Sunday, September 4, 2011

Salted Caramel Brownies


Salted caramel brownies - They're not lighter and they're not local. That's kind of a lie. It's a recipe from Cooking Light, so some of the fat has been stripped of these decadent bars. They're local because they were made from scratch, in my kitchen.

But let's be honest, shall we?

Even though they don't fit the title of this blog, would you blame me for sharing them? Would you stop reading this blog, angry that they don't quite fit the mold?

I doubt it. If so, I am sorry to offend you with these very lovely brownies.


I started this blog years ago. It had a different name, with a different purpose. I simply wanted to share my recipes and my writing with friends and family. I then used it to log a weight loss battle. Finally, in the end, I fell in love with sourcing local and regional food and this little slice of web heaven was born.

Times, they do change, right?

It's very easy to get caught up in the "food blog hamster wheel". You churn out posts, you tweet, you Facebook, you suddenly worry about how many people are coming to your site. You ponder if the food blogging community at-large likes you, are you part of the club? You start thinking about quantity, and not quality.

You forget it's about having a voice, starting a conversation, sharing something you love. You forget it's about community.

It's the community that surrounded fellow blogger, Jennie Perillo, after her husband suddenly passed away. It's a community that came together to help someone, that many have never met, but someone whose story and experience touched at our very hearts. More about the work to help out Jennie's family in just a moment.

If you've gotten this far, great job, I appreciate it. The point of this little speech from my soapbox is that I've been fairly silent the last couple of weeks. I've had a schedule change at work, an increase of responsibilities, and I've been trying to balance that with my family life. In short, I haven't had a lot of time to blog. In the beginning, I felt guilty I wasn't feeding the beast. What would people think?

Then, it changed. I cared less about the guilt, and realize how much I miss the community, how much I miss sharing with those who read this blog (and I thank every single one of you). I missed it being my outlet from my stressful day job.

The break from the blog reminded me why I love it so much. I think it's an excellent lesson for bloggers to learn. Sometimes you have to let go, let the guilt subside, remind yourself why you do this. I can say this because this isn't my full time job, I understand it's much different for those who use this as a way to make a living.

For the rest of us, however, sometimes I truly believe we could all use the permission to cut ourselves a little slack. Even if you don't blog, cut yourself some slack. So what if you missed a playgroup/email/sewing class. So if you need someone to say it, I will. Give yourself a break. You might find yourself much better when you return.


Salted Caramel Brownies
Source: Cooking Light
Yield: 16 small brownies, 12 larger ones (CL says the yield is 20, but frankly, that's too small of a brownie for me.)

I actually doubled this recipe for a 9x13 baking pan and it worked out perfectly. They were a little thicker, but honestly, I like it better that way. Be careful, these things are addicting.

Ingredients:

Brownies:
  • 3.38 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon backing powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cooking spray
Topping:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons evaporated fat-free milk, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Start preparing your brownies. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until well mixed.
  3. Combine your 6 tablespoons of melted butter, eggs, and the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Pour batter into a 9x9 square metal baking pan lightly coated in cooking spray.
  6. Bake brownies for 19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out from the center cleanly.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  8. Once brownies are cooled, begin making your topping. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the evaporated milk. Cook the mixture for at least two minutes.
  9. Take the mixture off the heat, add you vanilla, powdered sugar, and stir with a whisk until everything comes together and becomes smooth. 
  10. You're now going to pour the mixture over the brownies, and then use an offset spatula or just a regular one to make sure the brownies are well covered.
  11. Allow to set for 20 minutes to set. (I found putting it in the fridge really helped with this step.
  12. Finally, take a microwave-safe bowl, combine your chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the evaporated milk. Microwave for 45 seconds or until melted... make sure you stir it halfway through the cooking time. 
  13. Drizzle over the caramel topping on the brownies, sprinkle with your 1/8th of a teaspoon of sea salt.
  14. Allow the chocolate to set, then cut into squares.
How to help Jennie Perillo's Family:

If you read a good amount of food blogs, you've seen the community reaching out to support Jennie, who lost her husband suddenly several weeks ago. Some people are doing auctions with proceeds going towards the family to help with things like health insurance and day-to-day expenses. There is a very simple way you can help out, by just making a donation. Click on the image below, and it will take you to Bloggers Without Borders. It's an amazing organization that brings food bloggers together to help those who need it. Jennie needs it right now, and I'm only too happy to pass along the link. So please, if you can spare just a few dollars, every single one counts. Thank you!

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32 comments:

Melissa@EyesBigger said...

I will never. ever. be mad at you for putting brownie recipes up. Or anything with salted caramel in it.  Ever.  I promise :)
Totally get what you're saying about the blog - I felt the same way last month and slowed down while I caught up with life and then just posted stuff I felt like writing about, food or no food (but usually food!).  And honestly, I actually enjoy blogs that only post once a week - I don't feel so pressed to keep up every single day with everyone.  I'll take one quality post every week or two weeks over filler posts every other day. (salted caramel brownies are definitely a quality post!)

Kathy said...

Those look amazing Kimmy.  I agree with you on the letting yourself take abreak, even if the thing you are taking a break from is a choice sometimes you need it.  I haven't really been cooking recently and am finally excited to get back in the kitchen and try new recipes and explore untasted spaces.  love this.  So much.

newlywed said...

Yum -- these look amazing!  Thanks for sharing!  

Medeja said...

What great sinful brownies.. Yummy!

Lauren at Keep It Sweet said...

I agree, this community is truly amazing!  These brownies look wonderful, nice to have a lighter version for a change:-)

Regan @The Professional Palate said...

Lovely post. I love blogs that are true to the blogger... for the days when brownies feel right, brownies it is. For the days when there's not time to blog, silence. That's what friendship and community is all about. Feeding that is way better than feeding the beast ;-)

Sunchowder said...

Good for you!  Such a nice healing post :)

The Procrastobaker said...

These look insanely good, the flavour combo is just so comforting and naughty in the best kinda way :) 

something_good said...

Congrats on Top 9 on foodbuzz! 

Laura said...

Wow! These look like the most gooey, scrumptious and delicious brownies around! I'll have to give them a try soon - especially since they're from Cooking Light... I also really appreciated the kind words you offered in support of Jennie. Sometimes the blogging game can bog you down and even make you feel a bit alienated from others, but then you witness the whole community rally around one another in times of need and you realize what it's ultimately all about - and that you can make some pretty good friends too. Thanks for sharing!

Mercedes said...

Oh wow, these look ooey, gooey delicious!  I have been on a salted caramel kick lately too!

Sandi said...

Caramel & chocolate, love it!
Welcome back to the blogging community.. I only recently started & it's the community that I'm really loving. I'm just in awe in the creativity out here!

Liz said...

Great brownies!  And great message.  I need to hop off the hamster wheel, too, from time to time.  So nice to find your blog via the Top 9...congrats!!!  Totally deserved with this mouthwatering recipe~

Crystal Welsh said...

Great blog!  Besides the LUSCIOUS recipe, I love the message.  I'm a new blogger and I can see how easy it is to get caught up in the "hamster wheel" as you call it.  I started blogging because I love sharing new food with people and I don't ever want it to become a chore.  I've already met such wonderful people in the blogging community and really appreciate the words of wisdom.  THANK YOU!

Esther said...

I love this post. Not just because of the salted caramel brownies that I'm going to need in my belly ASAP, but because of your honesty and insight into food blogging. I agree that it can easily become all about making sure you do everything right, and covering all your bases, rather than doing it because you truly love it. Great reminder, thank you!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

((hugs)) Sometimes you just need to really step back and think about what you want to write about, instead of just writing to write. :-)

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

honestly, sometimes I really feel like you need to step away for a bit... and not feel bad about it!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

It's been amazing to find such like-minded, but completely different people to follow and become friends with!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

Thank you! I just want to be able to share my voice, and whatever comes out of my kitchen!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

healing is what I was going for... sometimes I feel like I need to tell myself it's ok!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

How this community has rallied around Jennie has been absolutely unbelievable. It's such a reminder that this is all about so much more than food!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

There isn't anything salted caramel I haven't liked as of late!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

There is such unbelievable talent out there! Welcome, and keep at it!

Ana Helena Campbell said...

What a great post! Love your writing and how you expressed yourself. Your recipe is delicious too, I saw it this afternoon on Foodbuzz top 9. Congratulations!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

:-) Thanks! I love finding new blogs to read through all these comments... the hamster wheel can be seriously addicting, but so refreshing once you get yourself off!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

I'm so glad you commented! Blogging can be so very rewarding... but it's so easy to get lost in it all. Stay true to what you want to say!

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local said...

Thank you! I always feel that it shows if you're not truly loving what you're writing about, or if you're doing it for the wrong reasons!

Renee {Eat.Live.Blog} said...

I couldn't agree more :)

Jacob said...

These look gooey and great. I might just make the topping and eat it, it looks so good.

Isabelle Boucher said...

I totally know where you're coming from... I get caught on that hamster wheel sometimes, and I have to remind myself that the whole point of blogging is to have FUN... not to drive myself into a nervous breakdown.  I already have one full-time job, after all. :) 
PS - I wholeheartedly approve of anything that involves brownies. Or salted caramel. And especially anything that involves both. Nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, after all!

JulieD said...

I feel everything you wrote in this post. Thank you! These salted caramel brownies look amazing. I love this beautiful community we are a part of...wouldn't trade it for anything.

Desi said...

I love salted caramel so so so much. A little too much. Great recipe! So glad I found your blog... I am your newest follower :)