Caramel Kahlua Brownies

Yes, I know that brownies are not cookies.  But seriously.  Caramel + Kahlua + pecans = opportunity that Jillian just could not pass up.    I actually like to make my own caramel by heating sweetened condensed milk, an idea which was inspired by a delicious caramel pie that my friend (and then-roommate), Jackie, made during our freshman year of college.  It is really simple to do (just takes a few hours) and tastes delicious.

In other news, spring has arrived in New York, and it seems to have elevated moods all around the city!  So many people with whom I have spoken have said how happy they are today.  Hurray for spring!

Caramel Kahlua Brownies
8 tbs hot melted butter
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbs Kahlua
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup  + 2 tbs all-purpose flour, spooned and swept
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. To caramelise the condensed milk, place in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer about 2-3 hours.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Be careful when opening the cans as the heat will have increased the pressure and some caramelised milk may squirt out.  It is best to poke a small hole using a can opener and allow the pressure to decrease before actually opening the can.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
3. Spread the pecans in a single layer on baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes or until fragrant.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a double boiler over gently simmering water.  Stir in the unsweetened chocolate.  When this is melted, stir in the the sugar and salt until at least partially dissolved and remove from heat.
4. Beat chocolate mixture 20 strokes with a mixing spoon. Beat in Kahlua. If mixture seems very hot, let cool for about 2 minutes, then beat in eggs, one by one. Add flour and stir just until combined. Spread a little over 1/3 of this mixture (enough to cover) over bottom of pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set hot pan in freezer to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Pour caramel mixture over cooked brownie layer.  Spread until it is about 1/2 inch away from the edges, as it will radiate outward when you add the top layer of brownie batter.
6. Stir half the chocolate chips into remaining brownie better. Carefully drop and spread brownie batter over caramel layer, cover caramel as much as possible. Stir together remaining chocolate chips and he toasted pecans. Sprinkle chocolate chip/pecan mixture over top of brownies. Return to oven and bake on center rack for 30 minutes or until top appears set.
7. Let cool completely on a rack, then chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Cut into squares.

Makes 12

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