Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Valentine's surprise... salted caramel brownies

Regular readers of my blog will remember from last year's Valentine's post that I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day. I don't believe in going all out and spending loads of money on one day every year... shouldn't we do little things every day (which don't necessarily cost lots of money) to show people that we love them?

Anyway, even though I never make a big fuss on Valentine's Day, I decided to bake a chocolatey surprise for Neil. I love baking and I hadn't had a chance to bake anything since before Christmas, so this also gave me a good excuse to use my new baking goodies!



My new apron!


As soon as I read Kaz's blog post on her salted caramel brownies, I knew I just had to try this recipe and that it was the perfect baking adventure for my surprise Valentine's Day treat. I made chocolate brownies last June which were rather amazing, so I thought it would be interesting to make a different kind of brownie this time.


Ingredients

180g plain flour
3tbsp cocoa powder
300g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
220g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
50g chocolate chips (optional - I had some left over from a previous baking adventure!)
1 tin of Caramel
1 tsp salt



Can you tell that I shop in Tesco?


Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 160C and line your baking tin with baking paper. 

2. Place the chocolate and butter into a bowl over a pan of water and stir on a medium heat until it's all melted. I had to use a cereal bowl and a milk pan because I didn't have a large heatproof bowl... this is not recommended! Let's just say that the bowl was very full. 

3. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract to a bowl, then add the chocolate/butter mixture and mix until smooth. I forgot that I was supposed to use two types of sugar so only put the caster sugar in... I then added the brown sugar a bit later on when I realised that I'd left it out. I don't think it made much difference, but just bear in mind that there are two types of sugar to add. I used my electric mixer... works like a dream!




4. Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and beat the mixture until it's all combined. I also had to add the brown sugar here as I forgot to do this in step 3, and I also added the chocolate chips at this stage. My mixture was extremely thick at this point... possibly this was because I added the brown sugar at the wrong point. I used the electric mixer for a minute or two but then had to switch to a wooden spoon. As you can see from the photo below, my mixer was a bit clogged up!






5. Put half the mixture into the baking tin, making sure it's spread evenly. This step was very tricky as my mixture was so thick, so mine wasn't spread particularly evenly.




6. Add the salt to the tin of caramel, making sure you mix thoroughly. Add a layer of caramel on top of the brownie mix, making sure that you leave a small gap around the edge. 

7. Layer the remaining brownie mixture on top of the caramel. Again, this was very difficult as a result of my super thick mixture and I didn't quite have enough mixture left to cover all the caramel, as you can see below. 




8. Bake the brownies in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, then leave to cool before cutting up and serving. Mine were extremely moist and gloopy when they came out of the oven so I couldn't even cut them into squares, but the mixture solidified as it got cooler. As you can see, it didn't matter that I hadn't covered all the caramel with the brownie mixture as the top layer of chocolate seemed to be magically spread evenly after it came out of the oven. 






I was very worried when the brownies first came out of the oven as I couldn't cut them into chunks due to the moistness of the mixture, but they turned out fine in the end. I cut half the mixture into chunks (after I'd left it to cool for a while) and put the chunks into my new baking tin. I then put them on my little table with chocolates, a lit Yankee Candle and Valentine's card ready for Neil's arrival. I know, I know... I needn't have bought the chocolates, but the hazelnut praline in these Cadbury chocolates is so good!




Neil had also ignored the 'no presents' rule and arrived with a beautiful bunch of pink and red flowers and a little chocolate rose. We're a sneaky pair!




What did you get up to on Valentine's Day? Did you bake anything? Send me your links!

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