My best friend's family in Seattle has a cookie swap every year that even I used to look forward to because I knew that for the weeks leading up to Christmas, their freezer would be chock-full of all the cookies I could dream of - cranberry bliss bars, gingerbread men, shortbread, peanut butter buckeyes, etc. – all the hits, all the classics.
I have attended a couple of cookie swaps myself this year, and I am so happy that the tradition of gathering to share treats is still alive and well, even in New York City. It is such a fun and low-key way to gather around the holidays, and everyone gets to go home with an exciting variety of goodies they may not have made otherwise. Now I have my own freezer full of cookies, which I have learned is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing - if you come over to my place for the next couple of weeks, you are sure to be served some excellent cookies. Curse - cookies for every meal = very tight pants...I have one more swap on my calendar this season, and I am going to switch up my usual offering for these decadent brownies. I’ll package up the caramel sauce in cute little jars so people can drizzle at their own leisure.
This post was created in partnership with Reynolds Kitchens. For more holiday fun and recipes, check out their Endless Table here.
Double Chocolate Caramel Brownies
Makes 16-24 brownies
These brownies are of the rich and fudge variety, dense and super chocolaty. Since it is the holidays, I added something a little extra in the form of espresso spiked caramel sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream to one of these and you have a ridiculously good treat, or combine all three for a seriously killer brownie sundae. Bonus points if you warm up the brownies before topping them with cold ice cream and warm caramel sauce. They keep in the freezer (un-sauced) well wrapped in plastic wrap or foil for about a month, coincidentally, they also taste great frozen.
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (not chips)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350ºF and line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan with Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil, making sure there is a bit of overhang on all sides. Lightly butter the foil.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl set over a double boiler. Stir the mixture occasionally until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is warm to the touch.
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at time, then add in the vanilla. Fold in the flour until just combined, then fold in the chopped chocolate.
Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached 25-30 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan, then use the foil as handles to lift the brownies out of the pan.
Make the caramel sauce: Combine the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water, along with the butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar melts and turns deep amber in color. Remove the pan from the heat then whisk in the cream, instant espresso, and vanilla extract. Let the sauce cool to room temperature then drizzle over the brownies just before serving.