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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Just as Sweet: Broken Pretzel Brownies #FoodieReads

Inspired by Well Behaved Wives: A Novel by Amy Sue Nathan, I made a salted pretzel crust, topped it with a ricotta-chocolate brownie, and drizzled it with homemade caramel. Needless to say: there were lots of steps involved in this dessert - Broken Pretzel Brownies - but it was worth it. This is pure, rich, decadent chocolate-y goodness!


On The Page


Ruth Appelbaum is a newlywed who has just moved into an affluent neighborhood in Philadelphia with her in-laws. To appease her mother-in-law, she begins to attend etiquette classes with a small circle of housewives. Their lessons include a shopping trip to ensure they are dressed and accessorized appropriately. They learn how to set a table and how to engage in conversation with their husbands co-workers. Think Stepford Wives whose sole purpose in life is the edification of their husband's success. Ugh.


But Ruth is different. She has a law degree from Columbia University and longs to study for the bar exam. She wants to affect real change and to make the world a better place. When she discovers that one of their group is the victim of domestic violence, she sets out to protect her friends. And, through the process, she learns that the mentors - including her mother-in-law - are not as vapid and useless as she had initially thought.


This definitely turned both darker and more uplifting than I anticipated. I will certainly look for more books by this author in the future.


On the Plate


As the wives are learning to be good housewives, there was actually quite a bit of food mentioned - from meatballs, meat loaf, brisket, pot roast, roast chicken, baked chicken, chicken fricassee, chicken pot pie, cutlets, noodle soup, and all the side dishes. On the sweet side of things, there was apple cake, Shirley’s swirl kamish bread, rice pudding, cherry turnovers, cinnamon curls, chocolate chip cookies, and more.


I did make meatloaf though I didn't arrange slices into flower petals around a mound of mashed potatoes. And just recently posted some amazing chocolate chip cookies.


But, for this post, I was inspired into the kitchen by a passage about Lillian and her mother Anna who was hospitalized.


"Even though Anna was institutionalized, they had once had happy times. Had shared broken pretzels. She too might be a broken pretzel—and that was okay. Anna had shown her that perfection was overrated. The pieces were just as sweet, just as crunchy."

I definitely wanted to create something with broken pretzels!


Ingredients

Crust

  • 1-1/2 cup pretzels, crushed (I used the Everything Pretzel Thins from Trader Joe's)

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, in a liquid state (heat if needed)

  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Brownie

  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta

  • 6 oz chocolate chips or chunks, melted

  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Caramel

  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup packed organic brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1 1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

  • 1 teaspoon Maldon fleur de sel flakes


Procedure


Crust

Place the crushed pretzels, flour and sugar, in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Melt the butter and coconut oil and pour it into the baking dish. Use a fork to blend it together until clumps form. Press the remaining base lightly into the pan.


Brownie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, melted chocolate, and vanilla. Fold in the ricotta. Spoon the batter into the pan with the pretzel crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The brownies will be dark brown, slightly crispy at the edges and firm on the top. While the brownies are cooling, make the caramel.


Caramel


In a medium-size pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, honey, whipping cream, butter and sea salt flakes. Simmer over medium heat, monitoring the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring. When the thermometer reaches 244 degrees remove the pot from the heat. Cool for at least 10 minutes. You'll need about 1/2 cup of caramel.




To finish...

Place intact pretzel thins on top of the brownie. Cut into small pieces. Drizzle with caramel. Enjoy!


I am adding this post to the Febuary 2023 #FoodieReads link-up, here.

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4 Comments


hlr
Feb 13, 2023

That book sounds really interesting

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Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
Feb 22, 2023
Replying to

It was!

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Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
Feb 06, 2023

Great inspiration for the recipe Cam. I'm glad you enjoyed the book

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Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
Feb 06, 2023
Replying to

For some reason that passage stuck with me and I have been seeing most things that way these days - the sweet with the broken. Navigating this empty nest is harder than I anticipated!

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