Name That Brownie
Posted on 06/30/2012 by sleepwalker41
Suppose you've been asked to bring brownies to your nephew's high school graduation open house. And suppose that nephew really likes peanut butter balls (or 'Buckeyes') and bacon, among many other things. And you are all too willing to embrace the current trend of combining bacon with sweets. And suppose you'd already been nursing a craving for a long-ago remembered brownie with sandwich-like fillings of caramel and peanut butter, and were looking for any excuse to make them a reality.
You'd make Chocolate Salted Caramel Peanut Bacon Brittle Brownies. Or 'Pig Candy' Brownies. Or Peter's Graduation Brownies. I'm really not sure what their name should be.
These still aren't quite what I envisioned (believe me, I plan to work on a future version at some point. Yep, just as soon as the calories are burned off from these, which will probably take several weeks). But they were still delicious: towering blocks of salted caramel peanutty gooey crunchy chocolate devilry. In fact, a coworker says it's official: she declared my middle name to be Satan after eating one of these, and groused about having to go to an extra church service every time I bake something. Another coworker dubbed them 'Everything A Girl Could Want'. Apparently no one was afraid of bacon in their brownies, since they steadily vanished at the graduation party, despite being clearly labeled. So... name them what you will.
I wanted the caramel and peanut fillings to be sandwiched between brownie layers, but couldn't figure out a way to get neat, tidy layers of them in the middle of unbaked brownie batter, despite much online searching. Parbake the bottom layer? I thought about it, and decided it might be too crusty and dry. Do something with wrapped candy caramels? Nahhh, I really don't like the industrial taste of those, and that seems like cheating. I could have thickened caramel sauce with flour like in another bar I make, but I was really after a soft, homemade caramel candy, which I've never made before. Mix caramel sauce with the peanut butter ball filling? Hey, there's an idea. OK. I did that...and ended up with a caramelly peanut fudge-like substance that seized up and nearly burned out the motor of my stand mixer, and oozed an oil-slick's worth of grease. I think I mixed in the caramel sauce while it was way too hot. Actually now that I've drained/blotted off the peanut oil/grease, it's not half bad.
I didn't want anything that was going to need refrigeration (I'd seen recipes that called for gelatin or butter in the fillings). Fridge and cooler space were highly limited that day, and they were going to need to be able to hold up for hours on a very warm day.
Only days afterward did I think of baking the brownie and carefully splitting it like a layer cake, and making soft caramel candy, and proceeding with filling from there. This recipe makes such a large, thick, sturdy brownie, that might be possible. For now, here's what I did with these components, each of which is good on its own. I will definitely be making the 'Pig Candy' again!
Fudgy Chocolate Brownies (Recipe adapted From Joy of Baking):
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs
2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick cooking spray) a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan. Then line the pan with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water (or on low heat in microwave in large glass bowl). Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk (can use a hand mixer) together the eggs and sugar. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and then fold into the chocolate and sugar mixture until well combined. Add peanuts.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 - 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. These freeze very well.
Makes about 32 brownies.
Note: If you would like to make a smaller batch, simply half the recipe and bake the brownies in an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pan for about 30-35 minutes
Salted Caramel Ganache (Recipe From Sel et Sucre Blog)
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 1/2 cups cream, at room temperature
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or sea salt or kosher. Adjust amount to taste)
Place 16 ounces semisweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl (glass is best) and set aside.
In a saucepan with high sides, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp corn syrup, and enough water to give the mixture the consistency of wet sand.
Turn the heat on high, and let come to a boil. Do not stir, but (before boiling starts) brush the sides of the pot with water (this gets any sugar that has splashed up on the sides).
Let the sugar bubble, swirling the pan occasionally, until it darkens to an amber color (about 4 – 5 minutes). Remove from heat immediately, and carefully (much bubbling will occur) pour in 1 1/2 cups cream, at room temperature and 1/2 tsp fleur de sel, and stir together for 1 minute (use a whisk).
Pour the hot caramel over the chocolate, and let sit for two minutes. Stir together until smooth and add more fleur de sel if needed.
Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes before using.
Caramel Sauce (From Epicurious)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup whipping cream
Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add cream (you may want to stand back — mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir sauce over low heat until any caramel bits dissolve and sauce is smooth. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat just until pourable, then let caramel sauce cool to room temperature.)
Pig Candy (Peanut Brittle with Bacon) (Adapted from The Former Chef blog)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 oz water
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
5 oz uncooked thick cut bacon (1/2 cup cooked, chopped)
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp unsalted butter plus 1 tsp
Tools: Candy Thermometer and Silpat baking mat
Please read the recipe notes below before beginning.
Cook the bacon until crisp and drain on a paper towel. Allow to cool and chop into 1/4 inch pieces and set aside.
Get all of the other ingredients ready and measured out in advance as once the process starts it moves fast.
Butter a baking sheet or silicone liner, and butter a spatula and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed 1 quart pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water and cook over a medium flame until the sugar melts and the liquid begins to simmer. Use a candy thermometer and cook until the mixture gets to around 285 degrees. Stir in the peanuts and bacon using a silicone spatula.
Continue cooking until the themometer reaches between 300 and 310 degrees. Turn off the flame and remove from the heat. The sugar will just be starting to color here. Working quickly, carefully stir in the butter and baking soda (it will bubble and foam as you mix it in, be careful).
Immediately pour the mixture on to the prepared pan and spread it out as thin as possible with the spatula. It will harden as it cools, so work fast.
Once cool, break it into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Roughly equal parts natural peanut butter (stir to combine) and powdered/confectioners' sugar, plus several tablespoons milk to make a pliable, dough-like consistency. Add sea salt to taste.
Bake the brownie and cool. Paint enough caramel sauce onto the surface of the brownie to moisten and help the peanut filling to adhere. Press on a layer of peanut filling. Top with a coating of salted caramel ganache. Break Pig Candy into bits and pieces, and sprinkle over ganache. Refrigerate briefly to set the ganache.
(I made three pans of brownies and wasted most of the caramel sauce, so if you make only one pan, you will have ganache and sauce and 'Pig Candy' left over. Not necessarily a terrible situation.)
To cut, pull the finished brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper, and use a large chef's knife dipped in hot water (and dried).