The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, June 6th 2020 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
Gooey Caramel Chocolate Ganache Brownies
Everyone needs a little decadence in their lives, especially in times like these. Friends and family members that I have been talking to are gravitating towards comfort foods more and more. In challenging and unsettling times, I think it is natural that we revert back to our old childhood favorites and comfort foods to help calm and settle our nerves. What have I been finding comforting lately? I am not ashamed to admit that I have been baking and eating chocolate chip cookies by the dozens. My favorite way to is under-bake them slightly so that the insides are still almost like dough. I stand in the kitchen, with a fork and eat them warm directly from the baking sheet. I have done this throughout this current crisis and have every intention of continuing well throughout. When I started this, eating cookies directly from the baking sheet nighttime ritual, it made me feel somewhat better; comforted. But the more I did it, the more I started feeling guilty. That is, until I talked to a friend of mine. She told me that taking a break from routine and doing things to make yourself feel better is not only a must in times like this, but something everyone should be doing to protect their mental health. In times like this, living in the midst of a Global Pandemic, it is so important to not only take care of your physical health, but your mental health as well; even if that means putting aside physical health for a short bit and overindulging in some cookies. Ha! And it does not have to be food either. What makes you feel better? Online shopping? Reading? Listening to music? Painting? Running? Whatever it is, set some time aside each day to do something that makes you happy.
One of the things that makes me happy is baking, especially in treats that can sometimes be considered “overindulgent”. These caramel brownies are the perfect example of that! The base is a delicious chocolate brownie, the inside is a gooey caramel filling and the topping is a thick candy like chocolate. Amazing! These are not really something you should bake and eat all the time, but I really believe in the saying – everything in moderation, including moderation! This recipe makes a lot of brownies and may be the perfect recipe to share with your friends, family and neighbors! Pack some up and leave them on their porch. You never know, you may brighten someone’s day just by leaving some of these delicious brownies! I know that when I make these, they are an instant mood-lifter and they seem to make everyone around me happy too. Try them and as always, let me know what you think by visiting my website.
These need to be made ahead and chilled in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving so keep that in mind before attempting this recipe. Leftovers should be kept chilled, then brought to room temperature before enjoying.
For the brownies…
1 box brownie mix (9×13-inch pan size)
Ingredients according to the box
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
For the caramel…
1 bag caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the ganache…
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.
Make and bake the brownies according to packaged directions, stirring in the instant coffee granules with the batter before baking. Remove the baked brownies and allow to cool.
To make the caramel, combine the unwrapped caramels with the heavy cream and pure vanilla extract in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture is melted and combined.
Pour the melted caramel over the brownies and spread evenly. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
To make the ganache, pour the heavy cream in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes until almost bubbly and hot. Remove and add in the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 60 seconds. Stir until smooth and combined.
Carefully pour the ganache over the caramel layer, spreading evenly along the way.
Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, remove the foil, lift the brownies by the aluminum foil lining and cut into desired size pieces. The caramel will remain soft and gooey. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Ask and Answer: I have been getting a lot of questions about easy ways to stay hydrated and thought it would be good to share here with all of you because of the upcoming summer months. The easiest, and most delicious way, of staying hydrated is to add fresh fruits into your water. Add sliced lemons or oranges, even mint and basil. I love the lemon and lime combination but experiment with blueberries or even raspberries. Do this through a pitcher of water, or even your bottled waters. You could also fill your ice cube trays halfway with water, then add your diced fresh fruits into each chamber to create fresh fruit water ice cubes!