Monday, July 16, 2012

PW: Knock You Naked Brownies

I am realizing now as I type this that I never told you guys all about our July recipes!

Is it okay if I am lazy and don't do all that right now?  How about if I just tell you that FIRST OF ALL, this was our month to pick again, and then, (B) we picked TWO things?!*

One of those things was ...


I can't attest to the knocking of people naked, but I can see how these brownies paired with some alcohol might well have that effect.

Holy moly, these are scrum-diddly-icious!

See for yourself:

Enough.  Let me tell you all about how this came together.

Pioneer Woman: Knock You Naked Brownies

Verdict: Very yummy, and very rich.  You can get a lot of bang for your buck with these.
Cook it again: Absolutely.
Cost Factor:  Caramels and cake mix and evaporated milk -- $5 or $6 total?

Years ago, I made a caramel brownie recipe that I recall being very good but very tedious -- and not just for opening the caramels, but also for some of the steps.  Although the brownies were delicious, I never did make them again.  I was excited to try the PW recipe not just because we picked it, but because it's a layered brownie and I've never made those before.  I also, despite this crazy heatwave, have been craving something to bake and this satisfied that.

These are very, very easy to make, and require just a few ingredients.  A box of German chocolate cake mix, a can of evaporated milk, a bag of caramels, and some butter and chocolate chips.  We typically have all but the caramels and cake mix on hand. Oh, and pecans, but those are skippable. 

Note-- the recipe calls for 60 caramels.  The Kraft big bag comes with 50.  We said, "good enough," and even ate a few and it was still perfectly fine.

You take the cake mix and melt the butter and mix them together.

While you're doing that, you have caramel-peeler helpers.  Oh, how much less tedious this recipe is when you have eager little chefs!

She doesn't look happy, but it was about having her picture taken, not about helping.

Your little helpers can also take a meat pounder to a bag of pecans.  Chopped, schmopped.  I prefer smashed.  So did they.

The batter is very thick -- too thick for little hands to help mix, really.  (I'd actually say it's just shy of being a dough.)  You divide it in two and pat half of it down in the brownie pan, and then bake that for long enough for it to set -- about ten minutes.

While it's in the oven, your little helpers have nothing to do, and you, in the meantime, get to stand at the stove and melt the caramels with the evaporated milk.  I found this surprisingly soothing.  I was all alone, standing at the stove, just stirring, and I really think I could have fallen asleep doing it!

I own two double boilers and still managed to forget to use one.  Yesterday was a bad brain day.  I sewed not one, not two, but three separate things backwards, (that's a lot of seam-ripping tedium), forgot my double boilers, made waffles for breakfast and left out an entire ingredient, and generally messed up anything I could mess up.  Oh well.  Thankfully, I didn't burn the caramels.
 Also, you need to take what remains of the batter and press it flat into a shape slightly smaller than your brownie pan.  I did this on waxed paper on the counter and then washed my hands with Thomas soap.  It played a song for me -- the Thomas theme song -- when I pumped it.  This step is not necessary, but it is a nice little bonus.

Then, when the brownies are set and the caramels are all melted, you pour the caramel mixture over the brownie layer, top that with chocolate chips, and then carefully rest the remaining brownie mix -- the part you've formed into a square on a sheet of waxed paper -- on top, and bake the whole concoction.   This would have been a place for the helpers to jump back in, but they were upstairs playing and didn't care to come back down.

laying that second layer back down is actually a little tricky.  Mick and I did it together and kind-of rolled the batter/dough thing into the pan, and it worked okay -- but we definitely almost dropped it. 
 Here's the hard part.  Your house will smell AMAZING.  But you can't eat these yet.

First, they have to cool to room temperature.

Then, they have to chill in the fridge for a few hours, enough to cool the gooey insides enough to actually be able to cut them.  We chilled ours overnight and might have eaten brownies for breakfast.

In fact, they are so good, I'm posting the final product here again for your admiration.

They really are delicious, and absolutely easy enough to do again and again.  I cut these straight out of the fridge this morning -- it was a bit difficult to get that first row cut and out of the pan, but I fought the battle -- and they were still solid enough to cut into tiny squares.  I said earlier you can get a lot of bang for your buck because you could literally cut these into 1/2 inch bite-size pieces and serve them with toothpicks on a cute tray, and they are so rich and sinful that no one would feel cheated.  In fact, that may be my next "bring a dessert" thing next time we have a party!

 *"First of all, and then B..." is and old joke around here, and I'm including it in today's post to make a few folks smile. 

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