Banana Pumpkin Breakfast Bread

Virtually overnight my son went from eating baby food to refusing it.  At about 9 months old, William decided he wanted to feed himself, and hasn’t looked back (well, maybe for a few spoonfuls of applesauce!).  So, in an effort to keep up with his eating, I stumbled upon a delicious, nutritious bread on the King Arthur Flour website.  I’ve made some adjustments after reading the comments, and with my desire to throw flaxseed into whatever I can and get away with it, I came up with this recipe.  To my delight this bread is not just satisfying to our little boy, every one loves it, and I hope you and your family will too!

*This bread is best if it rests overnight, but if you just can’t wait, try and allow it to fully cool before slicing.

Enjoy, William’s Breakfast Bread!

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Banana Pumpkin Breakfast Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soft butter (1/2 a stick) ~4 ounces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or a jar of baby food, apples) ~4 ounces
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar ~5 ounces
  • 3 Tablespoons Agave
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7.5 ounces pureed pumpkin (half of a 15 ounce can, this way you can get two loaves out of one can, freezes well)
  • 1 cup mashed bananas, about 2 very ripe bananas ~8 ounces
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Premium Whole Wheat Flour (I prefer King Arthur)~6 ounces
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

**I have included measurements in volume as well for anyone using a food scale.  My husband got me my food scale a couple years ago, and I don’t know if this sounds sad or not, but either way, it is one of my favorite gifts.  I use it when I bake and it is wonderful (and helps make clean-up a little easier)!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan with butter and set aside.  In a large bowl (I just use my KitchenAid stand mixer with paddle attachment), beat together butter, applesauce, sugar, agave, water, eggs, pumpkin puree, banana, and vanilla.  At this point my butter doesn’t look beautifully incorporate, but it melts beautifully into the bread. Add the flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice to the butter mixture and stir to combined. Spoon mixture into loaf pan and bake for approximately 70 minutes.  Depending on your oven, check it at an hour, but I find that it needs all of 70 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack in loaf pan for 10 minutes, remove bread from pan, and allow to cool completely.  Once the bread is cooled wrap it tightly in plastic wrap overnight.  After bread has been sliced keep in the refrigerator up to a week.

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Adapted from http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/easy-whole-grain-pumpkin-banana-bread-recipe

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The Best Buttermilk Pancakes

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Mark your calendars!  National Pancake Day is March 3, 2015.  I know, I’m a little early to the pancake party, but I wanted to give everyone plenty of time to practice making, and eating these pancakes.  It has taken me years to find a pancake recipe that I love.  I’ve liked many pancakes before, but this time, it’s love.  Maybe it’s because I’m older and wiser, or maybe it’s because I have a few pancake making tips that make the difference between fluffy and flat, flavorful and lacking, good and not-so-good pancakes.  I can’t be certain.  Either way, I know your search is over for perfect pancakes…they’re here!

We have pancakes at least once a week in our house!  Whether it be Sunday breakfast, breakfast for dinner, or just reheated frozen pancakes for dessert, we are a pancake eating family.  I hope you all enjoy these wonderfully fluffy, scrumptious pancakes.  And Happy National Pancake Day (a little less than a week early)!!

Buttermilk Pancakes 

makes about 12 pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Prep:

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  Next, in a large measuring cup whisk together buttermilk and eggs (pour buttermilk first to measure off 2 cups).  Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk together just until combined (about 10 stirs).  Preheat pan, griddle, whatever you are using, on medium-high heat (more toward medium).**I like to make the batter then start preheating.  I find its nice to let the pancake batter sit for a few minutes.**

Sprinkle a little bit of water on the pan and if it “dances” you are ready to go (or join the dancing party with pancake batter).  I like to pour a little canola or vegetable oil into my 1/8 of a cup measuring cup (I’ve also used 1/4 cup and a ladle) and with a pastry brush lightly oil the pan and measuring cup.  If I’m using an the 1/8 of a cup scoop I typically use two scoops for one pancake, and begin scooping and cooking.  Feel free to add some bananas and pecans, chocolate chips, blueberries, whatever pancake you want to create, very soon after pouring the pancake batter on the cooking surface.

NOW…here’s another thing **flip the pancake when the first little bubble starts to form, don’t wait too long, or for all of the bubbles to fill the pancake** I feel like this helps with the fluffy factor.  I’d say, cook the first side 2 to 3 minutes and the second 1 to 2.  Or until some bubble form on side one, and then not too long on side two.

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Top with butter, syrup, bacon strips, candy bars, caviar, nothing, I don’t really care.  All I care about is that you enjoy your pancake, no matter how you like to top it, dip it, eat it…

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slightly modified from taste of home’s buttermilk pancake recipe http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/buttermilk-pancakes

Friday Night Pizza!

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Well, it’s the first Friday in Lent so that means it’s time for some pizza.  My mom started this lenten tradition years ago and I am happy to continue it with my family.  I am also thrilled to have perfected my pizza dough recipe just in time!  This dough is quick, easy, and delicious.  Tonight’s pizza will be meat free, but you can enjoy it any way you like, the possibilities are endless.  So without further ado, here is my dough recipe with some topping ideas along the way:

Happy Friday Night Pizza!

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Pizza Dough

makes 2 – 14 inch pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups bread flour (you can use all-purpose flour, it just creates a chewier crust)
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 packet of instant dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups, 11o degree water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for bowl and pizza pan

Lets get started: Put flours, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. I like to put the sugar and yeast next to each other, salt on the other side of the bowl.

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With the mixer on low, slowly add the warm water and 2 Tablespoons olive oil (it is so easy to forget the olive oil, don’t forget the olive oil here).

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Once the dough is coming together, turn up the speed on your stand mixer.  If at this time your dough looks like it needs more flour or water, add whichever is needed a Tablespoon at a time (I add more bread flour if I need to add flour, instead of semolina).

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Once dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball, keep kneading with the dough hook for 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove dough from the bowl, onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times with your hands. I always pour a little olive oil, about 2 teaspoons, into the same bowl (of the stand mixer), sometimes cleaned out sometimes not depending on how well the dough came off the sides of the bowl, and place the dough in the bowl, flip it over, and then over once more so the dough has olive oil on both sides.  Cover the bowl with saran wrap and wait an hour.  I usually just put the bowl in the oven, turned off of course, to ensure a draft free zone for rising.  After an hour or a little longer, place dough on a lightly floured surface, cut in half and you are ready to go.  I tend to make one pizza at a time, so my extra dough goes into a freezer bag and into the fridge for up to 3 days, or into the freezer for about 6 months.

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Now we wait for it to rise…

Bake pizza at 450 degrees on second lowest level in oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Topping Ideas:

We are a pretty plain cheese pizza family, but love to through in some other options as well.  You can use store-bought sauce or my marinara sauce (scroll down on the page of this link to find the recipe).  Just put as much or little sauce as you want, sprinkle with mozzarella, parmesan and bake on 450 for 10 minutes (give or take a couple minutes).

We will also have a veggie pizza tonight, here is what I do for this pie:

once dough is ready to top I add a little olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, and veggies (tonight will be broccoli, spinach, thinly sliced onion, peppers because that’s what I have on hand, but if I had some cherry tomatoes I’d half them and put them on as well.

Pepperoni

Sausage

Meatball

Basically, whatever your heart desires…

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Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili – Rajma

Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili - This is Rajma!

Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili – Rajma!

A while back I was looking for a vegetarian chili recipe and stumbled upon Padma Lakshmi’s, Rajma recipe.  I tried it and loved it!  Love Padma too, big Top Chef fans over here.  This also happens to be the first recipe I made when I decided I was committed to starting a food blog; so I took lots of pictures in my poorly lit kitchen, and got to work, loving each step of the way (even the pictures). This recipe is equally special to me because I am fortunate enough to be using the garam masala and turmeric straight from India.  A longtime family friend, and once neighbor to my grandmother, brought some spices back from his trip.  I am lucky, and thankful, to reap the benefits of his long journey. Thank you, Tom.

Rajma is one of my go-to’s when I want something quick, healthy, and meat free (and one I almost always have all the ingredients on-hand).  I’ve added turmeric to this dish for it’s wonderful health benefits, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, just to name a couple.  I like to serve the Rajma over jasmine rice and accompanied by a piece of naan bread.  If you are looking for a delicious bean dish that is packed with flavor, your search is over…

this is, Rajma:

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Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili – Rajma

  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (or 4 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger, or 1 teaspoon ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 15 ounce can of red kidney beans
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Time to Cook:

In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat oil on medium-high heat.  When oil is hot add onion and pepper, and sprinkle with salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon), sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Add garlic, tomatoes (reserve can with 1/2 cup of water), ginger, cumin seeds, Garam Masala, turmeric, and red pepper flakes.  Let simmer for 10 minutes or so.

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Add kidney beans, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of water (from tomato can, if using), let cook another 5 minutes.

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Adjust seasoning, add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over rice, or with some naan, or both.  But most importantly, ENJOY!

Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili - This is Rajma!

Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili – This is Rajma!

Bread and Butter

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So, I’ve been really into making my own Artisan Bread whenever I can.  It may sound laborious or unnecessary, but I must say, surprisingly, it is not.  You will see it is well worth the time and effort to make these treats for you and your family.  Let’s start with the butter, and head back to my Aunt Rachel’s in Vermont.  Rachel always had the most delicious, spreadable butter on hand in her fridge, and I just loved it.  For the past year or so, I’ve been making canola butter and my refrigerator is never without it.  You take three simple ingredients; butter, canola oil, and salt and whip until you can’t whip any longer. IMG_0711 IMG_0714

It is well worth it for an easy spread when making grilled cheese sandwiches, to spread on a bagel, toast, pancakes, I could go on and on, but then again, I could put butter on just about anything.  For those who are opposed to canola oil, I’m sure you could use avocado oil, grape seed oil, almond oil, etc.  I never have used a different oil, but if you do, let me know how it turns out.

Canola Butter

  • 2 sticks good quality butter (1 cup), room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (if not using salted butter)

Put butter in bowl of stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on medium high for about 5 minutes or until mixture is fluffy and pale yellow.  You will need to scrap the sides every so often to make sure everything is well blended. IMG_0712

Next, with the mixer on low, add the salt, and slowly add the canola oil.  Turn the speed up, and whip on medium high speed for another 5 minutes or so, until mixture is light and fluffy (fluffier!)  Don’t forget to scrap the sides. IMG_0715

Pour the butter mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight!  Then enjoy for as long as it will last in your house! IMG_0716 IMG_0717

Disclaimer:  I was told equal parts butter to oil, I just liked the consistency of using a little less oil.  Go with what you feel! Also, you may not want to make the bread and butter the same day since they both use the stand mixer, and the butter needs a night in the refrigerator to firm up before you enjoy, but if you do, I suggest making the butter first.

Now onto the bread!

My cousin Jennie and her son Berkley came out to Michigan to visit for a week this summer, and while they were here she introduced me to this amazingly simple and delicious bread.  Now I make it at least twice a month.  It takes a few simple ingredients, a dutch oven, very little effort, and in a couple of hours you have homemade artisan bread.  Let’s get baking!

No-Knead 5 Minute Artisan Bread

No-Knead 5 Minute Artisan Bread

Artisan Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, more for shaping

makes one loaf, double and divide into two loaves, or make one large loaf (pictured above)

Add yeast and warm water to the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with dough hook, and stir on low for a few seconds.  Add flour and salt to the water and yeast and stir on low until you can ensure that you will not get flour all over you, then you turn up the speed.  Stir until the dough is combined, which take a couple minutes.  The dough is typically very sticky (more so on humid days) and still tends to stick to the sides of the bowl, don’t worry, you can add a touch more flour if you feel that it is too sticky.  After the flour is fully incorporated, stop the mixer, peel the dough off the hook, remove the hook, and with wet hands (shaped like a shovel) scoop the dough off the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Leaving the dough in the bowl, place a towel over the bread and let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature or 5 hours in the refrigerator.

After the dough has risen preheat the oven to 450 degrees with your dutch oven (top and all) inside the oven.  I use my 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset.  Once the oven is preheated wait an additional 20 minutes before putting the dough into the dutch oven.

Spread a generous about of flour onto the counter and remove the dough.  Generously sprinkle flour on the top of the dough, form into a round loaf, and with a serrated knife, make three cuts (not too deep) into the dough (you can do any design you want here and don’t have to limit yourself to three cuts).

Once the pan is heated (preheated plus an additional 20 minutes) plop the well floured dough into the hot dutch oven, put the top on and bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove the top and bake for 10 more minutes.

Once the bread is baked remove from the dutch oven onto a cutting board, wait a good 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and enjoy!

The first time I made this without my cousins supervision, she did have to go home eventually, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, didn’t wait an additional 20 minutes of heating the dutch oven, realized shortly after putting the bread in the oven that the oven needed to be at 450 degrees, turned up the oven and baked for a little longer than 30 minutes, and the bread still was delicious.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this bread/dough is forgiving!

Here is a picture of my first attempt at this bread (wrong temp and all).

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Recipe from: http://www.food.com/recipe/5-minute-artisan-bread-325571

Rigatoni alla Gin

No, this is not a typo.  I did not get my liquors confused.  I would like to introduce you to Rigatoni alla Vodka’s sweet, subtle sister, Rigatoni alla Gin.  While I love the Vodka version, my Uncle David turned me onto this version where he dares to use gin, and it works, oh does it work.  Adding gin instead of vodka lends a subtly sweet flavor, and makes for one delicious sauce.

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Rigatoni alla Vodka was always a treat at our house, or something my Grandmother would make if someone said they liked it.  Since then, I’ve made it on special occasions, or when someone was really craving this deliciously rich treat.  Not too long ago, I was craving this perfect pasta dish.  I went to the liquor cabinet, and we only had gin.  No worries, I knew that my Uncle had used gin in the past, so I knew it was something I could switch out.  I got to googling recipes and low and behold, my Uncle’s Rigatoni alla Gin recipe came up from his cookbook, Dad, Now What’s for Dinner?:  A Collection of Family Favorites by Dr. David Liporace.  I was so excited to see this recipe that I made it on the spot and haven’t looked back.  I tweaked it a little because I love peas in my Rigatoni alla anything and made some other adjustments here and there based on what I had on hand at the time.  It turned out perfectly.  I hope you all try this special dish and enjoy it with your family!

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Rigatoni Alla Gin

1 pound Rigatoni

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 cups Marinara Sauce (recipe below), or 1 16 ounce jar of your favorite store-bought sauce

1 8 ounce can Hunt’s tomato sauce

1/8 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or Italian Seasoning)

4 Tablespoons Butter

1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil (or 2 teaspoons dry basil)

1/3 cup frozen peas

3/4 cup heavy cream

4 to 5 Tablespoons Gin

salt and pepper

Original Recipe: https://books.google.com/books?id=qXvrqLE7AkAC&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=rigatoni+alla+gin&source=bl&ots=KmHpEXEN_C&sig=2X03To6g9abURQgl7DCyLaBUR7c&hl=en&sa=X&ei=r0-8VPS_Nor6yATXpILYCg&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=rigatoni%20alla%20gin&f=false

In a large sauce pan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and a nice pinch of salt, sauté until translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or so.  Add marinara sauce, Hunt’s tomato sauce, butter, Herbes de Provence, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously with kosher salt.  Cook pasta al dente, according to the box.

After sauce is done simmering, remove sauce from the heat.  Add cream, peas, and gin.  Put back on heat and simmer to desired thickness, or about 10 minutes.

Once pasta is cooked, drain and reserve until sauce is ready.  Once sauce is ready ladle two or three ladles full of sauce into the pot where you cooked the pasta.  Place pot over low heat and stir pasta until nicely coated with sauce.  Scoop pasta into serving dishes, pour with extra sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

My Marinara Sauce

1 28 ounce can tomato puree, or whole tomatoes pureed in blender

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil (or fresh)

parmesan rind (optional)

salt and pepper

In large dutch oven, heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil, garlic and pinch (or however much you want) of crushed red pepper over low/medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Do not let the garlic brown!!!  Add tomato puree (I always save my can and rinse with a little water to thin out sauce later on, I usually end up using about 1/2 cup of water), 1 teaspoon salt (to start, you can always add more, and I do), 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, and parmesan rind.  Simmer for at least an hour.  Taste after an hour, adjust seasoning.  Remove parmesan rind before serving.

Knock You Naked Brownies – Williams College Style

It is an exciting weekend in the Miness household this weekend; the Carolina Panthers play in their second playoff game of the post-season on Saturday (Go Panthers), and The Golden Globes are Sunday!  While I love football, and the food and fun that accompany it, award shows just make me feel happy.  The Red Carpet, the fashion, the stars, and the actual award ceremony itself, make me giddy.  So as a treat, I am making something sweet, knock you nakeds!

While the professional athletes leave it all on the field and Hollywood’s elite strut their stuff on the red carpet, I will indulge in these chocolatey gooey brownies, squeeze into my sweat pants, and enjoy the show.

Oh Happy Day!

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While teaching tennis at the Nike Tennis Camp at Williams College I became obsessed with these amazingly decadent caramel brownies (I also met my husband there, a double bonus).  I found myself hoping that everyday when we went to lunch, or dinner, these beauties would be just waiting for me at the dessert counter, of course they weren’t, but a girl can dream.  Ever since then I have dreamt about these brownies, and was so excited to see Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) making these on her show one day.  I made her version, and while they were delicious, they were not exactly like the ones I came to love at Williams.  That taste test sent me on the hunt for the Williams College brownies, and led me to their head baker, Jerry D’Achille (my grandmother’s friend from Hoosick Falls, thanks for the hookup, Gram!).

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Jerry and I chatted, and I got to baking, and baking, and baking…here is the result!

Knock You Naked’s

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake
  • 1 stick butter, melted (and a little more for greasing the pan)
  • 1/3 plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 60 unwrapped caramels, such as Kraft
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Audrey displays the caramels!

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • flour, for dusting the pan

In a double boiler (I just use a glass bowl over a saucepan) begin melting the 60 unwrapped caramels (a perfect job for kids, Audrey (and Andy) were given this task) and 1/2 cup evaporated milk.  This process takes the longest so I like to get it going while I do the other prep).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour (light dusting) 9×9 cake pan, set aside.

Combine Devil’s Food Cake mix, melted butter, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk and stir until well combined.  This mixture is thick, but spreads nicely with your hands.  Scoop a touch more than half of the mixture into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly.  I start with my spatula, but always finish with what Ina Garten calls the best kitchen tools, clean hands!  Bake this portion for 10 minutes, remove, and allow to cool (and I’m sure your caramels are still melting, so it works out perfectly).

Once the caramel/milk combo is melted and smooth, pour on top of the cooled, baked bottom layer of brownie goodness.  Then sprinkle 1/3 cup chocolate chips over the caramel.  With the remaining cake mixture, crumble it over the top of the caramel and chocolate chips.  Don’t feel like every inch needs to be covered because the crumbles spread out.  Bake for an additional 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  These brownies are best when refrigerated for a bit to allow them to firm up.  The cooling process takes a few hours, and this is why I usual make these a day in advance.

Cut into whatever size bites you desire, and ENJOY!  And feel free to do whatever you want with your clothes after eating, if it’s getting naked, then so be it.

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