Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Turtle Brownies

It’s that time of year again. April is full of wonderful Easter goodies, cookies, and other sweet treats. I can’t wait to have Easter egg hunts with my children like my sister and I had. The one thing I know I will succeed in doing is baking. This brownie recipe was my first attempt at homemade brownies. I usually make the boxed stuff because I don’t like brownies (SHOCKER!). They always are either crunchy on the edges or unbaked in the middle. These were not even close to the boxed stuff (not to mention the caramel and pecans)!

I actually liked these, which I blame partly on the pregnancy as I’ve developed a higher tolerance (read: craving) for chocolate these days. The chocolate isn’t too sweet or overwhelming and the caramel and pecans make it even more perfectly crunchy and gooey. I know the blogger who posted this said she made a half batch and I did as well. They turned out fantastic! I got compliments all day from coworkers.

Turtle Brownies
 Adapted from: Annies Eats, originally The Pastry Queen
Yields: 24 brownies

For the brownies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used bittersweet chips)
1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup pecan, coarsely chopped (optional)
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the caramel filling:
14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and grease the foil well with butter or cooking spray. In a heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water, combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter. Heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. (Alternatively, you can microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted.) Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until well incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt just until combined. Spread about half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature, and let cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the chopped pecans (if using) to a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and light golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the caramel filling, combine the caramel candies and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Stir in half of the pecans and immediately spread the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the caramel layer, taking care to pour and spread it evenly otherwise it will be difficult to spread evenly over the caramel layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the remaining pecans on top of the final brownie layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving. (To speed the cooling process, chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.)

Lift the brownies from the pan using the edges of the foil. Remove the foil and cut the brownies into individual squares. Some of the foil might stick to the caramel sides, but it peels of easily. Store in an airtight container.

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