Nothing says "Welcome back from camp!" like a home cooked meal. Making favorite recipes for a loved one who has been away communicates, "I know what you like.", "You are worth all the time it took to plan and prepare this dish.", and "Let's gather around the table and talk about all that's conspired while we've been apart."
In my twenties I resisted and even resented the fact that in my family food was the main love language. "Got bullied on the school bus - here's some fried chicken, broke up with your boyfriend - let's bake a big coconut custard pie, or did well on your report card - we're gonna grill some steaks tonight!" Now that I'm entering my more mellow forties, I've embraced food as one of the many signs of love. Along with hugs, kind words, a listening ear, and being present as much as possible, preparing and sharing food has the potential to be a valid form of affection.
Yesterday, I chose to show affection to my daughter with tons of hugs, lot of chatting, a home cooked family dinner, and a freshly baked pan of gooey Caramel Brownies. This recipe comes from a page of my mother's September 2009 Family Circle magazine. Now that I live 1,531 miles away from my parents, my mom has been forced to show me love by mailing me recipes instead of actually making them for me. She knew Caramel Brownies would be a hit with my husband and kids because we love chocolate and have yet to meet a brownie that we didn't like. She was right! We adore the creamy melted caramel that is nestled between the two gooey chocolate brownie layers.
I'm even more fond of creating this dessert since I discovered Kraft's caramel bits. Although opening a 12 ounce bag of caramel cubes has the potential to be a fun family affair, I'm smitten by the convenience of dumping little caramel knobs directly into the pot- no peeling or sneaky sampling necessary.
According to Eleanor Roosevelt, "Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder." According to Heidi, "Caramel Brownies make the homecoming sweeter!"
Caramel Brownies Recipe
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
1 package (14 ounces) soft caramels
1/4 cup heavy cream
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil. Spray foil and sides of pan with cooking spray.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt together butter and unsweetened chocolate in microwave oven for 2 minutes, stir until smooth. Whisk in eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla. Stir in pecans, if using. Spread half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks.
- In a medium-size saucepan, melt together caramels and heavy cream over medium-low heat until smooth, and 5 minutes. Evenly pour over batter in pan. Spread with remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips or chunks.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until top is dry to the touch. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Grab foil and lift brownie from pan. Cut into squares and serve.