Easy Brownies from Scratch for busy Moms

I’m not only a chocolate fanatic but crazy for cookies and brownies.  A couple months ago at the Natural Products Expo in Boston, it was all I could do to control myself from eating all of the samples in Vermont Cookie Love booth next to us. And when on the road, I always am on the search for the ultimate cookie.  Some favorites include the Chocolate Truffle Cookies at Pasta & Company in Seattle, the Molasses Ginger Cookies at Foster’s Market in Durham, NC or at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI.

Admittedly, I’m a snob when it comes to cookies and brownies.  I can’t understand why anyone would ever use a mix when it’s so easy to bake from scratch with quality natural ingredients.  I always use King Arthur Flour and swear by their no-fail recipes.   Cabot Vermont butter also is a must for good results.  No substituting margarine or shortening.  And when baking from scratch, you can take some liberties and make the recipes your own.

For weeks, I’ve been thinking about taking my favorite brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour’s Cookie Companion Cookbook (note:  this recipe is different from the one on their website.  Pick up the cookbook – you won’t regret it!) and enhancing it with our Sea Salt Caramels.  

For starters, I wasn’t sure how many caramels I’d need. 

I had 10 on hand and found that my 18 month old son kept reaching his hands into the pile of caramels and eating them – so only ended up with 8 for the recipe.   

After I finally figured out what he was doing and moved them out of arm’s reach, he then discovered the 54% dark chocolate pistoles.   I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that I gave birth to a dark chocolate lover although I can’t get him to eat any of the brownies after we baked them.

Once I got him occupied in mixing, the baking got underway.

I quartered the caramels and dropped them evenly across my 9” x 9” pan.  

In hindsight, I wished I had only cut them in halves as they melted during baking and weren’t as pronounced as I’d hoped.  Guess this is good reason to make another batch next weekend!   Or maybe I’ll experiment with our new Peppermint Cups.  I LOVE mint and chocolate!

Hope you give the recipe a try – experiment with other add-in and let me know how it goes!

Fudgy Brownies
Yields 2 dozen 2 inch brownies
Bake at 325 degrees.
Baking time:  29 to 32 minutes
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (preferably LCC!)
1 teaspoon salt (I use about 1/2 teaspoon in my non-caramel brownies and didn’t use any in these sea salt caramel brownies)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur!)
1 cup dark chocolate chips from LCC (54% cocoa)
(used about 1/2 cup chips and 8 sea salt caramels (quartered) for this batch)

Preheat the oven to 325.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan (for this batch, I used a 9×9 pan – cooked about 32 minutes, yielded a thicker brownie).

In a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine.   Return the mixture to the heat briefly, just until it’s hot but not bubbling; it will become shiny looking as you stir it.

 Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.  Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth, then add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. 

Spoon about half of  the batter into the prepared pan.   

Drop the quartered Sea Salt Caramels evenly across the batter and cover with the remaining batter.

Bake the brownies for 29-32 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (note that with the caramels, it will tough to judge this as they remained moist).    Remove the brownies from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting.