Originally posted February 2013.
I moved out of my parents’ house, the house I spent my entire life in, in August of 2009. I don’t count college, because although I lived on campus at a school about an hour away from home, I still had a room at my childhood home. I still had a bed there, collages and photographs on the walls, clothes in the closet, and I returned there many weekends, and every single winter and summer break. While I lived away for the majority of the year, a dorm was never my “home,” no matter how comfortable it was or how much fun I had. Home was the place where I’d spent my entire childhood, learned how to ride a bike, thrown an oversized pink-and-purple softball against the wall with the steadfast hope that my female-equivalent-of-Little-League softball coach would let me pitch just ONE game. When I think about it, that house will always be home, in some way, although literally within 24 hours of moving out, my sister high-tailed it into my bedroom and painted my once soft yellow walls pumpkin orange. So…there’s that.
I’m getting sidetracked. In August of 2009, I moved into a two bedroom apartment about 20 minutes way from my childhood home with one of my best friends. We lived there for two years and, in spite of the wildebeests living above us, we had a great time. Chelsea is kind, funny and easygoing, and I’m thrilled that we meshed as well as roommates as we did as friends.
However, in the summer of 2011, I moved in with the love of my life, and while I couldn’t be happier with the life we’re building together, I do miss hanging out with Chelsea several times a week, watching 30 Rock (good GOD, Lemon!) and Parks & Rec every Thursday, curling up on the couch to plot our own killer sitcom, and lavishing attention on our her petulant, adorable bunny rabbit, Mr. T. We did make a pact to have date nights at LEAST once a month, and in spite of our crazy schedules and job changes, we’ve managed to adhere to that pact pretty well, which makes me really happy because I’m generally terrible at keeping in touch with people. Seriously, if I lived in an age where Facebook wasn’t a thing, I’d probably be a hermit.
The most recent time we got together we, at her suggestion, drank wine and baked. Which is amazing, because Chelsea is a phenomenal baker. I’ve mentioned that my baking skills are mediocre at best, but Chelsea…good lord. She makes amazing cupcakes. And cookies. And icing. And everything, basically. Being her roommate was also awesome because it meant I got to eat all of the goodies she whipped up. (Seriously, Chelsea, if you’re reading this, can you make that strawberry cake thing again?) Anyhow, after some deliberation about what to make, we decided on salted caramel brownies, using the recipe from the trusty, always-delicious Smitten Kitchen.
These brownies were fantastic. Seriously. Chelsea and I were sitting at my kitchen table and literally exclaiming with delight as we wolfed them down. The pan did not last 24 hours. I’m attributing that to Chelsea’s baking magic.
Salted caramel brownies (from smittenkitchen)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt (or 1/8 tsp table salt, more to taste)
3 tbsp heavy cream
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt (or 1/8 tsp table salt)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
To make the caramel: Set a square of parchment paper over a plate. In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt your sugar, stirring if necessary to break up large chunks.
By the time it is all melted, if should be a nice copper color; if not, cook until it is. Remove from heat and stir in butter, then stir in your cream and salt and return saucepan to the stove over medium-high heat, bringing it back to a simmer, melting any sugar that solidified. Cook bubbling caramel for a few minutes more, until it is a shade darker. Pour out onto parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer. Leave it there until solidified — this didn’t take us long, maybe 15 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, or when your caramel is almost firm, make your brownies. Heat oven to 350F. Butter an eight-by-eight square baking pan. In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together – I actually did this in a Pyrex pie dish, which worked out perfectly.
Off the heat, stir the chocolate-butter mix until it’s smooth and completely melted. Whisk in your sugar, then your eggs, one at a time, then add your vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.
Once your caramel is relatively solidified, remove it from the freezer and chop it up. Fold most of it into your batter, then scrape your batter into your buttered baking dish, spreading until mostly even. Sprinkle the remaining caramel bits on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
(And no, for the record, I am not a horrible dog-mommy and did not feed Sam any brownies, but he was super happy to have Chelsea come and visit. He loves her.)