|Chocolate Layer Brownies|
When I first became aware of her rags-to-riches story, her drive and ambition to feed her family and turn a love for baking and cooking into a career, I bought Paula Deen's The Lady & Son's Savannah Country Cookbook. The small, spiral-bound book is a collection of family recipes, as well as those also served in her Savannah restaurant of the same name, The Lady & Sons. I used it for a few recipes (I do love pictures though and there are none, so truthfully, I really did not flip through it that often), but it wasn't until my friend Tracy was looking over my cookbook collection one day and exclaimed that her favorite brownie recipe was by Paula Deen, I think from her Southern Cooking Bible. Not only her favorite recipe, she continued, but the easiest. I would now have to add the tastiest and most asked for, after making these brownies for more celebrations, potlucks, birthday parties and holidays than I could ever recall.
The recipe uses three large Symphony candy bars to create the milk chocolate layer in the middle. I still get a kick out of watching other grocery store customers looking over my healthy, pretty clean round-up of food items at the register... until they spy the brilliant, silver foil of these huge, king-size candy bars perched on top of, say, the quinoa or maybe a bag of lentils. Such big, questioning eyes, oh my. You know though, if this was my thing, my vice of sorts, I think it would be far better than a six-pack of Bud or a carton of cigarettes, no?
I made these just recently for, yes, a birthday celebration. After a day of apple-picking about an hour's drive west from where I live in Alexandria, VA, my friends and I headed over to a nearby winery to celebrate with some Virginia wine. Paired with the wine (who could ever deny that beautiful relationship, of chocolate and wine?!) as well as great friends, on a gorgeous October day, these chocolate layer brownies proved, yet again, to be a tasty success.
Chocolate Layer Brownies
(adapted from Paula Deen's "Toffee Brownies" recipe)
*One box of your favorite box brownie mix*
*3 of your favorite large, king-size candy bars**
*Butter, for greasing pan
*Port wine (optional)
*Walnuts (optional; although I'm absolutely nuts for nuts, I choose not to put them in my brownies)
Set the oven to the temperature that suits the size and type of brownies you like best. I typically use my 13x9 inch baking pan for thick brownies. This is enough to serve around 20 people, or more or less, depending on how you cut them, or how your chocoholic friends and family savor (EAT) them.
Make the brownies according to the package. I always substitute port wine for water. I find it addes a richer taste, and I must say that it certainltly goes well when you are toting these with you to a winery or wine tasting. Add your walnuts or nuts to the mixture if you so choose.
Grease the bottom of the pan and up along all sides. Fill the pan with half of the prepared brownie mixture. Unwrap the three chocolate bars and place appropriately on top of the browie mixture in the baking pan. Pour the remaining brownie mixture on top of the chocolate bars, filling all nooks and spreading the mixture evenly on top. Tap the pan on the counter to relieve any air bubbles that may have formed. Bake according to the box.
Once the minimum amount of time has been reached (say the box reads 28-30 minutes, I always take them out at 28 minutes) and they looked cracked on top, remove the pan from the oven and let sit and bake a bit more on top of the stove. This allows for a moist, chewy brownie, but also ones that are surely cooked through. When cool, place in refrigerator for an hour or more. These are much easier to cut when cool/cold, and the layers of brownie/milk chocolate/brownie will then be completely defined. Pairs well with a good Virginia Cabernet Franc or port, a glass of milk or with your own special beverage. Enjoy!
*I'll post my own recipe once I stock up on fall and holiday baking supplies again, so a box mix will have to do right now, unless you have your own recipe, of course.
** I always use the Symphony bars Ms. Deen recommends. I prefer the milk chocolate instead of those with nuts or toffee chips, but always get what you like.