baked sunday mornings: sweet & salty brownies

sweet & salty brownies.

Good?  Heck no!  A-MAZ-ING.  Incredible.  Ridiculous.  Gooey.  Delicious.  All of those things rolled into one.

These brownies are the original reason I purchased the book baked explorations.  Picture it:  I noticed a tweet – clicked on the link, saw the recipe, clicked onto my account and voilà – book in hand by the end of the week.

This recipe alone would make purchasing the book worth it (however … this book isn’t a one trick wonder – I am lovin’ a plethora of other recipes too).  Participating in baked sunday mornings was a nice bonus.

Seattle Pastry Girl started a blog – every second Sunday, those of us who want to, are invited to blog about a recipe (there is a set schedule for us) found in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s book baked explorations.  Being the fan that I am (buttermilk pie anyone?) – I decided to participate.

That is how I ended up here – telling you about my experiences baking sweet & salty brownies.

Step one of the processes – make caramel (the filling).  It took me two tries.  Yes.  I seem to still be having difficulty figuring out the difference between dark amber and burnt (even using a candy thermometer I can’t seem to get it right).  But at least it only took me two tries – you can imagine my excitement when it worked out (dancing around my kitchen and murmurers of, “this is awesome” were the order of the day).

Salty caramel – check!

You might be wondering where the recipe is?  Don’t worry  – you didn’t miss anything.  One of the rules is that we don’t post the actual recipe.  I have however, included a pretty basic step-by-step photo gallery of what I did.  Click here for the actual recipe.

While that was cooling, I started working on the brownie batter – my strongest recommendation for this part – is to use eggs at room temperature.  You’ll be whisking them into a warm batter, and so to prevent curdling, ensure your eggs are tempered.

Otherwise … this is a totally uncomplicated recipe.  I used SALTED butter to increase the saltiness of the finished product (I’m a firm believer in the use of salted butter in baking).

Picture it.  Layer of brownie, layer of caramel, layer of brownie.  The gooey factor is pretty intense.

I pulled them out of the oven, allowed them to cool completely and then … froze them.  Yep.  I tried cutting them, but they were so moist that it was next to impossible without creating an absolute mess.  So I froze them overnight and then was able to easily cut them.

Having happily nibbled on the trimmings (remember … I always trim the sides off my brownies and squares), I realized that these are probably the most intense brownies I’ve ever tasted: and so I chose to cut 1-inch squares.  70 squares to be exact.  Awesome.

Perfect for sharing … if you feel like it.



buttermilk pie. oh my.

This pie is … divine.  That’s right.  DIVINE.  Its deliciousness is simply gobsmackingly ridiculous.  Nice sentence eh?

And so … I heart this pie something fierce … the reasons being:

1.  It’s from baked explorations (Eric, my favourite cheftestant from Top Chef Just Desserts, works in the Brooklyn bakery)

2.  I read the little blurb author Matt Lewis wrote – it included a visit to Québec City (one of my favourite cities) and his discovery of sugar pie (one of my first loves)

3.  I wrote Matt Lewis and told him (a) how excited I was that he loves sugar pie, (b) that I simply can not wait to try his version of it, and finally (c) how much I love his cookbooks (the root beer cake I make is originally from his first book, baked)

4.  He responded to my email.  AMAZING (he thanked me for my enthusiasm… and wished me luck in my future baking adventures!)

5.  This pie is the answer to all those sugar pie haters out there … you know who you are … you think the pie is too sickly sweet and not worth the bother.  This pie is worth the bother.  This pie is simply outstanding.

Good reasons eh?  I think so.  And that’s how I ended up baking this pie for an evening gathering @ Edgar. 

Rachelle (rachelle eats food), Asha (beFOODled) and I suprised Marysol (she eats bears) and Simon one Friday evening – Asha brought along a delicious shrimp appetizer, Rachelle treated us to a charcuterie plate – cheese, salumi, cretons, baguette (all amazing), and I brought along the dessert.  THIS dessert.

We heated it up as we helped Marysol and Simon prep for the following morning, and then sat down with a glass of milk to enjoy our just rewards.

I can say … we went back for second pieces.  It was a success.  And I discovered a new favourite.

I did twist this recipe – but really only slightly.  I used a shortbread crust rather than a classic pie dough, and baked it in a tart pan.  It turned out beautifully…

The baked note that accompanies this recipe is “…if you aren’t desperate to impress with a visual smorgasbord, this homey little pie packs a lot of unexpected taste and texture.  It is sweet and custardy and captivating.  Think of it as the dessert equivalent of frogs legs – ugly, but addictive.” 

I don’t necessarily agree – I think it’s a pretty pie: pretty in its simplicity and that it just tastes great.  No bells and whistles – but sometimes, you really just want a piece of pie.  Plain and simple.

buttermilk pie


1 shortbread crust dough

4 eggs

2 tbsp + 1 tsp flour

3/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled

1 c. buttermilk

1/4 c. pure 100% canadian maple syrup

Press the shortbread crust dough into a 9-inch pie plate – carefully working the dough into the bottom and up the sides.  Wrap and freeze the crust until firm, about 30 minutes (or if you’re like me, leave it wrapped in the tart pan for a couple of days in the freezer).

Preheat your oven to 325 F.

No stand-mixers required.

Grab a large bowl and lightly beat the eggs.  Whisk in 2 tbsp of flour (the batter might look somewhat curdled – that’s ok). 

Add both the sugars – whisking everything until the ingredients are well combined. 

 Pour in the cooled butter, buttermilk, and maple syrup, whisking the entire time.

 Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the remaining flour over the unbaked shortbread crust. 

Pour the batter into the shell, and then sprinkle the remaining flour over the top.  Bake for about 1 hour – the custard will get fluffy and airy – but you’ll know it’s ready because it is set.

Allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.  It’s recommended to serve it at room temperature … however we ate it warmed up.  It was better.  So re-heat it, just slightly. 

And if you are a true lover of the sugar pie … maybe you’ll want to drizzle just a hint of maple syrup on your warmed piece … I bet that would be good.  Real good :0)

Any leftover pie can be refrigerated (tightly covered), for up to 2 days.

Thank you Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito for bringing the beauty of a buttermilk pie to my life.