Saturday, March 12, 2011

Brownies and Social Networking

You'd never know it from these food posts, but I'm on a diet. But I still love to bake, and I can indulge now and then, but it's important to get it out of the house so I don't, say, eat a dozen cupcakes for breakfast. A few weeks ago the Times ran a recipe for Sea Salt and Olive Oil Brownies, which sounded amazing, and a couple of weeks later a friend was having a party so I decided to make them. I happened to mention this to another friend who was going to the same party, and she said, "Don't do it! We made them last week and they were terrible!" Close call!

But I was still really into the idea of them so I went googling and found these Salted Fudge Brownies.

While the brownies were in the oven I made myself some lunch and bacon was involved. And I tweeted something about how the apartment smelled like both brownies and bacon and it was amazing. This is, frankly, exactly the sort of stupid tweet that people use to make fun of Twitter. No one cares. Except someone did, and she made it awesome. A woman I've become friendly with on Twitter, but have never met and know very little about, replied to me saying that if I liked that, I should try this recipe for Bacon Salted Caramel Brownies. And I did. Almost immediately.

Both brownies were a hit at the party. But for me, the bacon ones were a little too gooey, and there was a bit too much caramel. The salted fudge ones were denser, more fudge-like, and more to my brownie liking.

Fortunately, I had another party to go to the following weekend, so I combined the recipes and came up with this:

Salted Caramel Bacon Brownies
(adapted from Kate Krader, David Lebovitz and Savour Fare)

For the Bacon Caramel:
2 slices bacon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
6 tbs salted butter (unsalted will work too)

For the Brownies:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

In a small skillet or saucepan, fry two slices of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside on paper towels, reserving bacon grease in the pan. Add cream to hot pan and let cool. When bacon is cool, crumble or chop finely.

In a larger pan, heat the sugar over high heat until the mixture is liquid and a deep amber color. Add the butter and the cooled bacon cream all at once, and stir until the butter is melted. Add the chopped bacon and let the mixture cool thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9"x13" baking pan (the original recipe called for metal, but I used glass with no ill effects).

In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Whisking them in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, add the cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Then drop about half of the bacon caramel, in evenly spaced dollops, over the brownie batter in the pan. Spread the remaining brownie batter over the top, then repeat spooning the caramel. Swirl with a butter knife.

Bake the brownies in the center of the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter. (The caramel will be bubbling, so be careful! And don't let it confuse you on your tester.)

Let the brownies cool at room temperature in the pan on a rack until the caramel is cooled but still sticky (about 30 minutes). Sprinkle the Maldon sea salt over the top of the brownies. Let cool for another 30 minutes or so. Cut as you like (they're pretty rich, so I recommend smaller pieces) and remove from pan. Enjoy!

Both times I've made these I've completely forgotten to take a picture, so enraptured was I by the process, and new phrases like "bacon cream." I snapped a quick shot with my phone at the end of last week's party, with three brownies left, but it's not even worth posting. Just make them yourself and see!

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