It takes a village to create a recipe. Or, at least the inspiration for one.
King Arthur Flour has recently relaunched its community site, The Baking Circle. This long-time virtual gathering place has attracted bakers from all over the world, and generated discussions ranging from things to do with zucchini to recipes for THE BEST sandwich buns (a discussion never resolved - though we've had fun trying!)
Looking for inspiration from the community, I decided to check out the recipe section – see what people were posting.
When you click into the recipes section and scroll to the bottom, you'll find what's called a “tag cloud” - a group of words that people used to categorize their recipes, as they posted them. The larger the word, the more people have used it to describe their recipe.
Early on, this is what the community site's tag cloud looked like. Brownies. Chocolate. Blondies. Bars.
It didn't take me long to remember a recipe I'd worked on about 10 years ago: Butterscotch Chocolate Brownies.
Wait a minute – brownies are chocolate. Blondies are vanilla. And never the twain shall meet.
These brownies aren't deep-dark chocolate; with just half a cup of melted chocolate chips in the batter, and nearly a pound of brown sugar, the predominant flavor comes from the caramel-y brown sugar. And the butterscotch chips. Add toasted pecans, and you've got a butter-pecan bar that's still chocolate-y enough to be called a brownie. It's more of a milk chocolate experience, but that's exactly the degree of chocolate you want here, so that the vanilla and butterscotch flavors can shine through.
The small tag cloud pictured above was just the beginning. Since its "soft launch" July 31, the community has grown to include hundreds of recipes and discussions, with more being added every day.
Not only that - the recipe tag cloud has grown as well.
As you can see, brownies and bars are holding their own in the "most talked about" category. So let's join the crowd, and bake up a batch of Butterscotch Chocolate Brownies.
First, the salted pecans. Put 2/3 cup pecan halves (coarsely chopped, if they're very large) in a bowl. Melt 2 teaspoons butter with a heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt; pour over the pecans, tossing to coat.
Bake the nuts in the preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 9 minutes, till they're a rich, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and turn them out of the pan to cool slightly while you make the brownie batter.
In a microwave-proof bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt together 1/2 cup butter and ½ cup chocolate chips, stirring to melt the chips.
Stir till smooth, and set aside.
Here's another of my favorite ingredients: butter-rum flavor, perfect in these brownies. Butterscotch would be fine, too; as would vanilla-butternut. These are extra-strong flavors, so you don't need to use a whole lot; usually 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon is plenty to deliver a nice hit of flavor.
Put the following in a bowl:
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar, dark or light
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla; OR 6 drops butter-rum or butterscotch flavor, preferred for best flavor
*If you use salted butter, reduce the salt to ¼ teaspoon.
Add the chocolate/butter mixture.
Beat to combine.
Add 2 large eggs, beating till smooth.
Add 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, stirring till smooth.
Add the pecans, and 2/3 cup butterscotch chips.
Stir till just combined. You want to work quickly; stirring the still-warm batter too long will melt the chips.
Scoop the stiff batter into the pan. Use a spatula (or your wet fingers) to spread it to the edges of the pan, and level it as best you can.
Bake the bars for 22 to 25 minutes; the edges will just barely be pulling away from the edges of the pan, and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
Immediately loosen the brownies from the pan all around the edge...
...and gently press down the edges; this will help prevent tall edges and a sunken center.
See how light this chocolate is? Definitely not a deep-dark fudge brownie. These have their own persona.
Cool, and cut into squares.
Butterscotch chips, salty pecans, chocolate... oh yeah.
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