While everyone else was thinking toward virtuosity today, I decided to go in the other direction and make some very decadent dessert bars.
First layer: chocolate chip cookie base.
Obviously, I used Christmas M&Ms (that I'd bought on sale at CVS after Christmas) and sort of used this recipe, except that I meant to half the recipe but I forgot after the butter. So, basically, it's that recipe with half the butter. I thought it was an interesting touch to dissolve the baking powder in water before mixing it in with the liquid ingredients. I might do this all of the time, because it helps you to know whether your baking powder is active or not.
After baking the crust, I made caramel using this recipe. The only difference is that I didn't have light corn syrup, so I used dark. It was delicious.
I didn't use all of the caramel. I only wanted to put a thin layer on the crust, so I got to refrigerate about half of the caramel for later use!
I wanted the third layer to be brownies, and considered baking the brownies in the Springform pan, but was concerned that it would degrade the caramel, or that the caramel and brownie might bake together. So instead, I baked the brownie batter separately. I did correctly halve this deep-dish brownie recipe to make what I needed for the dessert.
To top the whole thing off, I made a water ganache. This is the easiest thing. Just melt chocolate chips, and then stir in a couple of tablespoons of warm water at a time until you reach the consistency you want. At first, yes, the chocolate will seize up and you'll think that you did something wrong and ruined everything. You didn't. Using water instead of heavy cream helps the chocolate flavor stay strong. You can add chili powder (not with other spices; just chili; check your labels!) or red pepper or cinnamon (which I added).
Hats off to those of you who started eating healthier today! :)