When I was 17, someone asked me what I would order on death row. It was a very important question, but my taste buds were blanking. I’m Italian, but the craving surprisingly wasn’t my grandma’s Sunday sauce or any form of pasta, bread or meatballs. I almost chose 2 a.m. disco fries from the crappy diner I go to in New Jersey. Then, the answer suddenly came to me in a heavenly mix of sugar, flour, butter and chocolate. I wanted a baked good. With that important question answered, I took on the identity of Baked Girl. I tend to take any life occasion and create an excuse to bake: holidays, break–ups, exam weeks, make–ups, girls' nights... you get the point. I must warn you that I am a human contradiction. Half of my heart craves fitness and quinoa, and the other half, well, likes to bake extremely unhealthy desserts. My dream job is to open a bakery/coffee shop called Dough Co. next to a cardio dance fitness studio; I truly believe eating it out is the best after sweating it out. (Ed. note: My last name is Donato, so there would be a donut called the Donat–o.) Regardless if this dream ever comes true, I still want you guys to come on this journey of taste bud–orgasms with me every week. Always remember: a good baker will rise to the occasion, and the yeast I can do is share my recipes with you.
Recipe: Death Row–Inspired Brownies
These brownies are so good they will probably kill you—or put you into a sugar coma at the least.
Ingredients (All Prices from The Fresh Grocer)
The Brownie Layer:
You can use a box mix but (pretty please) don’t, and instead use...
· ¾ cup dutch–processed cocoa powder ($4.00)
· ½ tsp baking soda ($2.50)
· 2/3 cup butter melted (divide it in half) ($4.00)
· ½ cup boiling water
· 2 cups granulated sugar ($2.50)
· 2 large eggs
· 1 tsp vanilla extract ($5.09)
· ½ tsp salt
· 1 1/3 cup flour ($2.00)
· 2 cups chocolate chips ($4.50)
Coconut Pecan Frosting Layer:
· 2/3 cup of evaporated milk, full fat (sounds yucky, I know) ($1.34)
· 1 big egg yolk, beaten
· 5 tbsp of unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
· 1 ½ tsp. of vanilla extract
· 2/3 cup chopped pecans (toasted of course) ($7.49)
· a bag of sweetened shredded coconut ($3.59)
· 1 stick salted butter
· 2 ½ cups dark brown sugar ($2.00)
· 1 cup heavy cream ($2.19)
· ½ tbs. of vanilla extract
· ¼ tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9–by–13–inch baking pan with parchment paper or a non–stick spray.
2. Prepare brownies:
a. In a mixing bowl, stir the cocoa and baking soda. Add in and stir 1/3 cup of the melted butter until the mix is smooth. Now stir in the boiling water until this mixture is smooth and THICC.
b. Stir in the sugar and eggs and the remaining 1/3 cup of melted butter. Next stir in the vanilla and salt until smooth.
c. Now dump in the flour and chocolate chips until just combined.
d. Spread the batter into the prepared tray and bake for 35–ish minutes until the edges look crispy. (Ed note: Always better to undercook than overcook brownies. Nobody likes dry brownies.)
e. Let the brownies chill.
3. Prepare coconut pecan frosting layer:
a. Toast your pecans: place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and watch those bad boys until they are toasted and smell good. Don’t burn the damn pecans because they didn’t do anything to you.
b. Bring the evaporated milk, butter and egg yolk to a gentle simmer and cook for 8–10 minutes (whisk like your Penn degree depends on it; NO TEXTING WHILE WHISKING).
c. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract, toasted pecans and coconut.
d. Do yourself a favor and eat a spoonful of the frosting (no regrets).
4. Spoon the coconut pecan frosting layer onto brownies in an even layer.
5. Prepare the caramel sauce:
a. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
b. Add the brown sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla and WHISK WHISK WHISK for 8 whole minutes. (Ed. note: I tricked you, this recipe is actually an arm workout, you’re welcome.)
c. Once it's bubbling, add half of the salt. Whisk and cook for another minute.
d. Stop and scrape down the sides. Be careful so it doesn’t “burn, baby, burn.”
e. Add the other half of the salt and resume whisking for another minute or two.
f. Allow to simmer and thicken for an additional 2–3 minutes.
g. Remove from heat and allow time to cool.
6. Drizzle the caramel (you will have extra) over the prepared, frosted brownies and add additional chocolate chips for aesthetic purposes.
7. Allow this masterpiece to cool. You can speed up the process by placing it in the fridge.
8. Eat (but not all in one sitting, unless you’re actually on death row).