My children and I visit our local library about once a week. My daughter’s favorite activity is sitting at the “big computer,” where she gets to play some sort of game, usually in the theme of Dora the Explorer. While she is happily entertained my son and I scour the children’s books nearby for a handful that I might not mind reading twelve times a day for the next week or two.
From there we move to the reading boat, an area shaped like, you guessed it, a boat, where kids can curl up and read a book. I let the kids get a preview of the books I’ve selected (and find out if, in fact, I’ve picked one I don’t care to read again) and then we go pick out a DVD to rent. Pixar movies reign supreme in our house, as well as the occasional Dora or Diego.
Once we’ve finished our tour of the children’s section I often have every intention of checking out and leaving. However, from the checkout line, I can see the “recent arrivals” in the adult books, and I can’t help but peruse the cookbook section.
This is usually a gold mine. Now, rest assured, I have upwards of 20 cookbooks in my home collection. I don’t have enough meals left in my life to cook everything in them. Still, there’s something so alluring about a beautiful, well photographed cookbook that makes me want to take it home and read it like a novel.
I tend to walk away from this section with a greedy selection of recently released cookbooks. Last time we went, I was blessed to find the Fat Witch cookbook. Photographs of brownies and bars from the famed bakery grace the pages and make you fat just looking at them. Needless to say, I had to give a few of them a try.
My first adventure was the classic Fat Witch Brownie. Like a fool, I made them to take to some friends who had recently had a baby. They looked delicious, and I could hardly keep from eating them.
A few days later I was finally able to turn out these caramel brownies. They took a few more meticulous steps than I care for, but ohhhhh, were they worth it. The caramel all but melts into the middle of the batter, creating a fudge, chewy bar that I kept coming back to. I highly recommend letting these cool completely or even putting them in the refrigerator overnight before eating, otherwise they are a gooey (albeit delicious) mess.
Its a good thing this cookbook is due back at the library tomorrow or I would send myself into diabetic shock trying each treat within. Start with these brownies and, if you still have a sweet tooth, check out this cookbook from a very noteworthy bakery.
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
30 caramel squares
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x9 baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
Stir the flour and salt into the chocolate mixture. Mix until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
Pour half of the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan. Set the pan aside.
Unwrap the caramels and put them in a microwaveable bowl with the water. Microwave in 60 second intervals until the caramels have melted into a thick liquid. Remove the bowl from the microwave and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the caramel with a fork to get a consistent texture. Pour the caramel over the batter in the pan. Don't go all the way to the edges and don't worry about covering every spot. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, allowing the caramel to set.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spread the remaining half of the batter evenly over the caramel using a spatula. Let the pan sit for 15 minutes to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour.
Adapted from Fat Witch Brownies