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Thursday, November 30, 2006

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You are too funny!! You are also right on with Cook's Illustrated. I know there really can be one Best Recipe but I can always count on theirs to be excellent.

Well, I ment there really can not be one Best Recipe.

Tanna,

Yeah I have learned that the people that spend months testing the same recipe over and over again probably know what they are talking about. I usually just cut out some of their sugar! This probably isn't the ultimate recipe but that's what they called it and it's pretty darn tasty. I would have preferred that the brownies were a bit fudgier but that's OK they were decadent none the less.

Is there a mistake with the caramel recipe? When I turned the temperature down after the thermometer hit 290, predictably the temperature went down...and I then turned it back up so I could at least attempt to hit 360 degrees. But then my mixture turned really dark, and got to the point where it was unusable! Did you mean 260, rather than 360 (obviously I am a complete caramel novice...)?

What I meant to say in the above comment, just for clarification, was "When I turned the *heat* down after the thermometer hit 290, predictably the temperature went down..."

Whoops.

Okay, follow up: I tried the caramel again, and this time I paid more attention to the color (following your description of "light amber") than the temperature, at least after it hit 290. I can report massive success...this is the best caramel I've EVER had.

Anyways, the rest of it was pretty easy for me, comparatively--I got up this morning after letting the brownies sit in the fridge overnight (with the caramel poured), cut them up (I didn't do nearly as beautiful a job as you) and tried one.

I can't print what I was *really* thinking at the time...but let's just say it was delicious. I can't wait to give these to my sweets-loving family later tonight...

Thanks for the great recipe (or I guess variation on a recipe)!

Dave,

Sorry it took so long to respond. I am glad you figured it out. For the future... caramel happens at above 290 which is actually called hard crack stage. I suspect that the problem you had with the first batch of caramel was the same one I encounter when ever I cook caramel on my stove; hotspots. Hotspots are a killer in candy making because they basically make it difficult to judge temperature.

The recipe calls for lowering the heat because it is easier to control the caramelization process that way. You can keep the heat at medium but the different between caramel and burnt sugar is very small indeed. The way I check to make sure that everything is working out OK is that once the sugar is past the hard crack stage it becomes very unlikely that the sugar will crystallize and if it does the caramelization process will melt it again anyway, so I go ahead and gently move the candy thermometer around to make sure I am getting an accurate reading. I also gently swirl the pan a little. This makes sure that one part is not getting hotter and darker than the others.

If you have one a diffuser or a cast iron pan can be placed under the pan with the caramel. Both of these even out the heat and make it easier to control the hot sugar! Glad you figured out out!

-Kit

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