I will never forgive Leslie for introducing me to the wonders of salted caramel. Come to think of it, my mom was telling me about salted caramel last week too. So I guess I can’t fully blame my pastor’s wife. However, the full responsibility for adding sweet and salty caramel sauce to rich decadent brownies is on Leslie’s shoulders. She is a genius for suggesting it. As soon as she mentioned the combination – I was intrigued. Normally I’m a “I’d like some more sweet with my sweet” kind of gal, but I looooooove caramel, and the idea of adding a kick of salt to it seemed totally natural. Pairing it with chocolate? Well, might as well just get me a chair because that kind of deliciousness requires me to sit down and catch my breath.
I spent a few days researching recipes. You’d be surprised how many are out there. Really, you could pair your favorite brownie recipe (even *gasp!* a boxed mix) and whatever caramel sauce you like, but I decided to go all out for this one. I borrowed from a couple different sites after reading about a dozen variations for caramel sauces and techniques. I wanted the brownie to be rich. Fudge-y. Dark. Not too sweet. And the caramel to be salty and sweet and running all over the brownies. Some of the recipes called for a layer of caramel over the already baked brownies. Some used the caramel on the side as a dipping sauce. I wanted caramel swirled through every bite, drizzling and dripping out of the corners. So that’s just what I did.
A warning before you make these. You will want to eat the caramel straight from the pan. I feel almost ill because I couldn’t stop eating it with a spoon. The nice (or bad) thing is, this batch of caramel sauce will give you some extra…so you’ll almost feel ok just eating it on it’s own. But, if you manage to save any of it, it would be perfect on ice cream, or with apples. Set it next to you at dinner and gaze longingly across the table at it. You know, whatever you want. Bottom line, this recipe is kind of like torture. You make the caramel sauce and then have to force yourself to make the brownie batter instead of just sitting on the couch with the caramel bowl and a spoon. Then, when the brownies come out of the oven, you have to let them cool before you can eat them…and they smell and look so good. Oh. The sweet torture.
Hellooooooo. Is it wrong to be in love with a food?
Salted Caramel Sauce (from Souffle Bombay)
6 TBS heavy cream
2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a small bowl combine cream and sea salt, stir well.
In a medium saucepan add water, then sugar and corn syrup. Stir together just a bit. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not stir it. You may swirl your pan a little, but do. not. stir. If you don’t have a thermometer, just pull the sugar off the heat when it is a medium goldish brown – it will continue to cook in the heat of the pan. Better to pull it too early than too late. It turns light amber then a caramel color very quickly once it starts to come to temperature. Carefully remove from heat, quickly whisk in the cream mixture – the sauce will bubble violently. This is normal. Be sure you are whisking while your pour in the cream. Scrape any bits of salt from the bottom of the bowl and add to your sauce. Stir in butter and vanilla. Let sauce come to room temperature. At that point you can cover and chill for later use…keeps well in a sealed jar for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Salted Caramel Brownies (from the Brown Eyed Baker)
Yield: 16 brownies
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
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 above)
Fine sea salt
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with overlapping pieces of foil and spray the foil.
2. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt the chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. (Or, melt in the microwave on 50% power for 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.) Whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool.
3. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture slowly (or you might get scrambled eggs!); then stir in the flour until just combined. Pour about half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread into the corners. Spoon 9 dollops of Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. Top with the remaining brownie mixture, spread into the corners and level the surface with a spatula. Again, spoon 9 dollops of the Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. With a dull butter knife, gently run it through the batter to swirl the batter just a bit (don’t do it too much or it will all mix together). Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top.
4. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.