Passed down recipes are always the best. Anyone that grew up around my girlfriend Elisabeth is familiar with these brownies – known simply as “Elisabeth’s mom’s brownies”. This original recipe comes from her great aunt but has been modified here. This recent batch of brownies was prepared for our housewarming party and may have been the best batch yet. To be honest, we didn’t actually put peanut butter or walnuts in the brownies in case of any nut allergies. And don’t let their appearance fool you, these brownies taste better than they look; one time a friend stepped in a batch of these, thought he had stepped in dog poop and as he was scraping it off, was surprised that it didn’t smell. Ignore the purple glow in the picture – heavenly as these brownies are, it’s not a halo from heaven – it’s just the light from my TV.
10 oz individually-wrapped soft caramels
2/3 cup nonfat evaporated milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 package dark chocolate cake mix (use yellow cake for blondies)
1/2 cup Smart Balance Light (or similar)
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1T cocoa powder
1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Microwave for 2 minutes on medium heat, stir, and continue to cook until completely melted, checking every 30-60 seconds.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and lightly dust with cocoa powder. In a large bowl combine cake mix, Smart Balance, the remaining evaporated milk and walnuts, if using. Stir until well mixed using your hands if necessary.
3. Press half of the cake batter into the bottom of the dish to form a flat layer. Bake for 6 minutes in the oven. Remove the dish and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, then pour on the caramel and drizzle the peanut butter on last. Spread the remaining batter on top in patches and smooth out. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature then cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut up into small pieces and celebrate!