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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Strawberry Pretzel Brownies

Who doesn't love a good brownie?

Probably ISIS, and other terrorist groups.

I've certainly got my favorite recipes for the perfect brownie, but many of the ones that I've tried and trusted require a scale to measure out flour/eggs/butter in grams or ounces. I've sort of dug my own grave in that regard, as I have only taken down recipes that have weight as the measure, and I(sadly) have yet to unpack my scale... I also have no earthly idea in which box it's hiding, but my brownie craving couldn't wait.

Fortunately, this is a recipe for brownies that I've found works just fine using volume versus weight as it's measure. This is a modified recipe from the GeekGod of Cooking, Mr. Alton Brown.

Strawberry Pretzel Brownies

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tsp cocoa powder(I like Hershey's)
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp good vanilla extract/almond extract
  • 8 oz(2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 large strawberries
  • Powdered sugar A/N
  • Pretzels A/N(sticks or twists are fine)
Maybe if I mention "Calphalon" enough, they'll send me some pans
for free?? What do you think? Guys?
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and ready a pan. I have an absolutely fantastic Calphalon pan that's nonstick, so I didn't have to do anything to mine. If you don't have a Calphalon nonstick pan, though, go ahead and pop some parchment paper into your own pan of choice.  

Slice the strawberries thinly and dip each slice in a bit of powdered sugar, then place them on a parchment/wax paper sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until soft and relatively dry. I used a silpat mat for my brownies, as I wasn't sure how sticky they would end up being. 

The idea is you want them to seep out liquid, so they don't make "pools" in your brownies later on. If you have a dehydrator of some sort in your possession, however, feel free to use that. You can also use store-bought dried strawberries if you prefer, but I had fresh strawberries, so I figured "why not?"

This, of course, can be done with a whole pint of strawberries and  have the excess saved for later.
Combine your sugars and eggs in the bowl of your standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Stir for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2 minutes, until thick and yellow-colored.

Combine your flour, salt, and cocoa powder and dump everything in. Stir gently for about 10 turns, then stop and scrape your bowl down, before letting go for another 10 - 12 turns. Scrape once more and add the vanilla/almond extract and butter. Stir to combine; it should be shiny, like a little chocolate river.

Now that you have your brownie batter, scrape it all into a sheet pan and spread it evenly using a small spatula, making sure you get the corners.

Kolika's Special Tip: Want extra gooey brownies? Pop your batter-filled pan in the fridge and let it rest anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. The flour granules will "soak" up the moisture/fat in the butter and eggs, and make it so unbelievably gooey, you'll almost pee your pants when you try some. But if you don't want to wait that long, just a 15 minute rest in the fridge will do, just so the butter in the batter firms up.

Next, lay your pretzels in a pattern so that each piece will get some pretzel bit on it, and do the same with your strawberries. This looks really cool with the twist pretzels, but all I had were the sticks. You can also use slivered almonds, dried apricots, Hershey's kisses, crushed peppermint candies, and even crushed toffee candies to sprinkle onto your brownie batter. Nestle your toppings of choice nice and set into the batter so it won't move when you end up cutting it later on, and pop into your preheated oven for 15 minutes.

I think we're ready to go at this point...

When your timer is up, shut off the oven, and reset the timer for another 10, leaving the brownies in the pan to gently sort of bake in the residual heat. An overcooked brownie is a tragedy, so this allows it to carryover cook gently. Remove your pan from the oven and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before removing any from the pan. You can lift it up by the parchment sheet, or you can just cut and serve.

When you have a nice nonstick pan, you want to treat it like a nice nonstick pan. I use a little pizza/pasta wheel cutter that I picked up at Sur la Table for under $5. If you chill your brownies, though, you can easily just turn them over onto a platter by flipping it over and just letting them fall out. Once flipped, pop a cutting board onto the bottom and flip again, so that your topping side is now up, and your brownies are now on your cutting board. Simple? Of course it is!

While we're talking handy tools, can I just say how important it is to have a small, hand-held offset spatula, like this Ateco? Not only is it perfect for spreading out cake/brownie batter, but excellent for frosting cakes and picking up cookies, brownies, just about anything off sheet trays... I also use it for fish, sometimes, in a pinch, when I'm cooking on the stovetop. I found this one on Amazon for like $6, and it had free shipping thanks to AmazonPrime, which has paid for itself like ten-times over at this point.

Serve your brownies warm and fresh from the oven, if at all possible, or pop it in the microwave for a 12 second nuke on 70% power. The salty of the brownie plus the sharp note of the strawberry play great against the sheer fatty decadence of this recipe. Enjoy it with a cold mug of milk. Not because you chose the #MugLife, but the #MugLife chose you.

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