Salty Caramel Brownies

These brownies are definitely special. They're a bit of a project, but you can make the caramel ahead if you like and refrigerate it until you're ready to make brownies. The caramel in them is pretty subtle - it's just a thin layer in the middle of the brownie, and that's what makes these so delicious. You almost can't tell it's there, it just makes for a delicious brownie. I would also be sure to use the sugar and salt on top - it makes them deliciously crunchy and the salt is perfect. The recipe is adapted from the Baked Explorations cookbook. Go make brownies. Yum.


SALTY CARAMEL BROWNIES

For the caramel:

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/2 ounces (156 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use 70% dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (53 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons or so coarse sugar (or regular white sugar) for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon or so flaky sea salt for sprinkling

First, make the caramel: Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally and trying not to splash the sides of the pan too much. After 10 or 15 minutes, the sugar will start to brown - watch carefully, and take the caramel off the heat as soon as it's a deep amber color. (If you want to use a candy thermometer, this is about 350°F, but I usually just go by appearance.) Stir in the cream, and be careful - it will bubble up a little. Mix in the salt and sour cream, and stir or whisk until all the sour cream is melted in.

Next, make brownies: Preheat the oven to 350°F; butter an 8" x 8" pan and line with a strip of parchment for easy removal. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. In a mixing bowl set over boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Remove the bowl from the boiling water, and stir in both sugars. Stir in vanilla. The mixture shouldn't be too hot anymore; a little warm is ok, but if it still feels hot, let it cool for a few minutes. Add in the eggs and egg yolk. Last, mix in the flour/cocoa mixture, and be sure not to over mix at this point. 

Pour half of the brownie batter into the bottom of the pan. Next, pour the caramel over - you want just a very thin layer over the batter, leaving about a 1/2" border around the edge. I find that a little more than 1/4 cup or so is just about right. You want to avoid going out to the very edges, because it tends to squish out and can burn. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the top, and spread with a spatula to even it out and cover the caramel. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, sprinkle with a healthy layer of sugar, and the coarse sea salt. Let them cool fully before cutting.