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Dear Perfect Brownie Cutters,

I’ve tried parchment paper, cleaning knives between cuts, and even a special brownie-specific pan.  Result: delicious, messy-looking brownies.  What’s your secret?  Is there a magic trick?  I’m all ears eyes.

melty goodness

In the meantime, I’m not going to stop making brownies because that would be dumb.  They will remain destined for my belly, not glossy magazine pages which is better anyway.  Who eats magazines?

(okay, these aren’t that bad.)

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Making bon bons resulted in awesome leftovers: passion fruit caramel and about 6 ounces of El Rey Gran Saman 70%.  The obvious solution?  Ridiculous brownies, of course.  My usual go-to brownie recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, but rather than just cutting back the sugar a little for my bittersweet, I decided to make Nick Malgieri’s Supernatural Brownies.  The recipe is similar since it uses brown sugar and a small amount of flour resulting in fudgy squares with a deep chocolate flavor.  

caramel alert!

And with passion fruit caramel?  Things can only get better.

Passion Fruit Caramel Brownies

inspired by the Sweet & Salty Brownies from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

So these are messy…especially when you go a little crazy with the caramel like yours truly.  Try to keep it away from the edges and you should be golden.

Brownies
(halved from Nick Malgieri’s recipe)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, more for pan and parchment paper
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
passion fruit caramel (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter an 8×8 pan, line with parchment, and butter parchment.

Melt the butter and chocolate together, then set aside to cool.  You can do this in a double-boiler, the microwave…or I just melted it in a pan sans double-boiler over low heat (shh).  In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then beat in the salt, sugars, and vanilla.  Pour in the melted chocolate/butter and whisk well.  Fold in the flour until just combined.

Pour about half of the brownie batter into the pan.  Pour the caramel on top, but don’t go too crazy like I did.  You’ll want to keep it away from the edges because that makes a mess.  Spoon the remaining batter on top and gently smooth over the caramel.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until top is shiny and starting to crack. Cool completely in pan before cutting.

I know I was complaining about my inability to cut brownies neatly, but here’s a tip: these are way easier to cut if you put the cooled brownies in the fridge to let the caramel firm up a bit.  Otherwise, you’re on your way to messytown.

Passion Fruit Caramel
adapted from Lisa at Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives

This makes one seriously delicious cup of caramel.  You definitely don’t need this much for the brownies, but it’s good to have around.  Drizzle it on everything. Oh, and passion fruit puree – Goya has some in the frozen food section, at least in Texas.  You might need to look at an international kind of store elsewhere.

1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup passion fruit puree, thawed if frozen (see note above)
1/2 tablespoon salt

Add the sugar, syrup, and water to a medium saucepan.  Stir to combine over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  When the mixture reaches a dark amber color, about 310F – 315F (155C – 158C) on a candy thermometer, cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the butter, heavy cream, and passion fruit puree.  (I had these all mixed together in a bowl ready to go…mise en place, if you want to be fancy.)

Transfer the caramel to a medium bowl (a liquid measuring cup is perfect!) and let cool.

Once cool, you can transfer it again into something like a squeeze bottle, then refrigerate. FYI, it’s dreamy on vanilla ice cream.

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I think everyone who tried these enjoyed them, but my sister told me my parents thought they were too sweet.  Party poopers.  This was actually the second time I’ve used this brownie recipe.  I like super fudgy brownies without a hint of cakeyness; these succeed.   To quote my friend Jill: “I like how I don’t need to use my teeth to eat these.  That way, once my teeth rot from eating brownies, I know I can still eat them.”

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And there you have it.  If that sounds too soft, add nuts.

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