LaBoum Brunch and Birthday Brownies

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There is a legendary brunch here in DC called LaBoum, which derives from the French vernacular for “house party.” Although it takes place in a little understated restaurant near Adams Morgan, nothing about this brunch experience is modest or quaint. It’s sort of a DC rite of passage, and I feel like you have to go at least once just to say you did it.

That being the case, it was obviously the perfect choice for my roommate Amanda’s birthday. We rallied a fun group of girls and met up at our friend Kelsey’s for mimosas and apps before heading over to the main event (yes, we ate before going to a brunch. LaBoum is, shall we say, more dancing and less eating?). And since no birthday would be complete without special sweets, there was, of course, baking. Amanda is sort of obsessed with dark chocolate and anything salted caramel. With cheesecake on her list too, I found something right on the money (and these things WERE money – pure gold, if I do say so myself): salted caramel and toffee cheesecake brownies. I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that.

Since I’d be baking these after work on a Friday and slicing and garnishing them before our pre-brunch festivities Saturday morning, I admittedly took a shortcut with this recipe and used boxed brownie mix. For the record, I don’t think there is any shame at all cutting corners when it works. No need to reinvent the wheel all the time, and most times the result is just as good! So, instead of baking the brownie layer from scratch, I just went ahead and found a boxed dark chocolate brownie mix with a baking time on par with that called for in the recipe. I prepared the batter as called for on the box and then just followed the remainder of the recipe as instructed.

After mixing together the cheesecake layer, I prepared the baking pan by lining it with foil. I find that for bars and brownies, lining the pan with foil is easier than just greasing it, since you can just pull on the foil edges and remove the whole thing from the pan at one time before cutting it. I spread the brownie layer into the bottom of the pan, topped with toffee bites (generously, and I didn’t regret it), and then moved onto the cheesecake layer. Be sure to pour the cheesecake mixture so as to distribute it evenly across as much of the pan as possible. This will minimize the need to excessively spread it with the knife or spatula and disturb the already-poured layers. You want everything to stay in tact as much as possible, so be very gentle as you distribute the cheesecake mixture.

I baked as directed, let it cool, and then, since I wasn’t serving it until the next day, put it in the fridge. The next morning, I ran a sharp knife under super hot water (to help make straight, clean slices) and sliced this block of goodness right up. I arranged the brownies on a cake stand, and garnished each one with a drizzle of caramel and sprinkle of sea salt. They were so pretty that I didn’t want to mess them up by covering them with foil, so I may have just gotten in the Uber with the cake stand as-is and headed to Kelsey’s with the roomies. And by “may have,” I mean “that definitely happened.” Christyn captured it, while I was ‘gramming, of course.

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In case you had any doubts, these. things. were. amazing. Everyone loved them, and thank God we left them all at Kelsey’s when we went to brunch, because we did not need those things in our house and readily accessible. Speaking of brunch, LaBoum definitely lived up to all the stories we’d heard (including the la-BOOM in my head the next morning). It’s definitely not for the faint of heart (or faint of bank account), but we had a blast dancing and toasting endless bottles (yes, bottles) of champagne to the birthday girl! Check that one off the bucket list – that’s a wrap.

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Salted Caramel and Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

Adapted from My Invisible Crown

INGREDIENTS

Brownie Layer:

1 box preferred brownie mix, with batter prepared as instructed (I used dark chocolate)
Approximately 3/4 cup toffee bits

Cheesecake Layer:

2-8 oz packages cream cheese
1/2 and 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Topping:

Caramel Sauce (I just used store bought!)
Course Sea Salt (I like large crystals)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil and set aside.

2. Prepare brownie batter as instructed on box, and set aside.

3. Now mix up the cheesecake layer. Add the sugar, yogurt and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. Add the vanilla, and mix in by hand.

4. Time to assemble the layers. Pour the brownie batter into your pan and smooth it out. Sprinkle evenly with toffee bits. Spoon or slowly pour the cheesecake layer gently onto the toffee chips so as not to disturb. You want defined layers, so be very gentle here! Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The precise time will depend on your oven, so check it early! Dry, hard brownies are almost as bad as crunchy cookies, and we all know how I feel about those.

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool until set. Use a sharp knife to cut into slices, and garnish with caramel and sea salt.

6. Dig in!

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