Every afternoon our newsroom becomes a porous entity. People pass in and out of the station’s backdoor like it’s nobody’s business, all in pursuit of one thing: a mid-afternoon snack. That snack usually comes in the form of some bagged goodie bought at the Shopper’s Drug Mart across the street from the station (my co-workers and I are convinced that we are the most frequent visitors to this location and are upset that none of the cashiers remember us and say something like “oh yes, I do remember you! You do have an Optimum card!).
The afternoon snacking binge is normally initiated by a single person (this is an alternating role) and then, contagious as a yawn, we are all suddenly in need of Smart Food popcorn, hummus and carrots, seasoned peanuts and Licorice nibbs. The latter is my vice, and on a number of occasions I’ve found myself having inhaled the bag’s contents before even making it back to my desk.
So there…I am a reasonably healthy eater, but I am also an unhealthy snack fiend.
These brownies were inspired by the most recent of my Shopper’s Drug Mart trips in which, having previously managed to fend off the urge to purchase an expensive “Excellence” series Lindt chocolate bar, I finally gave in when my co-worker and friend Jen asked if I wanted to go splitsies on a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. We chose two of our favourites – the dark chocolate sea salt and the milk chocolate crunchy caramel bar – and proceeded to (or at least I did anyways) stuff our faces with a sickening amount of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. This posed a problem. For anyone who has ever been required to speak into a microphone, you’ll know that eating dairy in any form is not a good idea before doing any sort of recording. This in mind, I had to drink about a gallon of water before I was able to voice my narration for the next day’s news piece. Radio reporting + copious amounts of chocolate = not an excellent combination, sadly.
The idea for these brownies didn’t fall too far from the tree, and are a wonderful marriage of that delicious caramel/sea salt/chocolate threesome. A special thank-you to my co-worker Erik who suggested this week’s dessert be something in square-form (inherently non-photogenic, but I tried).
These did the trick in keeping any afternoon Shopper’s Drug Mart trips at bay BUT did little to quell my daytime eating habits. I may have had five of these on Friday. That’s just how good they were.
Recipe: Caramel sea salt brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
– 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
– 12 ounce semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
– 1 1/3 cup sugar
– 4 large eggs
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract
– 3/4 cup Skor toffee chips
– 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
– Caramel sauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter the paper. Set aside.
Place finely chopped 12 ounces on semisweet chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl; set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Remove pan from heat, and set aside. Alternatively: put chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 20 second intervals (stirring in between each interval) until melted.
Sift together the flour, cayenne, and half of sea salt (3/4 tsp), and set aside.
Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and chocolate mixture, and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of Skor chips.
Pour into dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 tsp sea salt and remaining 1/4 cup Skor chips. Bake until set, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. When cool, drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired (I used store-bought stuff).
Makes enough to serve one hungry newsroom.