Caramelized White Chocolate Brownies with Cranberry Swirl / by Chelsea Zwieg

I don't listen to the radio in the morning too often, since most mornings I am tucked away in the bomb shelter that is the bakery kitchen with no radio signal. It's fine, my classic combo of Twenty One Pilots, Macklemore and Christmas music gets me through just fine. But last week I was driving to church after work, downing my coffee and listening to Ryan Seacrest and in between the Top 40 countdown he was doing a segment called Tell Me Something Good. Apparently this is a regular thing but it was my first time hearing it and I almost exploded with happiness. Basically anyone can call in with anything good that that they want to talk about. The most simple concept in the world and yet why is no one else doing it?? I don't just mean on the radio. I mean IN LIFE. 

Whether the election didn't work out like you thought or you are happy with the results, I think we can all agree that the black cloud of negativity, stress and anxiety that has been hanging over our heads for months has descended in a thick suffocating mass of general nastiness. Everyone is mad at someone who is mad at someone else who can't believe the news they just read and what is even happening to the world. This isn't to say that a lot of this fear and stress and anxiety isn't completely legitimate. And I'm not trying to minimize any of the problems that are no doubt lurking in the back of people's mind even as they read this post about brownies. Trust me, I get it. I get it so much that a radio segment called Tell Me Something Good made me want to cry actual tears because I just so want to hear anything good. 


So instead of stressing myself out even more and loading you down with even more election opinions, I am going to trust that my opinions probably matter a negative amount to you this much after the fact (or any point really) and I am instead going to tell you something(s) good! 

Thanksgiving is in 6 days! (wat up food coma) 

Christmas is in 37 days and The North Pole has a webcam (obviously legit) 

Gilmore Girls is coming back next week and I have only been waiting for this moment for 10 YEARS! 

It's ok to be a Hufflepuff now (pretty sure I'm still a Gryffindor, but hey) 

It's holiday party time which is a perfect reason to make these chips,  this brie and all these other appetizers .

The horrible substance known as white chocolate is now not only bearable, but wonderful.

That's right! The best news you could ever hope for in a time of political insecurity: white chocolate isn't as bad as we all thought it was. I feel like I've met maybe two people in my whole life who really can get down with some white chocolate. Pretty much everyone else echoes my sentiments that it is too sweet, a little plasticy and also not actually chocolate. But. Roasting white chocolate in the oven causes those overpowering sugars to caramelize and transforms the ugly duckling of chocolate into a caramel colored, nutty, butterscotchy substance that is so far beyond what you can imagine. 

My first batch of caramelized white chocolate went into these brownies but now all I can think about is how good it would be as a hot chocolate, in a frosting, in peppermint bark, in cookies, in ice cream....I never thought I would be saying this, but my grocery store better stock up on the white chocolate this month because I am coming for all of it. 

Now, let's talk about these brownies. The first thing I was in love with while roasting the chocolate is the smell. It's kind of like a cross between caramel, butterscotch and freshly baked cookies. Give it a little time and I can guarantee Bath and Body works will have a caramelized white chocolate lotion right next to all the gingerbread hand soap you could ever want. I was worried that the flavor would get masked once the chocolate was added to the brownies, but it wasn't. They taste exactly like the chocolate smells with a super fudgy texture and perfectly crackly top. I added in a little cranberry swirl because tis' the season and also the tart berries go perfectly with the sweetness of the brownie. Can I just say how sad I am that these are all gone right now?? I may need to fix that. 

So go on with your Thursday, make these brownies and please please tell someone something good! 

Caramelized White Chocolate Brownies with Cranberry Swirl 

Adapted from Marbled, Layered, Swirled

Note: Be sure to use a high quality white chocolate, not white chocolate chips or a really cheap bar. Just check the ingredients to make sure cocoa butter is listed (the higher percentage the better), which is what makes it melt easily. A white chocolate without it will just clump and dry out. I used Ghiradelli bars which worked just fine. 

| Ingredients | 

  • 10 oz. white chocolate, chopped (see note) 
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cup flour

For the swirl: 

  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar


| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300. Place the white chocolate in a glass baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, stirring and spreading the chocolate every 5-10 minutes. You want it to reach a shade close to peanut butter. Don't be afraid to take it darker for more flavor. 
  • Meanwhile, place the cranberries, water, orange juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the berries have burst and the mixture becomes syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside. 
  • Once the chocolate is caramelized, increase the oven temp to 350. Line a 9x13 pan in parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides for easy removal. Beat the butter and sugars in a stand mixer for 1 minute. Add the olive oil and continue to beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 more minutes. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and beating after each addition. Scrape the caramelized white chocolate into the bowl and beat until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until combined. 
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and smooth into an even layer. Place spoonfuls of the cranberry mixture across the batter and swirl gently with a knife. Just do a few swoops and swirls, too many and the whole thing will turn pink. If the cranberries have sat for too long and are very thick, mix in a few drops of water before adding them to the brownies to get it to a jam like consistency. 
  • Bake 35-40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.