All the 'caramel' and 'brownies' I've had up until now have been imposters. No seriously, box mix brownies can taste pretty awesome, but if that's a brownie, these are a whole new category unto themselves. Fudgy. Salty. Sweet. Caramelly decadence.
Have you ever had a Werther's Original caramel? What about really good homemade fudge? Ok, if you liquified a whole mess of Werther's and made them salty and then swirled them into fudge, that would somewhat approximate what these taste like. Bonus: the salted caramel recipe makes more than you need for the brownies so you can drizzle more over the finished brownies or ice cream or just eat it with a spoon (not that I did that or anything).
4 simple ingredients make up the salted caramel. Just make sure your butter and cream are at room temperature.
To make the caramel you caramelize the sugar, whisk in the salt, then butter. Then you remove it from the heat and whisk in the cream. I had to return mine to low heat to scrape down the pan a little more and get rid of some of the lumps of caramelized sugar.
To make the brownies you should prep your pan with greased overlapping foil or parchment paper like this:
The batter has just under a half pound of chocolate. I used chocolate drops that my dear friend Samantha brought me from The Netherlands as well as some Lindt 90% cacao. Behold! Copious amounts of chocolate!
Then you melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or you could microwave in small increments-say 20 seconds-and stir until they melt). You can make a double boiler with a metal mixing bowl like so:
Then you get everything mixed up. Once your batter is ready to go you pour half the batter into the prepped pan, then put 9 dollops of caramel on top.
Then the other half of the batter and 9 more dollops of caramel. Then you drag a knife through the batter to swirl. Only do THREE or FOUR swipes with the knife. Being the artsy girl that I am I just couldn't leave well enough alone and I over-swirled. So a lot of my caramel dissolved into the batter. Less is definitely more with the swirling.
Let them cool for at least an hour before cutting into 16 squares. You'll notice that a couple brownies mysteriously disappeared during the cutting phase:
Salted Caramel Brownies
Yields 16 brownies
(adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker, who adapted it from Baking Illustrated)
7 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (the higher the percentage of cacao the more chocolatey these are gonna taste)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Sea salt, finely ground (I ground up coarse sea salt in my mortar)
1. Prep an 8 by 8 inch pan with greased overlapping foil or parchment. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or the microwave) until incorporated, then whisk in the cocoa powder.
3. In another bowl, whisk together everything EXCEPT the chocolate mixture, caramel, and flour. Then stir in the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the flour until just combined.
4. Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. Add 9 dollops of caramel. Then gently spread the other half of the batter over the top. Then add 9 more dollops of caramel and swirl with a knife with 3 or 4 passes max. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan at least an hour or until caramel is mostly set. Then use the foil or parchment as handles to remove from pan.
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat whisk the sugar until it caramelizes.
2. Whisk in the salt.
3. Whisk in the butter, scrape the sides and bottom of the pan, and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth.
4. Remove from heat and gradually add the cream while continuing to whisk. You can return to low-medium heat for a few minutes if your mixture is lumpy. Remove from heat and allow to set up at least 10 minutes before using. Left over caramel should be stored in the fridge.