Today marks one week before my little guy turns 5. That holds a significance that is terribly difficult to ignore. I am going through all sorts of emotions - happy, excited, a bit sad, and a whole lot of desperate-to-stop-time-so-that- he-can-stay-this-way-forever. But I know in reality that he can't stay 4 forever and that 5 will bring new and exciting times. I promise myself to look forward and embrace them. Needless to say, I will be 'trapped in a glass case of emotion' all week long. (Name that movie!)
I am also elbow deep in party planning and preparing for our visiting family who are traveling a long way in order to celebrate with us. There are also menus to plan, decorations to make, and pinatas to mache. I can't wait to share party food and plans with you!
But until that time, I have a recipe to share. A rich and fudge-y brownie recipe. Something to comfort your soul. Last week, with the start of school and this birthday milestone looming, they gave me a sweet spot of peace. I hope they do the same for you.
This is my version of a salted caramel brownie. I have had salted caramel everything on the brain lately. Really, any sweet treat that has salt is fabulous in my book. Something about that salty/sweet combo that just sets my taste buds dancing - complete with spirit fingers. I can't get enough.
The real star of these brownies, however, comes in the form of vanilla salt. I was introduced to this surprisingly versatile ingredient by Michelle at So Wonderful So Marvelous. She made these incredible chocolate covered Oreos that are finished off with a sprinkling of this magic salt. It was love at first bite. Since then, I have been sprinkling this stuff on any sweet treat I can get my hands on. It rocks. Get it? Salt...rocks?
Bad joke. Regardless, these brownies are subtly caramel-y, incredibly fudge-y, and with the addition of the vanilla salt sprinkled on top, explode with an intense chocolate flavor in your mouth that you will never want to stop eating. Trust me. Go now and comfort yourself.
Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from Cooking LightIngredients:¾ cup of all purpose flour¾ cup granulated sugar¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder½ cup packed brown sugar½ teaspoon baking powder¼ teaspoon kosher salt1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips1/3 cup milk6 Tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for pan1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 eggs, lightly beaten¼ cup caramel sauce (I used jarred sundae topping) + 2 Tablespoons for drizzlingvanilla salt to taste (store bought or homemade, see recipe below)Directions:1. Preheat oven to 350°.2. Spoon and level flour into dry measuring cups and level with a butter knife. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk. Combine 1/2 cup chocolate and milk in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high, for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave for an additional 30 seconds until melted. Stir butter and vanilla into chocolate mixture. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Carefully stir in several spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture to the eggs to temper them. This will avoid a big bowl of scrambled chocolate eggs. Mix the tempered egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in ¼ cup of caramel sauce. Add melted chocolate mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate to flour mixture; stir to combine.3. Pour the batter into a buttered and parchment lined 9-inch square metal baking. Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of caramel. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it. While the brownies are still warm, sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of vanilla salt (or to your taste). Allow to cool in the pan on a rack. Cut and serve!To make vanilla salt: Mix 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract with 3 Tablespoons of sea salt. Stir and store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on all sorts of goodies for a surprising twist.