Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bake Sale: "Gold Bar" (i.e., Caramel, Roasted Almond) Brownies

I made these brownies as part two of my bake sale goodies, and they sold equally as fast. Tip: label your brownies as homemade and use the buzz words caramel and roasted almonds, and they'll be gone in a flash!

I have just been so pleased with all of Fran's recipes so far, and this was possibly the most delicious brownie I've ever had. Something about watching the caramel bubble as it cooked in the oven stirred me deeply! If you're not an almond fan, by all means, omit them, but they really add a nice crunch and depth, especially roasted. But the brownie base itself is just awesome plain too.

Apparently, the Gold Bar is one of Fran's best-selling chocolate bars. She started making these brownies in her shop with the leftover Gold Bar scraps, but this recipe is for the home baker without an endless supply of Gold Bars. :)

Gold Bar Brownies
1 c. store-bought caramel sauce
8 oz. (1 2/3 c.) whole almonds
1 lb. semisweet chocolate
1.5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 stick + 2 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. + 2 T. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. sugar
1.5 t. vanilla extract
3/4 t. instant espresso powder (I omitted)
3 large eggs
1 3/4 c. cake flour, sifted then measured

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9x13" sheet pan. Place whole almonds on a separate baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool then roughly chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.

Finely chop 12 ounces (not all!) of the semisweet chocolate and all of the unsweetened chocolate (1.5 ounces) for melting. In a separate pile, chop the remaining 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks, to serve as chocolate chips.

Melt the finely chopped semisweet and unsweetened chocolates in a double boiler or a good pot over low heat. Remove when nearly melted and continue stirring until smooth.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the two sugars until light and very fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla and the espresso powder (if using espresso powder; if not, just go to the next step).

Add vanilla/espresso mixture to butter mixture and beat to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions and scraping the bowl several times. Pour in the melted chocolate and beat to combine.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and FOLD in the sifted cake flour by hand until no traces of white remain (it might take a little while). Fold in the 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate chunks and toasted almonds (I actually skipped the almonds at this point and placed them on top of the brownie batter once it was in the pan instead). The batter will be very thick. Evenly spread the batter in the prepared 13x9" pan.

Spoon the caramel sauce in tablespoon-sized dollops over the top. Using a table knife drawn through the batter, swirl the caramel into the batter to marbelize. (Toss on the almonds now if you haven't already!)

Bake for 45 minutes. When tested with a toothpick in the brownie portion (not the caramel!), it will have moist crumbs when done. Let cool in the pan one hour (important!) and cut into squares.

Welcome to molten caramel heaven!

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