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Pink Carnation Cookery: Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes

For this month’s adventure in Pink Carnation cookery, Christine brings us… Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes in honor of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!

passionI cannot tell you how excited I am about these. Caramel and chocolate are among my favorite combos (chocolate and peanut butter are also up there, but work less well in latte form). Grande caramel mochas have fueled me through the writing of at least one of my books.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Miss Gwen needed a little chocolate/caramel snack to help her along at points during the writing of her 1806 blockbuster hit, The Convent of Orsino….

Without further ado, Christine’s molten caramel brownie cakes!

Without giving away too much, we all learned in The Passion of the Purple Plumeria that Miss Gwen is full of secrets. Like Miss Gwen, these brownies have a secret too, but this secret is caramel.

This recipe for Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes was taken from Christina Marsigliese’s blog. The original recipe called for peanut butter as well as caramel. I skipped the peanut butter. The blog also contains a link to a caramel recipe, but I used one I’ve used in the past, from the New York Times. The video is really helpful but doesn’t tell you how long it’ll take. It took me about 15-20 minutes this time, but the first time I tried it, it was more like 30 minutes.

Brownie ingredients:

3 oz baking chocolate (I used semisweet)
6 tbsp butter (it’ll melt faster if they’re cut up into 1 tbsp pieces)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
(the original recipe also includes 1/4 tsp salt, but she didn’t actually incorporate that anywhere in the recipe, so I’m leaving it out)

Caramel sauce ingredients:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
another 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Brownie directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
2. Set up a double boiler with a heatproof bowl and a pot with 1/2 inch simmering water.
3. Stir together the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in the double boiler until melted and smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs enough to break and blend the yolks.
5. Add the sugars to the eggs and whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth and thickened.
6. Whisk vanilla extract and chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth.
7. Whisk flour into mixture, just long enough for everything to become well blended.
8. Set aside mixture while you make the caramel sauce.

Caramel sauce directions:

1. Heat a pan until it is very hot.
2. On low heat, sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar all around the pan and shake the pan so sugar is evenly distributed. Sugar will quickly start to melt.
3. Add the second 1/3 cup of sugar.
4. Swirl the pan every so often to make sure the sugar cooks evenly.
5. When the sugar is dark brown, it’s ready (the video says until it’s the color of an Irish setter, but I’m not a dog person so I have no idea what that color is).
6. Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream. Turn the heat back on.
7. The caramel may try to ball up, but keep stirring it around in the cream. Once the caramel is dissolved and smooth, add the vanilla extract and salt.
8. Once the caramel is syrupy and thick, but a little thinner than you would want it, remove from heat and pour into heatproof container.

This is a slow process and requires you to keep a close eye on the pan so make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Not particularly difficult, just requires some caution. This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of caramel sauce, which is far more than you need for the brownies, but plenty of other uses for delicious caramel sauce!

Combining the parts:

1. Fill each cup of the muffin pan about halfway with the brownie mixture.
2. Add about a teaspoon of the caramel sauce to the center of each cup.
3. Using a spoon, cover up the caramel with the brownie mixture as best you can. Or if you’re not going for the molten effect, use a toothpick to swirl the caramel into the brownie.
4. Put in the oven at 325 degrees until slightly puffed. Original recipe says about 13 minutes. Mine took more like 25-30 minutes, but that may be because I was using a silicone pan.
5. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

For some reason, I could only make 9 cakes out of this recipe, even with the cups filled halfway. The molten effect will only happen when they’re fresh out of the oven. Afterwards, it will be more fudge-y. The brownies in general were pretty fudge-y.

The brownie batter had thickened up a bit while I was making the caramel sauce, so I would recommend creating a well in the individual cups before pouring in the caramel sauce. My sauce ran all over and it made it harder to try to cover up the sauce. Mine definitely came out more marbled than molten, but they seemed to be a success – I came home from work the next day and my husband had eaten all of them.

Interested in more molten lava cakes? Buzzfeed has this fantastic list!

Thank you so much, Christine! I meant to make these this weekend, but circumstances (and a small person) intervened. But, at some point soon, they will be mine! And when I make them, I’ll post the pictures here and on Facebook….

(Miss Gwen not included.)

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