Salted Caramel Christmas Brownies

Salted Caramel Christmas Brownies

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I am just a little obsessed. Just a teensy, tiny . . . okay, maybe medium-sized-ly, perhaps colossally, ridiculously obsessed with salted caramel. It is sweet. And salty. Gooey, rich, an amazing melding of buttery caramel and that surprising bite into a delicate flake of sea salt. Salted caramel is, pretty much, absolutely perfect – poured into thumbprint cookies, slathered in between layers of cake, whipped up to frost cupcakes, and, today, drizzled over fudge brownies.

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I first encountered the idea of baking brownies in cookie cutters from this amazing list entitled “38 Clever Christmas Food Hacks That Will Make Your Life So Much Easier” aka my favorite webpage of the past month. Because, although I have attempted to lead you astray by baking things like Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake and German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, I am actually quite the lazy chef.

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Like, ughh do I really have to wash out the KitchenAid bowl in between different cookie batches? And, hmm, should I get out the candy thermometer for this caramel, or can I just guesstimate? (By the by, judging by the damage I generally incur on my saucepans, I’m guessing that the answer is: get out the thermometer).

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In any case, I’m treating this list of Christmas Food Hacks as someone’s early Christmas gift to moi (you should really check it out too – there’s Crockpot French toast!). I was especially excited about the cookie cutter brownies, because, last year, while shopping for the essentials at Target last year, I managed to pick up a very nonessential silicon muffin tray with Christmas-themed molds! Color my Little Miss Christmas (S)elf Ecstatic. As a side note, I should never shop for the essentials at Target because they have clearly employed my evil twin to spill all my secrets and tell them everything I could possibly want to buy – even things I didn’t know existed! Continue reading

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Favorite Fudge Brownies

I have a confession. This is big time…but I think we’ve reached the point where I can divulge these types of secrets. Here goes: I have always preferred brownies from the box to homemade brownies. Always. It doesn’t matter if the brownies have cheesecake, peanut butter, excessive amounts of chocolate chips, or even if they’re from a restaurant (actually, especially restaurant brownies…ugh), they’ve just never been as good as the box mix brownies.

So, when my friend Bernard (hi Bernard!) requested that I post a brownie recipe, I was scared. Outwardly, I was smiling and saying, “Yeah, of course, I love brownies!”…but really, I was thinking, ‘I do love brownies. Brownies from the box. The Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Box. FAMILY SIZE.’

And then…I started researching like a mad person. My google search history is now filled with searches like “Cakey vs fudgy brownies number of eggs” and “How do I make fudgy brownies???” I guess that’s not such a bad search history to have.

Especially because these searches did, in fact, yield a bounty of results. It turns out that there are actually three categories of brownies: 1. Cakey (ew), 2. Fudgy, (yay), and 3. Chewy (what?). And then I couldn’t figure out which one I liked better: Fudgy or Chewy?

Fine cooking described fudgy as “dense, with a moist, intensely chocolatey interior” and chewy as “moist, but not quite as gooey as a fudgy one.” First, please stop using the m-word. Secondly, I’ll take one of both, thanks.

Hey, where’d that brownie go? Oh, that’s right. In. my. BELLY.

But really, here’s what I learned:

  1. More fat = fudgier. Ain’t that the truth (if you replace the “f” in fudgier with a “p”). Thus, I used butter and melted chocolate chips (in addition to a tiny bit of cocoa powder).
  2. The development of a brownie crust while baking depends on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added. This is because beating the eggs forms a meringue, also known as the elusive brownie crust. More beating, more crust. And I do love those brownie crusts.
  3. Less flour = less cakey. My recipe calls for only 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in the entire recipe!

These brownies . . . have a light, delectable crust. And then. Fudge heaven. I know it’s a bit (extremely) presumptuous to call these “Favorite” Fudge Brownies, but I actually like them as much as (or maybe more than? gasp) my trusty Betty Crocker box. And that is saying something. Continue reading