Carmel Pecan Brownies
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Caramel Pecan Brownies (GF Option) Makes 24
These brownies are decadent! Even without the caramel topping, they are delicious and eaily made gluten free by substitutting gluten free flour for the all-purpose flour.

The caramel is a little tricky, but if you are careful not to agitate the sugar and keep the sides washed down with a pastry brush and water as it is cooking, you should have no problem. You could also try melting individually wrapped caramels if you don't want to try making the caramel from scratch. If you choose to melt caramels, I'd suggest about 20 unwrapped caramels with 1-2 Tablespoons of heavy cream, melted over low heat in a medium saucepan.

I first saw this recipe in my favorite cooking magazine,
Fine Cooking, and have adapted it to include the gluten free option.

Brownies
12 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or cup gluten free flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (make sure it is gluten free)
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

Caramel Topping
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
cup water
cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. pure vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp. salt

Chocolate Garnish
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Brownies
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13x2-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.

2. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium heavy-duty saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to mix the eggs until well blended. Gradually whisk in the sugar and then whisk until well blended. Add the melted chocolate mixture, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk in the flour and cocoa powder just until blended. Stir in the pecans and then scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into an even layer with a spatula.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes.

Caramel Topping
1. Fill a small bowl or glass measuring cup with about 6 ounces of water put a heat proof pastry brush in it; this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.

2. In a heavy-duty 2-quart saucepan, stir the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water just to combine. Just stir the ingredients once to distribute the moisture, but DO NOT stir during the heating process. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals.

3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan, until the mixture starts to color around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes.

4. Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots. Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium amber, about 30 seconds more. (Once the mixture begins to color, it will darken very quickly, so keep an eye on it.)

5. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream—the mixture will bubble up furiously. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the butter and gently whisk until completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour the caramel topping over the brownies, using a spatula to spread it evenly over the entire top. Let the brownies cool for 30 minutes.

6. Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small piping bag fitted with a 1/8-inch plain tip. Drizzle the chocolate over the brownies in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Refrigerate.

7. Cut the brownies into 24 rectangles.

8. If you keep the brownies covered and refrigerated, they should be fine for two weeks – but I don’t think you can resist them for that long!

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