brownies with caramel sauce

or the post where i get a little preachy...

Most of the time when I do a post, I try to write a funny little antidote and then hit you with a recipe and then go about my merry little day. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

But today I want to preach a little.

I know when most people hear Thomas Keller they either go, 'who?' or 'I can't make his stuff'. I can say I really don't blame you if you are looking at The French Laundry Cookbook or even his Sous Vide one. I mean the heft of these books, the serious thunk they make on the kitchen counter when you set them down is intimidating and it doesn't help that they are the size of academic textbooks. Those books are just so serious.

So scary.

...or that's what she said. (blame watching a marathon of The Office when I was sick)

If you break them down into a series of steps, it isn't so bad. Sure there is shit you just think is too persnickety to do but trust me when I say it's well worth it in the end.

Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home is home cooking/family meals but brought up to eleven because he could.

Despite it's size and weight, this book is fun, happy, and above everything else easy to cook from. Let me repharse that and say pretty much easy to cook from because the first recipe I cooked from Ad Hoc was the hardest (even The New York Times called Keller out on it.) but resulted in the best chicken soup and dumplings I have ever had. The work, frustration, and more importantly, THE DISHES, were worth it.

When most bloggers cook from a Keller book, they will not type the recipe in their post. The enormous respect for Keller, his food, technique and maybe the shear pain in the ass it is to sit at a computer screen and type a recipe is enough to deter us all. All I know is that it seems to be a unspoken code... which I am going to break once again.

I want to show you, step-by-step, a recipe so you can understand how easy it is to cook from Ad Hoc at Home. Hopefully by the end of this post, you'll be encouraged to spend your hard earned money on this book.

ad hoc at home: brownies with caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9 square pan.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Take 3 sticks of butter cut them into 1 tablespoon pieces. Melt half of the butter in saucepan. Place remaining butter into a medium sized bowl.

Pour melted butter oven the bowl of butter and stir to melt.

In the bowl of stand mixer, mix together eggs and sugar.

It should look pale and very thick.

Mix in vanilla.

Add chocolate and mix to combine.

Spread batter into a pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.


3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
3/4 pound, 3 sticks, unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste if you've got it (i do not)
6 ounces of 61 to 64% chocolate, chopped into chip sized pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9 baking pan. Set aside.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Put remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir to melt. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together eggs and sugar on medium speed for about three minutes or until thick and very pale. Mix in vanilla. On low speed, add one third of the dry ingredients, the one third of wet ingredients, and continue alternating between the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick poked in the center comes out with a few crumbs. If the tooth pick comes out wet. Test again because you may have hit a chocolate chip. Bake longer if needed.

Cool brownies in pan until room temperature. Cut into 12 rectangles and serve with caramel sauce. Recipe below.

caramel sauce:

3/4 cup of plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, warmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and stir in water. Set over medium high heat and bring to a simmer, then adjust heat as necessary to simmer and cook without stirring, for 30 to 35 minutes, until caramel is a rich amber color.

If you want to check the color, use a small spoon to drop a small amount on a white plate. You want a dark caramel so the finished sauce will be a rich caramel color.

Remove from heat and SLOWLY whisk in the cream. (IT WILL BUBBLE UP) If the sauce seizes, stir over the heat to slowly remelt any hardened caramel. Whisk in the butter.

Serve over brownies. You will have extra so put it into a covered container and place in the refrigerator, it will last a month. Use it in your coffee, put it over ice cream, eat it straight out of the fridge.

Tasting Notes: Seriously, this is easy. Take the time and make something that is not out of the box and is from a very gifted chef that is trying to make good food accessible to everyone and remember not to stick your finger into hot caramel sauce no matter how good it looks.


Rebecca (Foodie With Family) said...

Oh man. This is brilliantly written, presented and it's making me seriously hungry. More than that, it makes me want that book (more than I did before... so it's all relative.) I love it and I love your photography.

pam said...

Sorry, but your sink full of dishes settled my mind on the chicken. But the brownies...definitely doable.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I am one of those people who would eat the sauce straight from the fridge. Oh hell yeah. Beautiful post and very informative. I need to get that book.

SaintTigerlily said...

To post or not to post the Keller recipe - I've never thought of it as an unspoken rule of blogging, but I know what you mean. I would like to take this opportunity to point out two things:

1. I don't post his recipes for many reasons, some of which you touched on (looooooong. Who has TIME to post those recipes!) but my number one reason is because I truly want to bully people into buying the books. That said, I don't think there is anything wrong with posting the recipes, I just thought it was interesting that you brought it up - just because it is sort of this "thing". Weird.

2. Those are some SEXY brownies lady. Gimme. See also: Nom.

Mayberry Magpie said...

I've never bought a Thomas Keller cookbook. I might someday -- but I'm still intimidated. Well, not so much intimidated as just not up for the chore. But then you're telling me not all his recipes are chores, right? Hmmmmmmmm.

I get annoyed posting Martha recipes because they seem too damn long, so what does that say about me? And those nachos I made yesterday? As much a pain in the butt to type as to make.

I think there's a lesson here: no pain, no gain. Damn. :-)

PS I'm IGNORING the brownies. One cupcake blew my wad yesterday so I must put these out of my mind for 22 more weeks.

maybelle's mom said...

loved your photo recipe. the aesthetic was fantastico. if I didn't have a new years resolution not to get cookbooks, I would do it.

Kristin @ Going Country said...

I've done that. Sticking my finger in caramel, I mean. Not so smart sometimes, that's me.

noble pig said...

Fabo. I love the ad hoc book and these brownies...oh my woman, you outdid yourself.

Melissa said...

Somehow I'm not surprised that Rebecca took the words right out of my mouth. This is a great post!

Flirting with Flour said...

The dishes. Yes. That is something I am very familiar with. Every time I bake my kitchen becomes a disaster zone. Beautiful pictures and fantastic recipe!

ladyberd said...

The caramel sauce looks like a great addition. I just made the ad Hoc brownies but I'll have to add the sauce next time. (A perfect excuse to make them again soon!)

I'm Cassie.... said...

YUUUMMM!!! Ok, I sent you a message on your FB page or discussion page or whatever it is, asking you if you owned an Ad Hoc cookbook and if you recommend one-don't bother answering it because now I know! This is the cookbook I saw at Barnes & Noble this week and was sooo tempted to buy it. Thanks, now I'm sold :)

Elena (Running in Heels After Child) said...

Those look so good I will have to try and make them. I make a caramel brownie that is maybe not the best ever but easy and good. I use the ghirardelli chocolate recipe (off the coco container) then I add chocolate caramel candy bars and coconut. So good and easy.