Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel (and a Surprise Ingredient!)

These brownies have a surprise ingredient - prunes! Prunes, also known as dried plums, are an antioxidant superfood, rich in fiber, vitamins A and K, and potassium. I bought a package of SunSweet prunes to snack on (I love them with some lightly salted almonds) and decided to find a recipe in which to use them. Based on an idea I got from David Lebovitz's recipe for Chocolate Prune Cake, I made prune butter to substitute for part of the butter in the recipe.

To make it even more full of good things, I used a mix of rye flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and pastry flour. The result is a richly dark brownie subtly laced with the prune butter's sticky sweetness and complemented by the crunch of toasted walnuts and a salted caramel drizzle.

This is an adaptation of a Mexican Brownie recipe from Bon Appétit, which incorporates cinnamon and a brown sugar icing. Instead of the icing, I used Trader Joe's "Trader Jacques" Salted Caramel, which I could drink straight from the jar.

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup prune butter (recipe below)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup pastry flour
1 cup dark sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon salted butter
Salted caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 8-inch or other 2-quart baking pan with baking spray.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt bittersweet chocolate and butter; stir in prune butter. Scrape into mixing bowl and cool 5 minutes.

While chocolate mixtures is cooling, melt 1 teaspoon salted butter over low heat in small sauté pan. When butter starts to turn brown, add walnuts and toss in butter for about 1 minute or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.

Whisk sugar into chocolate mixture; mix until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Continue to whisk until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir together flours and salt and add to batter, mixing just until blended. Fold in chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing surface. Bake at 325 degrees until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30-35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then drizzle salted caramel sauce over top. Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Prune Butter
adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe

9 oz pitted prunes (I used SunSweet)
1/3 cup liquid (I used part brandy, part caramel liqueur, part water)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
additional water as needed for blending

Place prunes, cooking liquid, brown sugar, and salt in small saucepan and simmer over low heat until liquid is nearly absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool for 5 minutes then place in small food processor and process with 1 tablespoon or more water as needed to process to fairly smooth and thick consistency. Use in recipe and refrigerate or freeze remainder.


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