Caramel-Pecan Brownies

A variation of my Marionberry-Walnut Brownies, I made these for a Chautauqua presentation at the Douglas County Library tonight. Half of the caramel was baked into the batter, creating faultlines of gooey goodness; the rest was drizzled on top of the baked brownies.

Caramel-Pecan Brownies
1 pound unsalted butter
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
4 cups (1# 12 ounces) sugar
8 large farm-fresh local eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 ounces)
1 (11.5 oz.) package Ghirardelli 60% Dark Chocolate Chips
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
1 jar (8 to 12 ounces) caramel topping or caramels melted and thinned with a bit of milk

Line a 12 x 17-inch jelly roll pan with unbleached parchment or grease and flour well. Preheat the oven to 350 degreees.

In a large, heavy saucepan melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate over very low heat just until melted. Stir in the sugar, turn off the heat and let stand for 5 or 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted.

Whisk the eggs, salt and vanilla together in a very large bowl. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until well-combined. Gently fold in the flour until no dry particles are visible. Pour into the prepared pan.

Scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the batter. Using a rubber scraper or the back of a spoon, gently smooth the top so the chips are covered with batter.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Heat the open jar of caramel topping in the microwave for about 1 minute, until slightly softened. (Alternativley, heat the unwrapped caramels with a tablespoon or two of milk). Stir well and then drizzle half of the warm caramel all over the brownie batter. Reserve the remaining caramel.

Place pan on the center rack of the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Bake for exactly 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Drizzle remaining caramel over the top of baked brownies. Cool completely.

Brownies will be easier to cut if covered tightly after cooling and then refrigerated overnight. I loosen the edges, slide a large pancake turner under the parchment and then lift the entire piece out onto the counter. This makes them easy to cut into uniform squares without scratching up the sides of the pan.

Makes 48 small or 24 large brownies. These freeze very well!

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