Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pretzel Crusted Brownies

Way back in March, my mom invited my cousins, sister-in-law, aunts, a couple of her friends, and me to a Tricky Tray fundraiser a coworker of hers was involved with. While it was a fun night, not one of us won a single thing. We made up for the losses by enjoying some wine and lots of bad-for-you snacks. I decided to give these Pretzel Crusted Brownies a try for the event:

Source: The Avid Appetite
I love the combination of salty and sweet and the added crunch of the pretzels intrigued me. I have never made brownies from scratch before and Shannon warned me that she has never had any luck with them so I was a little nervous about how they would taste. 

I started by making the pretzel crust: crushing up a bunch of pretzels (I used the plastic bag/meat tenderizer method), mixing with melted butter and sugar and baking it in a foil lined pan.

After about 10 minutes in the oven, I was left with this delicious looking (and smelling!) crust:

As per Rachel's instructions, I put it in the fridge to cool (resting on a towel). Then I mixed up the brownies using the same recipe she used (adapted from BAKERS One Bowl Brownies:

I have never been good at melting chocolate in the microwave. That's why my cake pops always come out horribly and anything I try to dip looks awful. I followed the instructions and let the butter melt using 10 second intervals, but it never really got the chocolate to melt completely. I kept mixing and mixing but eventually gave up and just completed the recipe.

You can't really tell, but there's chunks of unmelted chocolate in there.

Right before they went in the oven. 
Once I had the all the ingredients in though, the batter seemed to set up nicely. Here they are fresh out of the oven:

And after I let them cool and started cutting them up:

See that delicious layer of pretzels?

I halved the butter cream recipe knowing that I always wind up with extra frosting in my fridge and because I wanted to leave some un-iced in case anyone wanted them plain. 

The Verdict: They were alright. The crust was delicious and I slightly under-cooked them (which is how I prefer brownies) but they almost didn't seem chocolatey enough. I am not sure if that was my fault for not getting the chocolate to melt completely, or if I am just not a fan of homemade brownies. Now, that's not to say I didn't eat them. I did. They didn't really get touched at the Tricky Tray because there were so many other goodies there so I brought them home. And proceeded to eat the majority of them over the weekend until I finally had to throw them out so I wouldn't gain 100 lbs. 

Things to Consider: I would probably get the food processor out to crunch up the pretzels next time. Doing it by hand took forever and I think it would have been a little nicer if I got them a little smaller. I also would like to give this idea another try using a box mix and seeing if I like it any better. As I said above, they weren't bad, just not "worth" the calories to me - I would rather a nice thick, gooey, chocolatey brownie. I did love the foil method though - it made getting the brownies out really easy and cleanup was much easier too.

Anyone have a better brownie recipe for me to try? I have read that once you master making brownies from scratch you can't go back to eating them from a box-mix, but so far Shannon and I haven't found the right recipe!

Pretzel Crusted Brownies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
from The Avid Appetitefor the crust:
4 C pretzels
¾ C unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
½ C sugar

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 13x9” baking pan with foil, letting some hang over the edges. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter and flour.
  • Process pretzels in a food processor until chopped small, but not too finely. Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave. 
  • Transfer the pretzels to a mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar.
  • Mix in the melted butter. Press into a the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust has set.
  • Cool in the refrigerator while you make the batter (note: I put the pan on a towel in the fridge so as not to break any glass shelves).

for the brownies:
*Adapted from BAKER’S One Bowl Brownies
4 oz BAKER’S unsweetened chocolate (4 squares)
¾ C unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
2 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C all purpose flour

  • Change oven temperature to 350 degrees. 
  • Combine the butter and chocolate squares in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 10 second intervals until the butter is melted.
  • Transfer the butter/chocolate mixture to a mixing bowl or the bowl in your stand mixer. 
  • With a rubber spatula, mix the chocolate pieces in the butter until they are completely melted.
  • Mix in the sugar (I used the paddle attachment on my mixer, but by hand will probably work too!)
  • Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  • Mix in the flour.
  • Pour over the cooled pretzel crust and carefully smooth the edges so as not to pick up any pretzels.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean, but with a few fudgy crumbs. BUT, make sure that the middle has set!
  • Once the bars have completely (!) cooled, remove from the pan by carefully lifting out the bars from the pan using the foil overhang.

for the frosting:
½ C unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
3 C confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

  • In the stand of an electric mixer fitted w/paddle (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, one cup at a time until completely combined.
  • Mix in the vanilla and milk (if the frosting is too thick, add more). 
  • Once completely combined, carefully spread over the cooled brownies.

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