Monday, February 13, 2012
So let's dispense with the flowers and hearts and cupids, this is not a story about long walks on the beach and heartfelt gazes. It's the story of how one night, my tendency to feel exceedingly sorry for myself coupled with my incomparable pessimism about the future met something they couldn't overcome: my best friend, Lizzie. We'd headed to a local bar because it was Lizzie's last night in town and we are fundamentally lazy people. Our conversation turned to the rather pathetic state of my love life and because I was a completely ancient twenty-four years old I declared quite piteously that no one, ever, would ever date me. I'm a lucky girl, but more importantly, I choose my friends well and that's probably why instead of smacking me (which I certainly deserved) Lizzie managed to say (with no sarcasm, exasperation or condescension) that she was pretty sure any guy in the entire bar would go out with me, if I asked. I'm not entirely clear on the particulars of how this became a bet, but I do know that twenty dollars were laid on the line, mine for the taking if I asked a guy and was rejected, Lizzie's to keep if I got a date out of it. Now, I take things seriously when money is involved, so I decided it was only fair that Liz select the guy. This way I wouldn't be able to make a quick buck off her by asking out someone married or gay or otherwise impossible to get. She turned around, pointed to a guy behind us and said "He's cute. Ask him out." So I did. I can't say he was particularly thrilled at the prospect (his response was "Um, I don't really know you, but, okay, I guess"), but it seems to have turned out well for him. Honestly though, we are both incredibly lucky that Lizzie has such good taste.
If you are still single, please feel free to take your best friend to task for failing to provide you with the right guy. Also feel free to eat the whole damn pan of turtle brownies yourself. If Ryan weren't such a great guy, I probably wouldn't share.
And yes, I really did meet my husband, in a bar, on a bet. No joke. It's still the best $20 I ever spent.
Inspired by Pioneer Woman and She's Becoming DoughMessTic
for the caramel:
1/2 C heavy cream (sure you can cheat and use any cream, or half and half, it will just be looser)
1 t kosher salt
1 C sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1 t vanilla
1/4 C sour cream
for the brownies:
4 oz semisweet Ghiradelli chocolate
1 stick butter (8 T)
1 C sugar
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1-2 cups chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 325 F.
Begin making the caramel. In a small saucepan, whisk together the heavy cream and salt. Heat on low, just enough to dissolve the salt. Pour in a bowl and set aside. In another saucepan (or heck, wash the same one), combine the sugar and corn syrup. Heat on medium high to 350 F on your candy thermometer. Be sure to stir frequently so it doesn't burn, clump or do anything else untoward. I probably should have pulled it when the thermometer got to 340 because it doesn't cool quickly and you don't want it burned. It should be a medium golden brown when you pull it, and the sugar and corn syrup will have melted all together. Remove it from heat for a minute, then add the cream mixture while stirring constantly. This will cause it to foam up and over the sides of your pan. Try to avoid burning yourself. Curse if necessary. Use a larger pan next time.Add the vanilla and then whisk in the sour cream. Let it cool to room temperature (I put it in the fridge), while you get the brownies together.
Prepare a 8x8 baking dish, by lining it with tinfoil (tip: flip the pan upside down, mold the tinfoil to the bottom and then pick it up and stuff it in. No more tears as you get it to fill the corners!). I sprayed that puppy with cooking spray, but you could butter it, butter and flour it, do whatever you like to keep it from sticking. Okay, using a double boiler, your microwave or a glass bowl over a metal pan heat the butter and chocolate together until melted. (Don't know how to melt it? Okay, the saucepan gets a few inches of water. Increase the heat until it's at a boil. Pop a large glass bowl on top, filled with your chocolate and butter - it'll go faster if these are roughly chopped. Hold the bowl with a potholder, stir with your spare hand). Remove bowl from heat and mix in the flour. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Fold the chocolate/flour mixture into the eggy sugary stuff. Mix until it's all one color. Pour half the batter into the brownie pan. Pop it in the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Pour half the caramel over the top, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the pecans all over the caramel layer. Then carefully dab the rest of the batter over top. It will be stickier and harder to spread, so I sort of dolloped it equally all over and then sort of patted it in place. Give it another 20-23 minutes of cooking. It won't set up completely because of the caramel, but the brownie part should seem baked when you stick in a knife. You should mainly get caramel back. Don't overbake though because that would be yucky. Remove from the pan. Use utensils/plates only if in polite company.
PS: Yeah, you do still have half a recipe of caramel. But that's your business.