A Brief Respite from Hermitism

February 5, 2009

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Around this time of year—the dregs of the winter—Kevin and I are prone to hermitism.  It’s a serious condition that affects those of us in the northern reaches of this country, confining us to our homes, leaving us yearning for turtleneck sweaters and hearty food.  Sure, we leave the house for work, but happy hour?  No thank you!  Dinner down the block?  Are you nuts?  A walk around the neighborhood?  Take a hike!

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So, I was downright shocked to find us triple booked for the Super Bowl last Sunday.  Triple!  Booked!  Frankly, I didn’t even think we had that many friends (or maybe I just didn’t remember them, given that we are weeks into the whole hermitism thing at this point and, I dare say, some of said friends have perhaps fallen prey to the syndrome too).  In the end, we could only make it to two of the parties, which was about as much social interaction as us hermitism-afflicted souls could take.  Hermitism side effects aside, two parties meant one thing: two treats.

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When we bundled up to head to Party #1 last Sunday, we gathered up a big bowl of savory popcorn (in short: freshly popped corn, hot melted butter, lots of grated parmigiano reggiano, slivers of fresh rosemary and a heavy dose of cracked black pepper) and a tray of brownies.

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Not just any brownies, though, because this was the Super Bowl after all.  They were turtle brownies, which basically meant a cakey, moist, almost loamy layer of classic brownies blanketed with a sheet of walnut-studded caramel.

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They’re kind of a spectacle, these brownies, matching the football game we watched as we ate them.  Just like the Super Bowl amps up the normal NFL game (not exactly a toned down event to begin with), this recipe takes the unadorned brownie (rich and lovely in its own right) over the top with decadence.

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With a few tweaks, I think they could be the perfect decadent dessert.  I was a bit disappointed by the caramel (it was a little light, even though I let it bubble on the stove for five minutes longer than the recipe instructed, and it got a little grainy and it cracked when I cut it … but in the end it was still caramel, so I can’t complain too loudly) and might go for more of a salted caramel method—for a little depth to cut the sweetness—next time I make these (which might not be for a while, for the sake of my blood sugar level).  I do plan to test out some modifications and I’ll keep you posted on my findings.  In the meantime, though, you can find me on the couch, reading a riveting book, slurping from a mug of hot soup.  You know, reverting to hermitism.

Recipe here.

11 Responses to “A Brief Respite from Hermitism”

  1. Monica h Says:

    I just clicked over to see Mrtha’s recipe and the two brownies look nothing alike. No offense to you and your brownies, because I think they look delish! but I think Martha’s recipes are flawed. I am a big fan of hers but almost eveytime I make one of her recipes the cooking time os way off.

    I kind of like the crackly caramel on your brownies, it reminds me of old fashioned caramel candy- yum.

  2. Robin Says:

    I agree with Monica – that yours look delicious and that Martha’s recipes can be tricky. I have to wonder how her topping came out so dark… maybe it’s a *very* thin layer.


  3. Hi Monica and Robin. I usually have pretty good luck with Martha’s recipes. And I suppose I should say that these brownies were good (certainly no complaints from the attendees of Party #2), but they just weren’t what I was expecting (I was expecting, naturally, the photo!) and I think they can be even better. If anyone’s got a great turtle brownie recipe, let me know!

    Robin, I agree that in the Martha photo, the caramel almost looks like a glaze. Which is weird because the recipe produced quite a bit of caramel for me (too much for a thin layer).

  4. amylouwho Says:

    I’m glad I’m not alone in my hermitism. I think some of those brownies would make me feel better!


  5. Kristin – when I first saw the pictures of your brownies I thought they had pralines on top!!! Mmmmm…that would be tasty too. I think these are beautiful, cracked as they are, and it probably meant lots of yummy crumbs to pick out of the pan! Keep us updated on your experimentation, I’m really loving all of your takes on the classic brownie (your peanut butter ganache brownies are at the tip top of my to-make list…).

    PS: there’s nothing wrong with hermitism. I find myself slipping into it too, and VA winters aren’t anything close to Chicago winters!

  6. duodishes Says:

    Agreed for a second batch with salted caramel!

  7. Dawn in CA Says:

    I am wondering if the dark color of Martha’s brownies stems from the fact that she used pecans. In my experience, pecans often darken when cooked, which may have colored the caramel. I’m going to have to do some field work (aka – baking and testing) to figure this one out!😉

  8. Val Says:

    As great as the brownies sound I’m more thrilled with your popcorn recipe. How lucky for me. Netflix movies just arrived & your popcorn recipe will make “movie night” extra special tonight! Thank you for sharing your ideas. ;o}

  9. christina Says:

    Ohh, I’m so jelous, I saw those in my Martha Stewart cookie book but I haven’t gotten to them yet(must lose weight from the other cookies in the book). Lucky you!


  10. Nothing wrong with being a Hermit. I enjoy a night in with comfy pants, a big hoodie sweatshirt and a boxed DVD TV show🙂

  11. holler Says:

    Wow, these are brownies unlike any I have ever seen before. Gorgeous🙂


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