Friday, August 10, 2012

Fudgy Cashew Caramel Swirl Brownies with Coconut and Macadamias

"That damned brownie!"  That's what my ninja-love Mike exclaimed when this super, super rich brownie gave him a stomach ache....but was so good he had to eat another piece.  Please note: I cannot be held responsible for tummy aches, diabetic comas, chubby bellies, jiggly butts, or any other ailment or condition that results from eating too much of these brownies.

Fudgy Caramel Swirl Brownies with Coconut and Macadamias

1 cup non-dairy butter, melted
2 1/2 cups sugar
1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa 
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
4 Tablespoons flax seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
2 Tablespoons water
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons cashew butter
4 Tablespoons non-dairy butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 Tablespoons non-dairy milk

3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut

Lightly grease a 16x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray or non-dairy butter.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
First, make your brownie batter.  Combine the melted non-dairy butter, sugar, cocoa, salt and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whip the non-dairy milk and flax seeds together in a blender or by hand with a whisk until thick and creamy.  Add to the ingredients in the large bowl and mix well.  Add the flour and mix until it disappears into the batter.  Then beat the batter vigorously for 1 minute by hand with a wooden spoon.  The batter should be smooth and shiny.  Pour batter into prepared pan.
Next, make the caramel.  Place the sugar, agave, and water into a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5-6 minutes, whisking continuously.  The sugar should melt and the mixture should be bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in cashew butter, non-dairy butter, and vanilla.  Return to the saucepan to the stove over medium-low heat and whisk for two minutes, adding the non-dairy milk one Tablespoon at a time until the mixture is relatively smooth and creamy.  The caramel should be thin enough that it drips in ribbons off of a spoon.  If it is too thick, continue to add non-dairy milk by the Tablespoon until you reach the right consistency.  Remove from heat.
Pour 1/2 cup of the caramel into the pan with the brownie batter.  Use a butter knife to swirl the caramel in with the chocolate.  Reserve the rest of the caramel.
Now toast your toppings.  Place the coconut and macadamias in a dry skillet over medium heat.  Toast for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the coconut is light golden.  Be careful not to burn!
Pour the remaining caramel over the batter in the baking pan and use a spatula to spread it over the entire top, all the way to the edges.  If your caramel has thickened up too much as it cooled, whisk in non-dairy milk one Tablespoon at a time until it reaches a spreadable consistency.  You don't want it too thin or it will just sink into the batter.  After spreading the caramel over the top, sprinkle the toasted coconut and macadamias over the whole top of the caramel.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Allow the brownies to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy with non-dairy ice cream!

Tips and Tricks:
1. You really could substitute any type of nut butter for the cashew butter.  I originally intended to make the caramel with macadamia nut butter, but Whole Foods didn't have any.

2. The caramel is a bit touchy, so just be patient with adding the non-dairy milk by the Tablespoon until it looks right.  If it's slightly thicker or thinner than mine, or isn't perfectly smooth, don't worry; it will still be delicious!

3. I use almond-milk (unsweetened) as my go-to non-dairy milk for pretty much everything from cooking to baking to morning cereal.  Feel free to use soy or hemp or whatever non-dairy milk you like, with the exception of rice milk.  Rice milk doesn't have the creaminess of other non-dairy milks and might change the consistency of the caramel.  But hey, if you really wanna do rice, let me know how it works out!

4. Make sure you scrape the brownie batter bowl and caramel pan with a spatula and lick it clean!

Enjoy these brownies sparingly.  Seriously - they sit like bricks.  AMAZING though.  I made these for my ninja-grandmom's 90th birthday and my whole family raved about them despite the stomach aches.

See you again soon, ninjas - recipes for gnocchi with beer-braised seitan sauce and "cheater" white bean and sweet potato curry up soon.  Same ninja time, same ninja channel.

The Fur Ninja

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