Friday, April 29, 2011

Carmel-Pecan Brownies with Whipped Cream Frosting

Basic Caramel Recipe

The caramel will harden quickly upon cooling. You want a medium amber color-so keep an eye on it while it's cooking.
Yields 2/3 Cup

1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup cold water

Fill a cup measure halfway with water and put a pastry brush in it; this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystalization. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, stir the sugar, lemon juice and water. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brusing down the sides of the pan, until the mixture starts to color around the edges, 5-8 minutes. Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and preven the sugar from burning in isolated spots. Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium amber, about 30 seconds more.

Ingredients for the Brownies

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces-softened for the pan
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (could substitute Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks/Chips)
4 Large eggs
1 3/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 3/8 ounces (3/4 cup) unleached all-purpose flour
3/4 ounces (1/4 Cup) natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

Ingredients for the Topping

Basic Caramel (Recipe listed above)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the Garnish

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Make the Brownies

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Put the butter and chocolate in a heavy medium -size saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Gradually whisk in the sugar and then whisk vigorously until well blended. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, banilla and salt. Whisk in the flour and cocoa powder until blended. Stir in the pecans and then scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into an even layer with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 20-22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and if necessary, gently press down any puffed areas with a spatula to make the top level, Let cool for about 5 minutes.

Make the Topping

While the browines are baking make the Basic caramel. Remover the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream-the mixture will bubble furiously. When the bubbling has subsided add the butter and gently whisk until completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Pour the caramel topping over the browines using a spatula to spread it evenly over the entire top. Let the brownies cool on the rack for 45 minutes and then refigerate until the caramel toppping is set, at least 1 hour.

Garnish the Brownies

Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat and sti constantly until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small piping bag fitted with a 1/8 inch plain tip (or pu it in a small zip lock bag seal the bag then snip off a bottom corner to make a small hole.) Drizzle the chocolate over the brownies in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle the chopped pecanse over the top. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Cut the brownies into 36 rectangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (well covered, these brownies will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese Frosting/Topping (Optional)

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (This is my own add in-it's optional)

In a chilled large bowl, mix chream cheese and milk until smooth. Beat in whipping cream and powered sugar with electric mixer on high speed, scrapping bowl occasionally, until soft peasks form. Frost Brownies and referigerate.

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