As soon as I decided to bake for the interns, I knew I wanted to bake my caramel macchiato brownies. This decision was because Once Upon a Tart is holding her Brownie Babe of the Month contest, and boy, would I love to be the Brownie Babe this month! This recipe is perfect, I thought, since I created it for my school’s Iron Chef contest and won 1st place in the dessert category for it! That prize bought me a new hand mixer and a blender, so maybe the recipe can now get me an awesome apron, as well as the adoration of the interns ;)
Well, mission successful on the latter ½. The 2 interns who have tried it so far seemed to have enjoyed them. One kept licking his fingers! Always a compliment to the chef! Or just a sign that the caramel is gooey…
I first created these brownies using my favorite brownie base recipe (Rocky Road Brownies from The Treasury of Home Baking), and decided to make them like the Starbucks drink by adding coffee, topping with cream cheese (to replicate the cream foam) and caramel. They come out thick, rich and fudgey with a wonderful depth of flavor from the coffee and caramel and a sweetness from the frosting. It combines so well that your daily trip to Starbucks may become superfluous!
So that is the story behind the decision to make the brownies, and now the self deprecating story of their making. Let me start with the fact that I have a history of hurting myself baking. I have a scar on my left forearm from the removal of a cookie sheet that went awry. I have dents in my foot from where I stepped on broken glass from my salsa jar. This history did not evade me last night when I burnt 3 (THREE) of my fingers in a REALLY stupid mistake with the caramel. Look at the directions I give you. They say to heat in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time. Normally it takes me about 30 seconds, and I am lazy, so I just hit the “add minute” button and stop it every 10 seconds. That is, unless I am dumb like I was last night, and I go to answer my phone after I start it. I came back to the microwave with 7 seconds left. I cooked the caramel for 53 seconds straight.
Lesson 1) caramel bubbles and poofs when it is hot and even a handful will start overflowing from a bowl.
Lesson 2) Even if it is overflowing, do not remove said bubbling caramel from the microwave because it is HOT!
I opened the microwave, and at the sight of bubbling caramel getting on the microwave, I decided to quickly remove it. Except that boiling caramel is HOT and I burned 3 of my fingers in the process of the rescue mission. I spent the rest of the night icing my hands with a bag of the frozen green bell pepper soup (I KNEW it would come in handy!). Self deprecating stupidity story aside, this is a great, (almost) fool-proof recipe that anyone who can even tolerate coffee will love.
Tips for next time: pay attention to the caramel. Otherwise, I have made this recipe exactly to my liking.
Caramel Macchiato Brownies
Rocky Road Brownie Base
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
(I add 3 TBSP instant coffee powder)
1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 8-inch square pan.
2.Combine butter and cocoa in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth.
3.(I add coffee powder and combine)
4.Remove from heat; stir in sugar, flour, buttermilk, egg and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
5.Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until center feels dry.(I have omitted the final steps that are based around the rocky road toppings)
Caramel Macchiato Topping
½ to ¾ cup store bought cream cheese frosting
Instant coffee powder
Worthers original chewy caramels (not the hard candy, the soft, chewy ones)
Mix ½ to ¾ cup of cream cheese frosting with a light sprinkle of instant coffee powder and spread on cooled brownies. Sprinkle with instant coffee powder to get a speckled effect.
Put a handful of Worthers original chewy caramels in a microwave safe bowl with about a tablespoon of water and a pinch of instant coffee powder. Heat for 10 seconds at a time in the microwave (stirring once possible) until it is soft enough to drizzle on top. Drizzle the caramel over the brownie and decorate as you wish. Refrigerate.