Once in a while a recipe makes a serious impression on me. Recipes get stuck in my head all the time, and I usually make them, feel satisfied and move on. This time though, I made these brownies within days of finding the recipe even though it was during AP testing week. No really, I took my AP Statistics exam, came home, and made brownies without skipping a beat. The super sweet taste was a nice way to wake up my haggard brain and let me momentarily forget the sense of failure associated with that horrible, horrible exam. My parents, sister, and I devoured them in two or three days, and I’ve been craving them ever since.
The best part about these brownies is that it requires no cracking of eggs, careful measuring of leaveners or melting of chocolate. I usually love intricate recipes as I’m quite methodical when I step into my kitchen, but this is the perfect recipe for those days that my brain is reduced to mush. Make them for someone studying for an exam, someone who passed an exam they spent months stressing over, or even better: make them for someone who feels like they failed an exam they spent months stressing over. It will make them feel better for a short while. I know I did.
One package of caramels. My stroke of genius was getting my favourites, Reisens, which are chocolate caramels covered in chocolate. These replaced the caramels and chocolate chips in the original recipe, and streamlined the process. Now that’s only 4 ingredients. You could always add more, like coconut (which I did), chopped nuts, dried fruit, M&M’s, oats, or maybe ramen if you are a college student.
Combine the cake mix and milk in a bowl. Next time I make these, and there will be a next time, I think I’ll use half the amount of evaporated milk and use regular milk for the rest. I might even leave out the evaporated milk from the brownie completely and use all regular milk to reduce the sweetness.
Next, melt some butter in a bowl.
Add this to the cake mix and milk and combine. Side note: It’s particularly helpful having a sous chef (aka older sister) to help you slowly pour melted butter so that you can get a good action shot. Thanks Em! 🙂
The mixture will be thick like cookie dough, not like brownie batter. You’ll want to combine the main ingredients before you add the special ingredients of your choosing.
Once it’s combined, cut the dough in half and press half into a greased baking dish. I made sure to make a lip around te edge for that melted caramel-y goodness that was soon to be added. Put this in the oven to get all good and cooked.
While that’s cooking, put a bowl of the caramels and some more evaporated milk on a pot of boiling water. You need to use evaporated milk here to get the correct texture. I used the double boiler method, but you may be able to get away with microwaving this if you are extremely careful, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
See how that edge prevents the caramel from touching the sides? this helps make the cutting and cleaning process much easier! On a clean surface (like a cutting board) you’ll need to roll out the other half of the dough into a shape roughly the size and shape of your dish.
Carefully place it on top of the caramel. If any gaps remain, just se any leftover dough from your mixing bowl to patch up the holes.
Once it’s cooked you come to the hardest part: The waiting. You need to let this cool to room temperature and then put it in a fridge so that the caramel can become chewy rather than runny. I highly recommend licking the caramel bowl/spoon to help make it through these difficult hours. Yes, HOURS. 😦
The original recipe came from Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) and you can find it here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/05/knock-you-naked-brownies/
Here’s my version with tweaks:
Post-AP Stats Caramel Brownies
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- ⅓ cups Evaporated Milk (or, if you don’t like sugar, try regular milk)
- ½ cups Evaporated Milk (don’t substitute regular milk here!)
- ½ cups Butter
- 1 package Chocolate Caramels (or regular caramels + chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, mix cake mix, 1/3 cup milk, and melted butter. Stir until combined. Mixture will be as thick as cookie dough.
Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base.
Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square the same size at the pan. Set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.