Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.
This month I've had the happy privilege of participating in The Secret Recipe Club, hosted by Amanda's Cookin'. Each participant is assigned another participant's blog. We secretly make one of his/her recipes and then--surprise--post it on a certain date. If you've got a food blog and you're interested, you should join up.
I got plenty lucky as I was assigned The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honey Bunch for the month of June. Besides being, like, the best name ever for a blog, Shelby Mae (also the best name ever) had plenty of recipes I was eager to try. Of course there was one with my family's name on it: Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies. So I made that one first. And it did not disappoint.
You begin by making the peanut butter caramel, then plop it onto a brownie, then swirl it in and bake.
I realize caramel can be a little frightening. It always makes me a wee bit nervous too. I've burned my share. And crystalized my share. I've cried over caramel and wasted a lot of sugar and almost given up. And then I discovered a full-proof method for making it, compliments of The New Best Recipe. And sure enough it hasn't failed me yet. It is that method I describe below. (In fact, I plan to give it its very own post tomorrow.) So, fear not, caramel lovers. May you never go back to the nasty stuff in a jar at the grocery store again.
Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies
Makes 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 20-25 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Cost: Let's not talk about it, okay: $3.95
(cream: .50, sugar: .05, PB: .45; butter: 1.15, sugar: .50, flour: .15, eggs: .40, cocoa: .30, chocolate bar: 2.00, though if you use the equivalent of dark chocolate chips, it's only about .45)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C water
1/2 C creamy peanut butter (probably not a natural kind as you don't want things separating out--I'm not sure they would, but don't take the chance)
1 Tbsp corn syrup
pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp vanilla
Bring the cream to a simmer. (I just warmed mine.)
Put sugar in a mound in a saucepan. Pour water in pan and cover pan with lid. Turn heat to medium and just let it boil along until the bubbles just start changing to a darker color. Remove lid to pan and reduce heat somewhat. Don't touch it. Don't stir it. Just let it keep boiling until it gets to an amber color. (Note: If your oven is a wee bit un-level like mine is, turn the pot occasionally by quarter turns so that the sugar caramelizes at a fairly even rate). This method takes several minutes.
While the sugar is boiling, you might want to measure out your other ingredients and have them ready as the next step moves kind of fast.
Take amber sugar off the heat. Pour your cream in, whisking as you pour. It'll bubble up a lot. Don't worry, just keep whisking. After the cream is incorporated whisk in peanut butter, corn syrup, sea salt, and the vanilla until all is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool until thickened at room temperature, about 30 minutes. (I may have cheated on mine and not waited quite that long.)
1 C butter, melted
3 C white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 3.5 oz Lindt Dark Chocolate Bar with Sea Salt, broken into pieces (I subbed some dark chocolate discs and threw in a pinch of sea salt, but I wished I'd used the Lindt Bar as I think it would have had a better flavor)
Preheat oven to 350. You can line your9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, tinfoil, or just lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a bowl, stir sugar into melted butter. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. add vanilla.
In separate bowl combine remaining dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate pieces. Fold this into the wet ingredients. Pour into prepared pan.
Drop 8 spoonfulls of peanut butter caramel on top of brownie batter. Drag a knife through the batter and the caramel to swirl. I have the swirling skills of a penguin. I don't know why. It's sort of an issue I have. Mine always comes out kind of just on top instead of swirled interestingly. It tasted good anyway, but wasn't as pretty as Shelby Mae's.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (mine took 37 minutes).
Cool completely before cutting.
Note: If you don't like peanut butter or you're allergic, I'd bet you can use 1/2 C butter and make a regular caramel to swirl in. I'm actually itching to try this myself and plan to do so next time I try brownies.
This and all the sweet recipes I managed to make this week will be posted to Sweets for a Saturday and Something Swanky