aka Karen's Birthday Brownie Bars
Reprinted with permission from King Arthur Flour
, originally appeared in the Winter 2005 (vol. VXI no. 1) issue of The Baking Sheet.
According to the notes, this bar was going to be in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, and ended up there in pieces, but not as the whole: It's the "Go-Anywhere Shortbread" (p112), the "On-the-Fence Brownies" (p158), plus melted caramel and pecans.
We named them Doom Bars because of their enormous mass: A 9x13 pan feels like it's full of bricks. My comments in (italics)Shortbread Layer
1C (2 sticks) unsalted butter (wait, there's more below)
3/4C (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (they say optional, that's crazy talk)
2 1/3C (9 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flourBrownie Layer
1C (2 sticks) unsalted butter (we're up to a pound)
2 1/4C (15 3/4 oz) sugar
1 1/4C (3 3/4 oz) Dutch-process cocoa (the darker the better)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2C (6 1/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1C (4 oz) chopped pecans
1C (6 oz) chocolate chipsTopping
2/3C (6 1/4 oz) vanilla caramel, melted and mixed with (use more like 8 oz)
1 Tbs cream
1C (4 oz) toasted pecans, coarsely choppedInstructions
For the shortbread layer:
Preheat oven to 300F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and vanilla, then beat in the flour.
Press the dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until it's golden brown around the edges. Remove it from the oven, and set it aside to cool as you prepare the brownie batter.
Preheat oven to 350F
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110-120F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it.
Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, to make a shiny top crust.
Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth; then add the flour, nuts and chips, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter atop the baked shortbread in the 9x13-inch pan.
Bake 28-30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (Sue always likes her brownies a little wetter than this)(Towards the end of the baking time)
melt the caramel over very low heat on the stovetop, or in a microwave. When it's soft, stir in the cream or milk. When the brownies feel set in the center, remove them from the oven, and top with melted caramel, then the nuts.
Yield: 24 bars (For giants! More like 48)
What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
-- Lin Yutang