Friday, July 15, 2011

Caramel Latte Brownies

Oooh la latte!  If you like coffee, caramel, and chocolate, well, then these are the brownies for you!  Rich decadent chocolate studded with caramel, with a creamy smooth coffee filling, topped with velvety chocolate ganache.  Be still my heart!
I found the basis for this recipe in Better Homes & Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies.  I used my own brownie recipe (which is adapted from a Cooks Illustrated recipe and is surprisingly similar to the one in the Better Homes book) and added caramel bits.  A word about the caramel: I was very pleasantly surprised to find Kraft Caramel Bits last time I was at the grocery store.  I don't know how many times I've wished they'd make something like this and now, voila, here it is!  The caramel bits performed perfectly.  The possibilities are many - I'll definitely be using them again!
Anyway, this recipe takes a bit of time because you have to let the filling & ganache layers set.  In all, though, it is a pretty easy recipe and doesn't require a lot of time in the kitchen.  So, next time you're in a brownie mood, give 'em a go!

Caramel Latte Brownies
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Brownie Layer -

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp espresso powder (or instant coffee crystals)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Kraft Caramel Bits (optional)

Filling -
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp instant coffee crystals
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp butter, softened

Ganache -
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

1.  For the Brownies: Line a 8" square pan with parchment paper and spray with oil.  Preheat the oven to 350°.

2.  Put the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds, stop, and stir.  Microwave for 15 seconds, stop, and stir.  Repeat until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Set aside.

3.  In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs along with the espresso powder.  Whisk in the sugar and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.

5.  Slowly whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Whisk until completely blended.

6.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, just until incorporated - do not overmix.

7.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Sprinkle the caramel bits evenly over the surface of the brownies (do not press).

8.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few crumbs attached (you may need to test in more than one spot as inadvertently stabbing the caramel will skew the results).

9.  Meanwhile for the Filling: stir the cream and instant coffee together in a small bowl.  Let sit for a minute or two and stir again to dissolve the coffee crystals.

10.  In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar and butter.  Beat until the butter is totally incorporated into the sugar.  Add the cream mixture.  Beat until smooth and creamy.

9.  When the brownies are done, allow them to cool for five minutes.  Then, spread the filling evenly over the top.  Allow the brownies to cool completely.  If the filling is not set, chill for 30 minutes.

10.  For the Ganache: in a small saucepan, combine the chocolate and cream.  Set over low heat.  Stirring often, heat until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

11.  Spread the ganache evenly over the filling layer (gently so as to not disturb the filling).  Chill until the ganache is set.

12.  Cut into squares and serve!  To store: cover and chill.

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