It’s after midnight, and I’m sitting here at my desk in a white camisole splattered with caramel and chocolate. I swear I’ve washed my hands about a dozen times, but they still look lightly dusted in flour.
Let me start off by saying, I am a terrible baker. I’m a pretty good cook, but I am a terrible baker.
But a few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who happens to be a marketing manager at Goetze’s Candy, asked if I’d whip up a few batches of baked goods for their annual sales meeting. She’d send me samples, recipes and cover costs. Total no brainer! I love Goetze’s Cow Tales and have since the early 1990’s, when I first came across them as a young grad student in Chicago. If you’ve never had a Cow Tale, put it on your bucket list of eating, because they are really good. They’re this soft caramel rope, lightly dusted on the outside so they’re not sticky; and then filled with a lovely, lickable creme. It’s the contrast in texture…chewy caramel, delicate creme…that makes them so delicious. And, they don’t have that cloying sweetness that most candy seems to have these days. You can eat a Cow Tale, and not feel like you’re on a chemically-induced sugar high.
Anyway, so the deal was that I’d make one batch each of four different recipes for Goetze’s annual sales meeting. Two of them were super easy, variations on crispy rice treats that turned out really good. If you’re looking to do something for a bake sale that is super easy with a twist, these are great go to’s. They literally took me less than 15 minutes from start to finish, and were an awesome improvement on the tried but tired rice crispy treats. Even if there is no bake sale, give these a shot. The addition of the Goetze’s candy really does make a difference. Here’s a picture of the caramel apple spice crispy treat. So good!
The third batch was a fan-submitted recipe. This sounded good in theory, but was actually more labor intensive than I expected. It involved a mandoline, multiple freezer sessions, and individually cut wax paper doilies for presentation. But, you know what? Even though my version looked like shaz, this was probably my favorite recipe. It called for fresh apple slices, which made for awesome flavor and texture. I’ll definitely be playing with this recipe in the future. Here’s the original recipe for Caramel Creams Apple Bars.
The fourth recipe was (initially) a total dud, and it was entirely my fault, three times over. Did I mention that I am a terrible baker? The fourth recipe that Goetze provided, was the most historic. Goetze has been around since 1895, and this brownie recipe was one that was passed down through generations. It is literally the recipe that was included on the back of the package of original Caramel Cremes. This particular recipe has been in use for decades, and yet this is the recipe that I completely boffed multiple times. I present Goetze’s very own Caramel Filled Brownies.
I am a terrible baker.
In hindsight, it’s obvious why my initial attempts failed. When you cook, if you are missing an ingredient, you either sub one in, or you delete it. In baking, there are no such options. With this brownie recipe, I didn’t have enough of the right kind of chocolate, so I initially omitted the bit I was missing. That was Mistake #1.
Mistake #2. The recipe clearly directs the baker to beat the egg mixture “on high for 5 minutes or until smooth.” In my mind, five minutes was a suggestion. I beat the mixture until it looked smooth to me. Now I realize that bakers are very literal. They are truly, significantly, literally, literal. Those extra two minutes make a difference. Beat those eggs for a full five minutes. You’ll know it’s enough because the volume of the mixture doubles at the minimum, and they look like a thick, luscious creme, not like scrambled eggs.
Mistake #3. That caramel sauce. When I made the Goetze’s caramel sauce, I thought the proportions were horribly wrong, so I compensated by adding an extra quarter cup of evaporated milk. Never mind that this recipe has been around since the early 1900’s. I must certainly be the first person to have noticed this error. Well, that extra evaporated milk that I added is more than likely the reason that I’m still up right now, waiting for my third batch of brownies to cool while everyone else in the household is snuggled up in their down comforters blissfully snoozing.
On the plus side, this batch looks really great, and I’m ecstatic to know that sleep is just a few brownie cuts away.