesterday. The sound of the birds and the rustling of the leaves was pretty therapeutic. This time of year is one of my favourites (even though I am a true summer girl at heart.) I absolutely love the changing of the leaves and the smell of fall. The air is crisp, the sun is still shining and yet you just want to layer up and get cozy! It’s the perfect balance, just like these salty sweet brownies.

salted-caramel-brownies

When I come across a recipe I love, I end up making it over and over and over again. I am kind of like that with everything to be honest. Yes, I am that person that will put her favourite song on repeat, what can I say, when I like something I can’t resist enjoying it, and this right here is one of those recipes. I have no shame, it’s so worth eating again and again…this one is a winner! The first time I came across this recipe I was beyond excited to try it, but when I saw that it required making homemade caramel, I thought “there is no way I can pull this off.” (I’ve had trouble with sugar at high temperatures in the past, let’s just leave it at that) But let me assure you, if you are feeling the way I felt, it’s really not as scary as it seems! I was so happy to discover that making caramel is actually one of the easiest things to do! I really want to try making other recipes with it now!

salted-caramel-brownies

I am heading to a big family dinner and wanted to bring something sweet for everyone to enjoy. I needed something that would be a crowd pleaser and was fairly easy to transport, since this said family dinner is in Toronto. I chose this recipe for many reasons. First of all it has an awesome balance of salty and sweet and it has these ooey, gooey salty caramel surprises in almost every bite! It also uses a one bowl brownie recipe, which is awesome. I am pretty messy in the kitchen so when it can all be done in one bowl I am pretty happy about it and so is Zack. He always complains that when I cook he has to clean up a storm, but when he cooks I get away with cleaning a few dishes and then get to put my feet up (I am working on it!) For this batch I decided I would double the original recipe since it was devoured within seconds of being put on the table at the last family dinner. I am hoping that this time there will be enough for everyone to enjoy! I also discovered that this recipe can be made without flour for a gluten-free alternative. It was a happy mistake but they turned out just fine! I think I will be making these for passover this year!

salted-caramel-brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Caramel
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt, more to taste)
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Brownies
3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/8 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour (you can omit the flour if you want and they turn out just fine)

To Make the Caramel:
1. Prepare a medium sized plate by putting parchment paper that has been lightly buttered over it to prevent the caramel from sticking
2. In a medium dry saucepan melt the sugar over medium-high heat until its a deep copper colour. Stir if necessary to break up any sugar chunks that may form. (This will take about 5 minutes). Remove from heat once it has reached the desired colour and add in the butter string until incorporated. It may not entirely blend together but do your best. Now you can stir in the heavy cream and the salt and return to medium-high heat. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer and melt any sugar that may have solidified. Cook the bubbling caramel for a few minutes, until it is a shade darker.
3. Pour the hot mixture out onto the parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer. Freeze until solidified, which can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

To Make the Brownies
1. When your caramel is almost firm you can start by heating your oven to 350°F. Line an 8X8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (in my case I used a bigger pan because I doubled the recipe), extending it up the two sides. You will want to butter the paper to insure the brownies don’t stick.
2. In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, add chocolate and butter and stir until only a few butter bits remain. The chocolate will be beautiful and silky smooth. Take the mixture off the heat and stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. When the mixture is fully incorporated, whisk in the sugar sugar and then then eggs, one at a time. Then add the flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.

Assemble Brownies
1. When the caramel is firm, remove it from the freezer and chop it into rough 1-inch squares. Gently fold all but a small amount of caramel bits into the batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading until mostly even. Scatter remaining caramel bits on top. Bake in heated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

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Food Therapy; Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

When stress hits, everyone deals with it differently. Some take a walk, some read a book, others take a bath. I find that when I have had a rough day or I am feeling overwhelmed, all I need is a little food therapy. Once I start creating in the kitchen, my mind is completely focused on the task at hand and all of my days stress disappears! The greatest part is that I get a reward at the end… the delicious finished product to eat, enjoy and share with others!

bananachoco

These easy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut cookies were my food therapy. They are not only easy to make and delicious to eat, they are also fairly healthy for a cookie. I substituted the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar for 3/4 cup of pure maple syrup. You can find the rule for subbing maple syrup for sugar here!

These cookies came out great! They are so big and fluffy, filled with sweet banana, maple syrup, oats and a little added touch… coconut. Delicious!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Ingredients: (Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cup (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1/4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional and add for your own taste)

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 355 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Put butter and maple syrup into a separate bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
4. Reduce speed to low, add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
5. Mix in the banana and add the flour mixture to it slowly; mix until just combined.
6. Fold in oats and chocolate chips.
7. Grease a cookie sheet with a bit of oil
8. Drop about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time onto the cookie sheet, carefully spacing them in order to give them room to expand (about 2 inches apart).
9. Bake cookies until golden brown or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
10.Let them set for 12 to 13 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.