Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thoughts From the Kitchen

These past couple weeks have completely thrown me out of my regular routine. I feel that I am just starting to get back on my feet. Thankfully, I finished preparing for Christmas early. I have only a little sewing left to complete before the Christmas season.

Yesterday I finally took the time to try my new mini muffin and mini loaf pans. I baked banana bread and muffins. I took a few banana loaves to my friend, but the rest of the batch has mysteriously disappeared ... I believe the mini muffin pan is a hit! The little muffins are just the perfect size for preschoolers. Next week I plan to bake mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my son's junior kindergarten class.

In other news, our microwave has been on the fritz for a couple of weeks. The turntable stopped turning and food no longer cooks evenly. (Ben has banished me from using the microwave as he's scared it will short out and start a fire.) With all the craziness, we have not had a chance to shop for a new one. Cooking "the old fashioned way" has forced a change in my perspective. I can't simply zap our leftovers for a few minutes!

I am looking forward to buying a new microwave this weekend.

Finally, I'd like to share the following recipe for Turtle Brownies. I baked these a couple of weeks ago. They are decadent. (The recipe cheats a bit because it uses a mix. Shhhh. No one has to know.) I definitely recommend using a silicon 9x9" square pan for these. Cool and refrigerate the brownies before attempting to cut them. I also recommend using fewer caramels and less butter than the recipe calls for. The caramel layer is extremely gooey.

Turtle Brownies

50 caramels (14 oz. package), unwrapped
2/3 C. evaporated milk
1 German chocolate cake mix
3/4 C. butter, melted
1 C. chocolate chips
1 C. chopped pecans

Combine cake mix with melted butter and 1/3 C. evaporated milk. Spread half of the batter in a slightly buttered pyrex lasagna-sized pan or equivalent. (Use a 9x9" silicon pan.) Bake for 8 minutes.

Melt caramels with 1/3 C. evaporated milk in a double boiler over barely simmering water or in the microwave (about 3-4 minutes --- check often and stir).

Remove cake base from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans. Drizzle melted caramel mixture over chips and nuts. Cover with remaining cake batter.

If the batter is difficult to spread, pat blobs of dough into zig-zag pieces to cover the chocolate chip and pecan covered base. Continue baking at 350F for 15-18 minutes. Cool before slicing.

Keep the brownies covered in the fridge as it makes slicing through the caramel layer easier. These brownies freeze well.

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