Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Super-Fudgy Walnut, Caramel, and Marshmallow Brownies #SweetenTheSeason

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SweetenTheSeason #CollectiveBias

When I got an opportunity to do a post that involved baking with chocolate and other goodies ... well, how could I say no? I love baking, and chocolate is so ... chocolate. I mean, what more can I say? I decided to make brownies. But not any brownies. These have caramel bits and walnuts inside, and a puffy-gooey colorful splash of marshmallow on top.

At first, I wanted to use the marshmallows inside the brownies, to get the colors to show inside, but that didn't work as expected. The brownies were delicious, but the marshmallows melted and the colors mostly disappeared. So then I decided to top the brownies with the marshmallows, so you could see them.

See what torture I go through for you? Brownies had to be consumed. Okay, and I gave some away, too. But still.

I picked up my goodies at the local Walmart where a "Bake Center" display was conveniently positioned in the middle of the big aisle in the grocery area. Like a beacon of ... baking to come. I swear, I always gawk at the stuff in the baking displays, even if I'm not shopping for baking stuff. Do you do that too? I just have to stop and browse. Have to.

I had a whole list of products I could choose to use, and I was supposed to pick at least three for my actual recipe. I narrowed it down to some Baker's chocolate bars (I stocked up on white, semi-sweet, and unsweetened chocolate bars, because I use them all the time) and then I added Kraft caramel bits, because I thought they would be fun, and then I hunted down the Jet-Puffed Candy Corn marshmallows because I thought they'd be pretty.

While candy corn is probably most associated with Halloween, the colors of the marshmallows were very fall-like and just as appropriate for all the days leading up to Thanksgiving. And, hey, why not have some brownies for Thanksgiving dessert, too?

I kind of love this recipe. It's simple to put together and it freezes well, so you can make extra and have them on hand if someone drops by for coffee or if you need an emergency dessert. And while these look like something that came from a fancy bakery, they're budget friendly, so you can make them often!

Did I mention they're very dense and very fudge-like? I prefer to eat them just a little bit chilled. But that's just me. They'd probably be amazing if they were just a little warm, and then topped with ice cream. Or at room temperature. Yeah, they're that good.

Since they're so rich and luxurious, a little goes a long way. I suggest cutting them in smaller pieces rather than ginormous ones, like you'd do for a cake - at least 16 pieces - or even more. I cut my second batch into 36 pieces, each about 1 3/4-inch square. Possibly too small for dessert, but perfect for a little snack.

To make removing the brownies from the pan a little easier, I suggest lining your baking pan with parchment.

Super-Fudgy Walnut, Caramel, and Marshmallow Brownies
Makes 1 9-inch square pan, 16 or more pieces

1 4-ounce bar Baker's semi-sweet chocolate
1 4-ounce bar Baker's unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits (or more, to taste)
1 cup Jet-Puffed Candy Corn marshmallows (or more, to taste)
1/2 bar (2 ounces) Baker's white chocolate, chopped (optional)

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler on the stove, or in the microwave in a microwave-safe container (I used a measuring cup) in 30-second increments, stirring in between heating, until the chocolate and butter are fully melted. Stir until they're combined.

Meanwhile, put the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

Add the melted chocolate to the dry mixture and beat well.

Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the walnuts and stir until the walnuts are evenly distributed throughout the chocolate mixture. Note: you could add the caramel bits along with the walnuts, but I found that it was easier to make sure they were evenly distributed when I layered them in the center. But it works either way.

Put about half of the mixture in the pan and press it evenly into the pan. It is very thick. Don't worry about that.

Sprinkle the caramel bits evenly on top of the chocolate. You can add more, if you like.

Add the rest of the chocolate mixture to the pan and press it evenly on top of the caramel bits.

Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until the edges of the brownies are fully set and the center has just a tiny bit of jiggle to it. It shouldn't be sloppy, but it's fine if it moves a bit.

Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the top with the marshmallows. You don't need to measure exactly - just scatter on as many as you like. Keep in mind that they'll flatten and spread out as they melt.

Scatter the chopped white chocolate on top, if you're using it.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the marshmallows have softened and melted. Mmmm.

Because of the fudgy nature of these brownies, you won't be able to test them with a toothpick, as you would for a cake, but they should be set in the center (no more jiggle) when they're done and the edges will be slightly crisp.

Let the pan cool completely on a rack before removing the brownies. I suggest refrigerating them before slicing, for neater looking cuts.

You can make these brownies well in advance and freeze them. Remove them from the freezer and let them rest a for a while at room temperature, so they can soften enough for slicing.

The marshmallows and caramel bits also make nice snacks all on their own, so it would be perfectly fine to scatter some on the plate with the brownies or have them sitting in bowls on your dessert bar.

Note: If you can't find the candy corn marshmallows, you can use regular mini marshmallows or any seasonal or colored mini marshmallows that you like.

For more info on the products I used (YUM!), more recipes, and a COUPON for Kraft products at Walmart, check it out!