Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Fox Brownies with Caramel Swirl and Sea Salt

I got a little crazy for desserts this year. Last year, as you may recall, I made two desserts, neither of which were pie. I made some pretty delicious brownies and since I was having a non-pie eating chocolate lover for dinner, I knew I needed brownies once again. And when I saw the recipe for these brownies in Mix (which gets randomly dropped off on my doorstep. I'm not complaining.), I knew they were the ones. The original recipe has you use store bought caramel sauce and because it was Thanksgiving, that wasn't going to happen, so I turned to Ina Garten's recipe. I made pumpkin-caramel sauce last year for my panna cotta and because that went well, I figured this would be fine too. As it turns out, it was the only mini-disaster of the day and my sister-in-law, a culinary graduate, helped me rescue it. And the brownies? They were amazing.

Red Fox Brownies with Caramel Swirl and Sea Salt from Mix Magazine and Caramel Sauce from Barefoot Contessa:

Serves at least 8 and probably a lot more

For the caramel sauce:
1½ c. sugar
1/3 c. water
1½ c. heavy cream
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the brownies:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chopped into 1” pieces
6 eggs
1 Tb. vanilla
3 2/3 c. sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
4 1/3 c. flour
Caramel sauce, divided
1½ tsp. sea salt, divided

To make the caramel sauce, mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the vanilla extract. Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. For whatever reason, my sauce was just too thin. Part of the problem may have been that I use all natural sugar, which is already pretty brown and though it smelled done and looked mostly done, it really wasn't. Becca (not me, my sister-in-law) rescued it by just making a lot more and whisking it all in together. It still wasn't as thick as I would have liked, but it worked and that's what's important.

For the brownies, preheat oven to 350 degres. Grease a 9-by-13" baking dish.

Melt chocolate and butter together over a double boiler. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Place eggs, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip on high for 5 minutes or until the batter is thick and holds a ribbon when the beaters are lifted from the bowl. Remove from mixer. Gently sift flour over the top of the eggs mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour gently. Fold the chocolate mixture into the batter quickly, being sure to get all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Drop half of the caramel sauce over the batter in dollops. Swirl into the batter. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sea salt. Pour the remaining batter over the caramel and spoon the remaining caramel sauce in dollops over the top. Swirl into the batter and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sea salt over the top.

Bake until the top has a thin, flaky layer, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and it is slightly domed, about 50 to 60 minutes. A knife inserted into the center will come away with just a crumb or two.

Cool before serving. I realized when starting this post that I only took one picture of the brownies and that was before they baked. I promise you they were amazing and were very well received. So much so that Aaron made a dessert fence. It was partly to stop the dog (there's his cute nose there) from getting to the apple pie and the brownies, but also to stop Amy, Becca, and Aaron from constantly picking at them. Unlike last year, these ones were so big, thick, and rich that there were brownies for quite a few days after, so there's really no excuse for me not getting a picture of them. I guess you'll just need to make it yourself.

I will definitely make this again, but I will probably do a half recipe. These were gigantic! I should have known when I saw that they took six eggs, but just went with it anyway. They are so decadent though that I think a half size will do most people just fine.

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