Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trouble me

[Click play to hear the original while reading]


Trouble me.
Disturb me.
With all your cares.  And these brownies.
Bake with me.
Oh, the day will be well spent.

Why put this caramel in, underneath the chocolate, when
A mix is quicker, and good?
Eat with me.

Trust me.
Just believe me.  Each bite you take is like fudge brownie heaven.
Trust me.
There's no telling how they bake up deep and dense.
Trust me.
Why am I using this great big slug of fine chocolate?
Trust me.
When it calls for Dutch cocoa, too?

Why put this caramel in, underneath the chocolate, when
You can't see it, in the end?
Eat with me.

Let me.
Put them away to keep, while you're yearning.
Let me.
Please don't try them, just because they're near.
Let me.
Have you slice them small
because they're, they're rich, calories never endin'.
Let me.
Sprinkle that salt on, and watch you squeal. 

Spare not.
Don't spare...the fleur de sel.

Trouble me.

Trouble me.
Disturb me.
With all your cares.  And these brownies.
Trust me.
And be converted from the ones that are your norm.
Let me.
And lastly, just say goodbye to being thin.

There's more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see.
Bliss is what I'm offering...
If you'll bake with me-e-e-ee.

With appreciation of the original "Trouble Me", by 10,000 Maniacs.  The whole song, but most especially the line, "Send you off to sleep, with a 'There, there, now, stop your turnin' and tossin'," is for Mom, whose ashes are being scattered at sea today.
Sweet & Salty Brownies
From Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  They are a lot of trouble to make.  But completely, utterly worth it.  It is very important that you allow them to rest, air tight, for at least day after you bake them.  This somehow transforms them from a rather overwrought pan of chocolate into a texturally incredible bite of perfectly balanced sweet/salty magic.  I'd say fudge, but that's not it, or a great flourless chocolate cake, but that's not it either.  Somehow, it's just exactly what a grown up brownie should be.

For the caramel filling:
1 c. sugar
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. fleur de sel
1/4 c. sour cream

For the brownies:
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
11 oz. quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla

For assembly:
1 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel
1 tsp coarse sugar

Make the Caramel:
Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium saucepan, stirring to combine, but working carefully so as not to splash the sides of the pan.  Cook, without stirring any more, over high heat until a candy thermometer reads 350 degrees, or until the mixture is dark amber. This should take 6 to 8 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it, because it can go from good to burnt really fast.  Remove from heat, and slowly stir in the cream (be will bubble like crazy, and if you go too fast, the caramel may harden up, or sieze, in reaction to the cool cream.  If it does sieze, try putting the pan back on low heat and whisking like crazy for a few minutes.)  Stir in the fleur de sel and whisk in the sour cream.   Set aside to cool.  [Personal note.  I love caramel sauce, but didn't love the sour cream note to this one when I tasted it.  I was therefore skeptical of its use in the brownie.  I was wrong.]

Make the Brownies:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter the sides and top of a 13x9 pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the parchment paper.  [Personal note:  I was tempted to skip this fussy part.  Don't. You will find it very helpful later.]

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.

Place the chocolate and butter in a mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water (or a real double boiler, if you have one.)  Stir occasionally until they are completely melted and combined.  Turn off the heat, but leave the bowl over the water.   Add both sugars, and whisk until completely combined.    Remove the bowl from the pan.   The mixture should now be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture, and whisk until just combined.   Add the other two eggs, and whisk them in, just until combined.   Gently whisk in the vanilla.   Do not overbeat the batter!

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients in until there is just a trace of the flour mixture visible.

Pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula.   Drizzle about 3/4 c. of the caramel sauce on top in a zig zag pattern, making sure not to have any caramel touch the sides of the will burn during baking.   [The book recommends smoothing out the caramel with an offset spatula at this point.  I just poured carefully and figured it would be ok if it wasn't perfectly even.  It was OK.]  In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie mixture over the caramel layer, and smooth that out gently with a spatula so the caramel layer is completely covered.

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through to ensure they cook evenly.   Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs on it.   Remove the brownies from the oven, and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and the coarse sugar.   Cool completely.

The book says you can serve them at this point.  I say, carefully remove the brownies from the pan.  I did this by taking one corner piece out (sacrificial sample!), then using a wide spatula to lift out the rest using the parchment paper as a base to hold on to.  I wrapped the brownies first in foil, then in plastic wrap to seal them completely, and put them in the fridge for 24 hours.   About a hour before serving, I unwrapped them, cut into very small bars, and allowed them to come to room temperature.  WOW!

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