Sunday, September 30, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Sometimes, like this weekend, I've got things to do.  Like trying to sneak in a 90 minute work out, running errands, showering, getting dressed cuz I need to be ready 20 minutes ago, cleaning up my room and shoving some kind of nutrient down my throat all while baking something amazing that will make a hot boy with abs fall in love with me.

Bet you're a little impressed with me at this point right?  Well  you can be (especially if you're this mysterious aforementioned boy with abs), but this time I actually had some help when I made these salted caramel chocolate chunk brownies (from heaven).  That help was from The Women's Bean Project in Colorado.

Let's explain.  To be specific, the women there helped me out by putting together the brownie mix that I used.  Yup, I used a mix. So these are half from scratch.  And it's okay for three reasons.  1).  I am not good at making brownies.  I have burnt more than one flat, lack luster batch. I am awful at it, so someone taking over the difficult task of telling me how to put it together is quite welcomed.  Especially when they TASTE good.  2). I looked at the ingredients first.  Flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla.... all legit stuff i'd be using anyways!  Nothing weird or artificial.  3)  I get to tell you about this great non profit-org that you probably have never heard of before.

The Women's Bean Project is a social enterprise that offers a transitional job in gourmet food manufacturing to women.  The women hired at the Bean Project have histories of poverty and unemployment.  The program is designed to provide immediate income, arrange support services to overcome barriers to employment, and teach the job readiness skills needed to get and keep a job.  The Women's Bean Project does not employ women to sell its products.  They sell its products in order to employ women.  

My friend Samantha (who I met while vacationing in Europe last year) works there and contacted me earlier this month to ask if she could send me a few of their mixes for me to try out.  The aim was to find a few new and interesting ways to spruce up the mixes.  So I googled the organization and their products and was more than stoked to try something out.  Their gourmet products include cookie and brownie mixes.  Right up my alley!  Hopefully you will see 1-2 more post about them in the coming weeks.  Because as Sam promised, a big box arrived at my house a few days later  from the Women's Bean Project.  Every mix was hand packaged by someone.  So thanks Gloria, whoever you are, for putting together "Cindy's Sinfully Chocolate Brownie Mix" for me.

The recipe below can be used with any boxed brownie mix but hopefully if you know that you'll be busy this holiday season, (and I mean who wont be?) and want to stock up on brownie mix you'll skip the Duncan Hines ready mix and consider helping The Women's Bean Project instead.  You can find more information about them here, and purchase their affordable products here.

To continue with my September caramel theme, I decided to slather a whole bunch of it on top of the brownies.  With some coarse salt because salted caramel is the only thing better than regular caramel.  But it needed a layer of chocolate chunks too so that came first.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Brownies 

1 bag of Cindy's Sinfully Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 4 oz bar of good chocolate, chopped coarsely  (I used Ghirardelli cuz im a SF chocolate snob)
8 oz unwrapped caramels
1/4 cup heavy cream
coarse salt for sprinkling

1. Mix brownie batter, per recipe instructions.
2. Line an 8x8 inch pan in aluminum foil and butter/spray.  This will aid you in easier clean up, removal and ultimately consumption.  Fill pan with brownie batter.
3.  Place pan in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, just enough for the batter to start to set but not for it to bake completely.
4.  Remove pan from oven and spread chocolate chunks over the top of batter.  Return to oven to finish baking; approximately 10-15 minutes. When done remove from oven and set aside to cool.
5. While brownies are baking, place unwrapped caramels in a saucepan with heavy milk and stir until melted.
4. Once caramel sauce is ready, drizzle over the tops of the brownies.  You can either do this with a spoon or use a bottle.
5.  Sprinkle brownies with coarse salt.
6. Once cool, remove foil and brownies from tray and discard foil.  Cut brownies into small pieces.

The result?

Just this.  Fudgey, crunchy, sweet and savory.

The brownies are super fudgey and moist, just as promised.  The added crunch you get when you let them cool and the top chocolate chunk layer has solidified itself again. (Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with eating a warm brownie, of course.)  The caramel is the sweet, and those pretty salt flakes is what makes the savory.

This week's eating well was a total wash, MyFitnessPal is super mad at me, and I am going to have to eat spinach with dust dressing for the next 30 days to stop being so squishy for my upcoming cruise.  Though I will admit, it was super worth it.

Go make these, nao. Serve them up on platter for you and your friends.

They'll be glad you did. You'll be glad you did.  Heck, i'll be glad for you too because I hope you're the sharing type.  I might kinda be out already...

Oh and pro tip;  put some vanilla bean ice cream on top of these if you're feeling daring. Ah-mazing.


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