Friday, March 26, 2010

Salty or Sweet? Or Both?

Janet here: People tend to either fall into the salty or sweet category for their food fixes. My son, G, has been a salt freak almost since he started eating solid food, for instance. A bag of Doritos is not safe in our house if he's at home. I, on the other hand, am definitely a sweets freak, in particular chocolate. On the other hand, the piece de resistance in a hot fudge sundae is definitely the salty peanuts. That combination of salty and sweet is just perfect. Why do you think Reese's peanut butter cups are so divine?

One of my new cookbooks, called Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson, is devoted to this idea. She is a firm believer that just about any dessert can be improved by adding salt. These fabulous brownies are just one of the many fine examples in her cookbook that I recommend you check out ASAP. I've made two killer recipes from this book already (click here for post on great chocolate cupcakes) and I just know there are more to come.

What's your pick? Salty or sweet? And how do you satisfy it?

Butterscotch Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and lour a 9X13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan.

Combine the flour, 3/4 teaspoon of the slat, the baking powder and the baking soda in a medium-size bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whisk together the brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt so the salt is evenly distributed. Pour in the melted butter and whisk until well-blended. (I don't have this kind of mixer so I just mixed it with a fork in a bowl and it was fine.) Whisk in the eggs and the vanilla.

Add the lour mixture to the bowl, whisking until it's just incorporated. Fold in the pecans.

Spread the batter into the baking pan, distributing evenly all the way to the edges. (You can add 3/4 cup chocolate chips, either sprinkling on top or mixing into the batter. Also add a dusting of grinder seat salt on top to enhance the chocolate flavor (this is the Salty Sweets cookbook after all. This is an optional step that I did and it was delicious.)

Bake 30-35 minutes until the batter is completely set and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then chill the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour to help set the inside before cutting. The brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or up to one month in the freezer.

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