There are no words that can truly express the pure and utter joy I currently have. Not because we won the lotto or anything trivial like that. But because I can finally post these brownies.Let me tell you the story that led to this glorious moment.
It all started when I was trying to think of something to do for my friends at Wilton. It had been a while since I posted for the #WiltonTreatTeam so I knew I wanted to do something. I also knew I wanted to take advantage of it being spring so I definitely wanted to go fresh and vibrant. But what? Citrus cake? Maybe fruity cupcakes? I started looking around my kitchen and noticed I had a few different bags of candy melts, and that’s when it hit me.
I remembered seeing Red Velvet Brownies during the Wilton Sweet-Up and thinking how clever is was to use candy melts in something like that. So with that lingering in my head and noticing I had Key Lime Pie candy melts….
Perfect. It’s something different you could do with candy melts so why not. I opened the bag up so the wife and I could taste a few and quickly thought, “eh.. I could just get another one from the store,” and proceeded to snack on half the bag while brainstorming. A trip to every store in my area proved that Wilton is not kidding when they say “Limited Edition” candy melts. I couldn’t find the Key Lime Pie flavor anywhere! Nothing but empty bins and employees that laughed when I asked as if I walked into a store at 6pm on Black Friday looking for the t.v.on the front page. I was told they already sold out of their stock they’re going to have for the whole season. Desperate and shaking now, I started calling nearby cities and finally found a Michael’s that had 3 bags left. I asked to hold 2 in case someone else is searching for them, and the next day I drove 40 minutes to pick them up.
Determination. Get some.
Candy melts in hand, I was ready to get to work. Now if you know me, you know brownies are the bane of my existence. There was a time when I was good, real good, but now it’s like every brownie recipe has it out for me. To spare the details, I went through my 2 bags that I made the journey to Mordor for. Not knowing what else to do, I succumbed to my wife’s pleads as I was sobbing in the corner and just contacted Wilton. Awesome like they are, I was sent enough bags to work with and my will was given new life. Even after another failed attempt (freaking brownies, I swear), I was bound and determined to succeed. If not for me, then by God, I’m doing it for Wilton!
Third time’s a charm, they say, and they are right!
Sure, they’re not exactly what I envisioned when I first thought up the idea. But they’re pretty darn good. So good, despite being bad batches, we still ate the heck out of them. It was pretty hard to resist too. Every time I saw them sitting there I kinda blacked out, and the next thing I knew I was chewing on one and had two more in my hand. After a few of those episodes I gave some away to neighbors to help wean me off of the addictiveness. Originally I had plans to implement coconut in there, maybe marshmallow to act as the meringue you find on a key lime pie. But I’m perfectly happy with the fairly spot on key lime flavor and the graham crust on the bottom.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention? There’s a graham crust on the bottom.
I’m also happy accomplishing the challenge of making a post showing something different you could do with Wilton’s candy melts. Yeah, we all know they’re great for making candy and molded chocolate, but they’re also great for other things you would normally use regular chocolate chips for. Hopefully these prove that and then some.
Key Lime Brownies (adapted from allrecipes)
1 cup ~ Sugar
1/4 cup ~ Butter
1/4 cup ~ Key Lime Juice
3 cups ~ Wilton Key Lime Pie Candy Melts
4 each ~ Eggs
1 teaspoon ~ Vanilla Extract
1 1/3 cups ~ Flour
1/2 teaspoon ~ Baking Soda
1 teaspoon ~ Salt
1 1/2 cups ~ Graham Crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons ~ Sugar
Pinch of Salt
6 tablespoons ~ Butter
- By definition, a brownie is typically chocolate. I know it probably would’ve made more sense to call these Key Lime Bars or something like that. But honestly, would it have caught your attention? No, brownies catch your attention. I stand by calling these brownies because it’s based off of a brownie recipe, and because structure wise, they share a lot of common similarities. So if you disagree and think they’re more of a bar, to you I say: Potato, po-tah-toe.
- I used a 9×9 square baking pan. So if you use something different be sure to adjust the baking time.
- And the amount of ingredients.
- Basically just change the whole recipe.
- If you’re curious, 1 1/2 cups of crushed graham crackers equals about 1 1/2 packages of graham crackers (they come 3 packages in a box). Also, 3 cups of candy melts comes out to about 2 bags worth so plan accordingly.
- You can sub regular lime juice for the key lime juice, no problem.
- More notes and tips can be found below in the section titled About brownies.
(this is the section titled) About brownies
Brownie batter is a temperamental beast with mood swings and a nasty attitude. At least, it is with me. I’ve lost all my luck with making brownies and I have no idea why. I used to make brownies behind the line of a busy restaurant while cooking whatever orders I had. And they always came out great! Something about being domesticated must have smothered my brownie making fire.
To my defense, it is rather easy to mess up brownies. There are a number of factors you need to consider and keep in check or else the universe is going to seem like it;s using you to clean its shoe whenever you try whipping up a batch. Especially with this recipe, as I have learned.
When following a recipe, be sure to stay true to it. If it says they used a certain pan, try and use that pan. If it’s a certain amount of time, keep an eye on the timer. And if it’s a certain temperature, don’t mess with it.
If you use a bigger pan, then the cooking time is effected because the original time was for that certain pan. If they used an 9×9 and you’re using a 9×13, your mix will have more room to spread out and in turn it will cook faster and not have as much volume as intended. So your end product will definitely be different than what you’re supposed to get. But it’s ok, just go back and complain to whoever that the recipe sucked. (I’m jk, don’t do that, it’s done enough.)
Temperature is important because if your oven is running hotter or you think a few more degrees won’t hurt it, then you’re in for a treat. If the oven is too hot for the batter, the edges of the pan will be done way before the center. You’ll have nice, brown edges and a nice jiggly, undone center. This is something that leads to sunken brownies because of the raised, done edges and a middle that isn’t ready.
Making the batter:
When making the batter, the one, most crucial thing to remember is do not overmix it. Whenever I made brownies, whether it was years ago at work or today at home, I always made them by hand. I never used a mixer and you don’t really need to. There is no creaming of butter and sugar like you would a cake, there’s no whipping till fluffy, there’s just mixing. And the absolute best, most perfect tools in your kitchen are your own two hands. So use them.
When you overmix brownies you’re doing a few things.
You’re incorporating air. And that is most definitely a bad thing in batters. It happens a lot in cakes and it’s notorious in brownies. Think of making whipped cream.. When you whip cream, you’re incorporating air, making it light and fluffy. It’s exactly what you’re looking for and it’s great. But brownies aren’t meant to be light and fluffy, they’re meant to be moist and chewy. So if you overmix the batter and incorporate air, the dry heat from the oven is going to make that air in the batter rise quicker and greater than what it should, causing it to not bake properly. Once you take it out of the oven, all the air that was inflated will deflate when it hits the cooler kitchen, giving you a sad, depressing sunken pan of brownies. You’ll find the edges done, which is good for the freaking edges, but the center won’t be.
It’s hard to recuperate after that. And I don’t mean the brownies, I mean you. This is the reason for my sobbing in the corner when I had to call in for reinforcements from Wilton. In case you’re trying to remember where I stand with my manhood and ability to cope with disasters.
Another thing you’re doing with overmixing is creating gluten. Gluten is great. I freaking heart gluten hard. But we’re talking things like bread where you’re aiming to create gluten by working the dough; kneading, resting, kneading again. You don’t want the tough, chewy, air pocket infested insides that you desire in bread to be in your brownies. Again, you want moist, soft, melt in your mouth chewiness that you need a cold glass of milk to wash down. But if you overmix the batter, you won’t get that. Know what you’ll get? Another trip to your tear soaked pillow wondering why the world hates you.
So just do us a favor…
- Don’t overmix your brownies.
- Mix by hand. Use a wooden spoon. It’s easier to overmix with something like a whisk.
- When you add the eggs, add them one at a time. Wait till one is almost fully incorporated then add the other. If you put 4 eggs in at once and try to work them in, they won’t let you. You’ll be swirling 4 eggs around a pan with batter swirling right along next to it. One at a time ensures you’ll get each one into your batter where it belongs. Everything will emulsify properly, and everything will be as happy as Pharrell Williams.
- The incorporation and adding of the flour and other dry ingredients (all put in together) is where you need to be careful. Mix slowly. Fold in. Stop mixing the second you see the last streak of flour disappear into the batter. Ok, give it a few pushes around to see if there are big clumps that will pop when touched, but other than that put the spoon down and walk away. You will more than likely see some clumps, and it’s not really pretty to look at. But the risk is not worth getting those out. Just make sure there are no huge ones. And if you’re mixing something like nuts into the batter, be mindful and do it before all the flour is incorporated. That way everything can be mixed in and be done at the same time. If you must, hire someone. Tell your kid you’ll give them a dollar to slap your hand if they see you trying to get every lump out. You’re probably going to need something because odds are if you’re reading this insanely long post then you’ve had problems with brownies in the past too. So there will be urges to overmix and you just have to say no.
I think we’re safe now. Covered all the bases. Let’s wrap this up and get on with it!
- First thing to do is get the oven on to 325. Then get your graham crackers and put them in a ziplock freezer bag and start pounding away. Use whatever you want, as long as you can get fine crumbs out of it. This is the perfect job for your overly energetic 4 year old that loves Hulk Smashing stuff.
- Next, in a bowl, put your crushed graham crackers together with the sugar and the salt and give it a little mix before adding the melted butter. Make sure you stir it around good trying not to leave any dry spots around.
- Get your pan and give it a good spray of your favorite non-stick stuff. Then put your graham crackers in there and push them down into a flat layer. Just make sure it’s level and even on all sides and corners, with no holes anywhere. Pop the pan in the oven for 20 minutes or until it’s nice and golden.
While that’s in the oven though, let’s work on the batter.
- Take the sugar, butter, and lime juice and put it in a pan. Turn the heat up to med-high and stir making sure everything mixes in.
- Once it starts to boil, take it off the heat and put the 3 cups of candy melts in there. Stir that until it’s nice and smooth.
- Set it aside and let it cool. You don’t want it hot when you add the eggs in there or you’ll get green scrambled eggs. Once cooled, add the vanilla extract and the eggs. One at a time, remember what we talked about? I hope so, I did a lot of talking.
Now here’s where you have to be careful.
- Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together and then add it to the mixture. Stir and fold it slowly, trying to get as much incorporated with every turn of the spoon. And remember to stop when you don’t see anymore flour. Try to break up the big lumps by pounding them out or squishing them against the sides of the pan. Once it’s ready, pour it on top of the graham crust.
- Pop it in the oven, drop the temp to 320, and let it be for 40-50 minutes. Yeah, I know, 320 sounds weird. But hey, that’s what worked. When you take it out of the oven let it cool in the pan for a few hours. Sorry, you still can’t bury your face in it. But after a few hours, take a knife along the edges, flip it out, cut it up, and rejoice!
Like I said, they’re just like brownies except for the whole no chocolate thing. They came out really good, almost better than what I was expecting. With it being my third try I would certainly hope so.
So go ahead, give them try! Break that typical brownie mold and do it with a perfect compliment to the warm weather outside. With all the tough times I had making these, I swore I’d never make them again. But I’m already second guessing that decision. They’re that good.
A few side notes:
In case you didn’t notice, this is the first post I’ve done with my new camera! I love what it could do, but I’m still getting the hang of it.
Why did I put the song I did in this post? Because some constellation must have aligned with the sun and my kitchen because this song played while the phone was on shuffle at the exact moment I took the brownies out of the oven. It was so spot on because it captured my excitement perfectly. I may or may not have jumped up and down singing it while aggressively pointing at the pan of brownies on the stove.