Baked, Occasionally – Kitchen Sink Dutch Baby

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2016 is a new year and a new collaboration with Shannon over at A Periodic Table. Last year, we spun our way through the Jeni’s books and this year we have something new in store. We will be baking our way through the Baked Occasions book month by month in our new series Baked, Occasionally. Each month we will select one recipe (the same recipe) from the book and bake it together word-for-word from the book. Then, we’ll compare our results and, if we see room for improvement, we’ll tweak the recipe and make it again until it’s just right!

This month’s recipe was the Kitchen Sink Dutch Baby.

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good day sunshine bars

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Baked Bakery’s “Good Morning Sunshine” bars have been on my ‘to do’ list for practically forever, and who knows why because they’re so fricking easy to make that I basically feel like the laziest person ever for not making them. I finally got around to make them, but as i was reading through the recipe I just wanted there to be more.

The standard recipe is pretty solid on its own, it’s got cereal, peanut butter, sugar (duh), and a drizzle of chocolate on top, but it also had chopped peanuts which for some reason I am generally not a fan of in my snacks. I like peanuts, I eat them quite frequently, but crunchy peanut butter? No thank you. Nuts in my cookies? Get out of here.  Nuts in a quick bread? Pass. I know, I’m a crazy person.

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sweet n salty

sweet n salty brownie

It always feels good to unwind after a stressful day/week/month with some good, old-fashioned kitchen therapy. Spending time in the kitchen becomes such a zen experience for me. Something about baking in particular is very therapeutic. It even gives you extra time to wind down in the middle of the process. While things are baking you can clean the dishes you used, read a magazine, watch a show, dust the book shelves, have a cocktail… ya know, relax.

Well, following a crazy week/month at work, helping my mom move this weekend, the stress of remodeling, oh and our garage door broke on Friday, I needed some kitchen therapy. So today, after I finished all the laundry, gymed, and straightened up a bit- BF headed out to fix our garage door (poor guy can’t get a break) and I headed into the kitchen to find my sanity.

This recipe can be found in Baked Explorations (the second book released by Baked Bakery in NYC- still unclear how BFF and I missed it when we went… we really have to get back there). Since I have been too poor/cheap to purchase this particular book, I’ve been stuck just leafing through the recipes in stores and staring longingly at it through store windows. :-( That is, until I saw Brown Eyed Baker‘s post for “Sweet & Salty Brownies”. Finally, my first glimpse into the wonderful world of Baked Explorations.

The Baked Brownie alone is intense, rich, and decadent. This version basically takes the Baked Brownie – which is already a 10 on intensity, and turns it up to 11. I was expecting this to be: layer of brownie > layer of caramel > layer of brownie. Nope. Somehow this magical thing happens where the caramel becomes one with the batter, forming this crazy sweet-salty-caramel-brownie hybrid dessert that has just enough brownie “crust” to make it a solid piece. You can actually tell which brownies have more of the caramel in them, because they look “wetter” than the ones that have less. (So you know which ones to go for ;-))

My attempts at describing the brownie really do it no justice, you will just have to try one for yourself. Just trust me when I say that the salty caramel accents the chocolate brownie perfectly… and to make sure you have a tall glass of milk nearby when you eat one.

 

Sweet & Salty Brownies – Recipe from Baked Explorations

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Caramel Filling:
1 C sugar
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
½ C heavy cream
1 tsp fleur de sel
¼ C sour cream

Brownie Batter:
1¼ C AP flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valhrona)
11 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (my least favorite part of brownie-making)
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1½ C sugar
½ C brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsps vanilla extract

Topping:
1½ tsps fleur de sel
1 tsp coarse sugar

For the Caramel:

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with ¼ cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat (I started on medium, then turned it up to medium-high when I was ready to give it my full attention) until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, or until the mixture is dark amber in color, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat, and carefully add the cream (it will spit) and the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

it'll end up like this

it’ll end up like this – creamy and dreamy

Make the Brownie Batter:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9×13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

3. Melt chocolate and butter together in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Once melted to a smooth consistency, turn off the heat, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture will look something like:

4. Add 3 of the eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overmix!

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate & gently fold into the wet ingredients.

Assembling the Brownies:

1. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about ¾ cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, making sure the caramel doesn’t come in contact with the edges of the pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer, leaving about a ½-inch border around the edges. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.* (see tips)

2. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

3. Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and coarse sugar.

4. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

*Tips

*Every time I make Baked brownies I’m afraid I under-baked them. Despite my toothpicks coming out clean, even over-baking a batch, they are always ooey-gooey inside to the point that I’m not convinced they’re fully cooked. Rest assured that they are. (or that I’m certifiably crazy)

*When you’re doing the top brownie layer, I suggest spooning the batter from the outside in. I am bad at following directions and just started dumping the batter in which caused the caramel to push through its “1/2-inch border”… oops!

*Again, be careful with the 2nd brownie layer, as the leaked caramel glued some of my brownies to the pan, and made a terrible, terrible mess… (see below)

sticky caramel mess

sticky caramel mess

*A lot of people are afraid of cleaning up after caramel, it’s really not that bad. Remember- caramel is made out of sugar, which dissolves in water. All you need is hot water, let it sit, and voila- you’re done!

*It was easier to cut the brownies after chilling them in the fridge for an hour

*The brownies can be stored, tight wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

 

If you like this recipe, you’ll love these:

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies

choco pb krispies

I promise not to make every single dessert in here peanut butter and chocolate. No matter how much I love the sweet-salty combination…. I really do know how to make other things, honest.  But when I saw this recipe in my “Baked” cookbook, I couldn’t resist. I mean, just wait til you see how easy they are!!!

These (like most of the desserts I make) are “rich”. Again, I’m not the type of person who can find something to be “too rich”, “too sweet”, or “too” anything that will impede me from eating it… the only thing that is going to stop me from eating something is if it is “too repulsive”… which these aren’t. I promise.

I was surprised at how little “krispy” there was in the bottom layer. If I were to make these again, I may double the “krispy” layer… which would serve me well in two ways, since it’s near impossible to get my candy thermometer to accurately measure ¼ cup of water, even in my tiniest pan.

BAKED’s Krispies

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For the krispies

1 3/4 c crisped rice cereal (I used the cheap stuff)
1/4 c sugar
3 Tbs light corn syrup
3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

For the peanut butter layer
5 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chips, and they did just fine)
1 cup creamy peanut butter, though I don’t think crunchy would ruin it.

For the chocolate layer
3 oz dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped (I used leftover mini semi-sweet chips from my peanut butter pie)
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
4 Tbs unsalted butter

Krispy Layer:

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. (I put a parchment square in the bottom and it served very useful)

Put the cereal in a bowl and set aside. The recipe calls for a “large” bowl, but it’s really less than 2 cups of cereal… a medium-size bowl will do just fine.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup without letting any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan. Using wooden (or silicone) spoon, stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil cooking until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (235 F)

Remove from heat, stir in butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Quickly stir until the cereal is coated and then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands (or I used the silicone spatula I used for stirring), press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Let the crust cool.

*I was surprised at how easy this part was, much easier than those sticky, marshmallowy krispie treats

melty melty

PB Layer: In a nonreactive bowl (I used glass), stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring until smooth. Once smooth, remove from heat & pour the mixture over the cooled crust. (CAREFUL: THE BOWL WILL BE HOT—you may let it cool just a bit if you like). You can spread it with a spatula or I just tilted the pan until everything was evenly covered. Put the pan in the fridge to cool.

pourin time

 

 

Chocolate Layer: In a nonreactive bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.

Do the same as before, stirring with a rubber spatula over simmering water until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove once smooth and cool slightly so you don’t burn yourself while pouring. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread (or tilt) into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or however long it takes you to go out for Thai and come back home… ya know, til the chocolate hardens.

Cut into squares and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days (according to the book). Since there’s nothing particularly prone to spoiling I don’t see why they wouldn’t last longer… I have no experience, though, since nothing this yummy lasts that long in my fridge.

[Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking]