I promise to bake an actual holiday cookie this weekend, but for now here’s a recipe based on one from a poultry farmer named Mary Lou who submitted it to Cooking Pleasures magazines.
About Cooking Pleasures — it’s not an easy magazine to come by unless you are a member of Cooking Club of America. Some of my friends are and have spoken very highly of the magazine, which I’d never seen until yesterday when I found a copy of it in the waiting room of the blood bank. It turned out to be kind of a cross between Fine Cooking and Taste of Home — sophisticated recipes with beautiful photography combined with friendly approachable prose and reader submissions. I felt really lucky to find it.
Now I’ve only stolen a waiting room magazine once (and that office sort of deserved it for reasons I won’t go into), but I still feel kind of guilty about that, so I vowed not to steal any more magazines and tried to memorize the recipe as I sat in the chair pumping the blood into the little bag. The phlebotomist asked me what I was doing and I said “memorizing this brownie recipe”. Then she said “Oh, just take the magazine with you.” But I’d already memorized it so here’s the paraphrased version.
Caramel Topped Brownies
4 oz butter (unsalted)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped (optional)
4 oz caramels
2 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional Drizzle – 2 oz bittersweet chocolate melted with about half a teaspoon of butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 or 9 inch square metal pan with parchment paper of foil. If using foil, spray foil with cooking spray. I used an 8 inch pan.
Melt butter and both chocolates in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa in a small bowl. Stir well to mix.
Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl. Add melted chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture, stirring only until it disappears. Stir in nuts if using.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from pan. Set the brownies on a rack to cool.
Meanwhile, combine caramels and cream in a saucepan and heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until caramels are melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour or drizzle decoratively over the top. If you end up pouring, you’ll probably want to drizzle some melted chocolate over the top to make the brownies look better. That’s what I did. Otherwise, you can just drizzle the caramel decoratively.
Also, if you want to cut these neatly, make sure to chill them for a bit.
When ready to cut, lift from pan, trim off the edges and cut into 6 big rectangles. Once you’ve got those rectangles, you may want to cut them in half to make 12
Makes 6 to 12