Monthly Archives: June 2014

Salted Caramel Brownies

“I will encounter darkness as a bride,
And hug it in mine arms”

Measure for Measure, Act III, scene 1, line 83.

I chose this quote because though it is about death, this is how I feel about dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate, which will most likely become apparent the more I post. Dark chocolate can be bitter, it can be fruity, it can be earthy. I love the complexity of dark chocolate and its ability blend other flavors. My favorite kind of dark chocolate is anything that tastes vaguely fruity. This recipe is not fruity, though it is luscious, dark, and delicious.

These brownies were the result of yet another round of stress baking. I was (again) in the midst of the semester this past spring, buried under piles of grading and reading and what do I decide to do instead? Bake. I usually don’t have an idea in mind when I begin these adventures, just a sort of vague idea or craving. This time I wanted chocolate. I had had this bar of bittersweet Scharfen Berger chocolate for a while, just begging to be used. I knew I wanted to use it in a recipe that would allow the chocolate to shine, so began browsing Pinterest (where I get most of my ideas) for chocolate recipes.


Once these caramel brownies popped up I was sold. There’s something so wonderful about gooey, melty, chocolately brownies that just so happen to have a beautiful layer of caramel in them.


I did cheat with these and used store-bought caramels—though I imagine that these would be even more amazing with homemade caramels. However, if you are like me and tend to have spur of the moment baking desires, that may not be feasible (you may not have the patience either!). Store-bought caramels (I used the Kraft caramels that come in little wrapped squares in a bag) tasted just fine in these brownies and melted beautifully like they were supposed to.


Salted Caramel Brownies

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the brownies:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used the Scharfen Berger, which I can easily find in my King Soopers and Safeway grocery stores, if you cannot find it, just use whatever bittersweet chocolate you like the best)

1 ½ cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (if you are at a higher altitude like I am, use a high-altitude flour. I usually just have rounded cups of flour instead of level. The extra flour helps at higher altitudes)

½ tsp. salt

For the caramel filling:

14 oz. caramel candies (Like I said, I use Kraft—you have to unwrap them, which is kind of annoying, but at least they are all ready made!)

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. salt (I used regular salt because it was what I had on hand, but Kosher salt or coarse sea salt would have a better flavor)

1)   Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and grease the foil well with butter or cooking spray.

2)   Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Or, you can do what I did and microwave the butter and chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted.

3)   Remove the bowl from the heat.  Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until incorporated.

4)   Stir in the flour and salt just until combined.

5)   Spread about half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature, and let cool for 20 minutes.

6)   To make the caramel filling, combine the caramel candies and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. You can also melt the caramel candies in the microwave in 30-second intervals. The caramel is easy to burn this way so be watchful! Once the caramel is melted, heat the cream until it is warm and then add to the melted caramel.

7)   Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer.  Pour the remaining brownie batter over the caramel layer, taking care to pour and spread it evenly otherwise it will be difficult to spread evenly over the caramel layer.

8)   Bake for 20 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving.  (To speed cooling, chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.)

9)   Lift the brownies from the pan using the edges of the foil.  Remove the foil and cut the brownies into individual squares.  Store in an airtight container.




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S’mores Cookies (for the soul)

“I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends.”
Richard II 2.3.46-7


Well, it’s been almost a year since my last post and I don’t exactly have a great explanation for that. I have been in grad school this past year, which did end up taking more of my time than I ever thought it could. I have learned so much over the past few months, and maybe some of that will makes its way into these blog posts here, but for now this is mostly about baking.


While I haven’t been blogging about my baking, I have been baking! Not as much as I used to, and definitely not as much as I would have liked, but I did bake. I also took pictures with the intention of updating this blog much sooner, but you know what they say about good intentions. Anyway, since it is (again) summer, I will try to post some of the recipes I made during the school year and will try to capture my feelings about each recipe and the surrounding circumstances and the experiences as much as I can.

These cookies were made to be comforting. I have a tendency to bake when I get stressed. Anyone who knows me mostly has heard about and enjoyed the results from my adventures in “stress-baking.” In October last year, when the leaves were turning beautiful shades of golden yellow, fiery orange, and deep crimson, I was in the midst of trying to stay above my workload (teaching, grading, writing papers, researching, and reading—always reading) and missing my friends from undergrad so much it hurt to breathe in the dry, mountain air for once. Autumn in Oregon, while rainy, was incredibly beautiful. While Colorado’s trees turn mostly yellow and orange, with a few reds here and there, Oregon’s trees (especially the ones on my campus) were the most beautiful crimson, scarlet, and burgundy I have ever seen; the maple trees were always my favorite.

When the leaves that have fallen lay on the sidewalk and it rains (as it always does in Oregon in the Fall), the color and shape of the leaf is painted on the sidewalk. I found myself missing these imprints as I was walking to and from campus this past year, and missing the person I used to talk to them about. My best friend from college, my Brainmate, is a poet (among many other wonderful things) and I am sure she could put this better than I ever could. It is her I miss the most from Oregon and it was her that I was thinking of that afternoon as I made these cookies. I am not sure why, I don’t think she is particularly interested in s’mores themed baked goods, nor would she have been able to eat them because they have flour in them, but I’ve never been all that logical anyway. All that aside, I needed some comfort and I needed to stress bake, so I made these.


These are fun to make (seriously, what’s more fun than making a S’mores cookie?) and delicious. I can tell you that I ate a fair amount of the raw cookie dough while waiting for each batch to bake. I started out just trying the dough—you know, for quality assurance purposes—and couldn’t stop after just one bite. The graham crackers really do add a wonderful flavor to both the dough and the finished cookies. I like to eat the right out of the oven with an icy cold glass of milk, but they taste pretty good the next day, too. I would suggest heating them up in the microwave for about 8-10 seconds or so as these cookies are best when the marshmallow is gooey and the chocolate chips are melted.


Gooey S’mores Cookies

Recipe adapted from Kevin & Amanda

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 full graham cracker sheets)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup Jet Puffed Mallow Bits


1)   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

2)   Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

3)   Meanwhile, use a food processor or blender to crush 7 graham cracker sheets into 3/4 cup fine crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt.

4)   Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Add the chocolate and marshmallows and stir to combine.

5)   Place 1.5 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.

6)   Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen cookies (or more depending on how big or small you make your scoops of dough—I made 3 dozen cookies in this batch) 


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