On Saturday, November 8th, my baking pal Angela Steinkamp and I both participated in Pastry Chicago's 4th Annual Brownie Competition, held at Alliance Paper & Foodservice Equipment in Lombard, Illinois.  

It was fun coming up with just the right brownie to submit for this competition.  I started with Baked's Sweet and Salty Brownie recipe as my base brownie; it has always been a favorite among family and friends, and I pretty much have it committed to memory by now!  I experimented with making a mocha (marsh)mallow swirl brownie with bourbon salted caramel... then a mocha cheesecake swirl brownie with bourbon salted caramel.  Both were good enough, but they didn't have any kind of "wow factor" to them.  I scrapped the coffee flavor completely for my final experimentation, which yielded my entry: Bourbon Salted Caramel Brownies with Caramel Butterscotch Buttercream and Cocoa Nib Brittle.  Angela submitted truly scrumptious Chili Bourbon Brownies with Cinnamon-Chili Dulce de Leche Buttercream; these were so yummy, I knew I already had some pretty stiff competition right there!

There were about 22 entries in the competition.  Brownies were being judged according to the following criteria: 60% Taste, 25% Texture, 10% Creativity, and 5% Punctuality and Professionalism.  While our brownies were being taste-tasted, we enjoyed a live brownie baking demo by a pastry chef from the French Pastry School of Chicago, followed by a little shopping in the store.

The top 5 brownies were awarded - and sadly, neither Angela's brownies nor mine placed.  We may not have snagged the grand prize Kitchen Aid, but we both walked away that day with several compliments on our brownies and huge smiles on our faces knowing we gave it our best shot and had a lot of fun in the process.  Huge congratulations to the winners, and I think I can safely say that I do not care to bake another brownie for a little while...

If you'd like to make your own Bourbon Salted Caramel Brownies, visit the recipe on Recipes page.  Enjoy!