Rainy Saturday- Salted Caramel Brownies

Tomorrow my friend Gabby is having a party to watch the Oscars.  Today it is very rainy and dreary outside.  Last night I played Just Dance with Kat and Becky for like 3 hours.  All of that adds up to a lazy Saturday of sleeping in, then baking a lot.  I needed to get my dessert ready for tomorrows party, so it was good all of these things added up to lazy baking day :-)

I looked through my pinterest dessert board and picked two things to make!  I settled on salted caramel brownies, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, and dark chocolate, pistachio and smoked sea salt cookies by Joy the Baker.  I had all the ingredients on hand, and they both seemed special enough for a fancy Oscars party.  Both had a play of salty and sweet, and I have been loving that combination lately (see my post about bellybuttons recently if you don't believe me!)

Here's the info for the brownies.  I'll post soon about the cookies :-)
So first I made the caramel!  This was my first time ever making real caramel.  I've made easy versions of it, but melting sugar?  Nope.  It was so fun!
Meanwhile, make the brownies!
Butter melted with chocolate.  What could be better.
Now time for assembly!
Umm, then I looked down and there was a hornet on the chair next to me.  Cue freak out for about 30 minutes.  Like, how do you capture a hornet on the top rail of a chair?  There's not enough area to cover with a cup and omg, I was just staring at this thing for like half an hour.  Then I practiced on another chair bringing a card and a glass to the area and not leaving a slot where the hornet could get out.  It took me another 5 minutes before I felt comfortable enough to try it on the real thing, hahaha.  I'm telling you, this hornet derailed my Saturday!
But he seemed pretty calm and didn't start freaking out until he was sufficiently captured in the glass.  Phew.  I had my iphone on top weighing down the card, and then got a text and he really wasn't happy, hahahaha.  But I made it, I did it all by myself!

Ok, back to the brownies finally!
I am so excited to eat these tomorrow at the Oscars party!  I hope they last that long... :-)

Recipe straight from Smitten Kitchen (she can explain it better than I can)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt, more to taste)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/8 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

Make caramel: Set a square of parchment paper over a medium-sized plate. Lightly butter or coat the parchment with a spray oil, just as an added security measure.
In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your sugar; this will take about 5 minutes, stirring if necessary to break up large chunks. By the time it is all melted, if should be a nice copper color; if not, cook until it is. Remove from heat and stir in butter. It may not incorporate entirely but do your best. Stir in cream and salt and return saucepan to the stove over medium-high heat, bringing it back to a simmer and melted again any sugar that solidified. Cook bubbling caramel for a few minutes more, until it is a shade darker.
Pour out onto parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer. Freeze until solidified, which can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on your freezer.

Meanwhile, or when your caramel is almost firm, make your brownies: Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.

Assemble brownies: When caramel is firm, remove it from the freezer and chop it into rough 1-inch squares. Gently fold all but a small amount of caramel bits into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading until mostly even. Scatter remaining caramel bits on top. Bake in heated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool thoroughly — a process that can be hastened in the freezer, which will also produce cleaner cuts — and cut into squares or other desired shapes.

So good luck!  And enjoy watching the Oscars tomorrow!

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