Comfortably snuggled up in a warm, cozy sweater, quietly contemplating the morning view from a window seat someplace far away with a steaming cup of coffee warming my hands; that is an ideal chilly, October Thursday. One I laughingly wish I woke to. Instead, I awoke to the worst bedhead, no clean clothes to wear to work, and an empty coffee bean container. Even though the day began in such bad taste, I am grateful that the weather is beautiful and that there was a pot of homemade chili to eat for lunch on this semi-chilly Virginia day.
It’s been a busy past two weeks as my family awaits the birth of my eldest sister’s little boy any day now. We’re hoping he stays put a wee bit longer until hurricane Matthew passes (they happen to live in North East Florida). It’s quite nerve racking being six hundred miles away from almost all your family while there’s a dangerous hurricane on its way that will affect them and others where ever it goes. I am staying hopeful that all will be safe during its chaos.
On top of all that, I was having yet again one of (what I like to call) my rut weeks. To refresh my mind, I made a quick trip to the apple orchard not nine miles down the road from me. Upon arrival is a barn, and inside lie crates full of freshly picked red and green apples of all varieties. In the back of the barn are more crates, but instead of apples, these are full with some of the prettiest looking decorative gourds, local pumpkin, and butternut squashes. Lining the walls are glass jugs and mason jars filled with apple cider, honey, and maple syrup. Each time I go to this particular orchard, it’s so hard to leave with only the apples I came for. They also make some of the best fruit preserves! It’s rather tempting.
Arriving home I had my heart set on apple cider and chocolate, but what to create with two. So, I decided on this apple cider caramel(which makes the sinfully rich brownie even more sinful), with a decadent chocolate brownie flavored with rum; there wasn’t but a couple tablespoons left in the bottle so, why not?
CHOCOLATE RUM BROWNIE WITH SALTED APPLE CIDER CARAMEL
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cups cocoa powder
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons rum
2 large eggs, cold
-salted apple cider caramel-
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoon water
1-ounce unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and line with parchment paper one, 8-inch cake pan.
- Fill a pot with a few inches of water and place over medium heat till it simmers. Place a heatproof bowl that will sit over the top of the pot(don’t let it touch the water). Add the butter, chopped chocolate, sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir until just combined. Let it sit over the simmering pot till the butter has melted and the mixture is somewhat hot when you dip your finger into it. Remove the bowl from the pot and stir in the rum. Let it cool until it’s just warm to touch. Once cooled, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture should be glossy. Whisk together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add to the chocolate mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon till all the flour is combined. Pour into prepared pan and evenly spread around the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking for doneness at the 20-minute mark with a toothpick(if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake for 5 minutes more). Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then using a sharp knife, loosen around the edges. Invert onto a wire rack then peel off the parchment. Let it cool completely, then pour the caramel over the top. Garnish with more sea salt(optional).
- In a medium sized saucepan, combine the apple cider, cream, butter, and sugar. Stir slightly until just combined. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, boil till the mixture till it becomes a light amber color, then remove from heat. Add a pinch of sea salt and stir. It should thicken after sitting for a few minutes, but make sure you don’t let it sit too long in the pot or it will start to become firm. After letting it sit for a couple 3-4 minutes, pour over the brownie and garnish with more sea salt(optional).