I feel terrible. I actually forgot my blog’s first birthday. That’s almost as bad as forgetting my child’s birthday! Ok, maybe not that bad, but still… Other bloggers do giveaways, others bake themselves cake… I not only forgot the day (which was the 5th), I also haven’t even blogged for a whole month. Inexcusable! As a belated Happy Birthday (at least it’s still February) I baked myself some brownies. Not just any old brownies mind you. No, these are extra decadent, extra sweet, extra fattening and extra delicious. They have a layer of melty, sticky, gooey caramel oozing out of the middle. Uh huh. Yup. Caramel. To be precise, salted caramel. Even better. Check out the golden stuff trying to escape from within the chocolate sandwich of fudgy-in-some-spots, crunchy-in-other-spots, brownie layers.
And how about those shapes? Clever or what? Another idea I wish I could call my own. In fact it’s Smitten Kitchen’s, the blog that made me want to try making these. Cut the brownies with biscuit (cookie) cutters! Not only do you get great shaped brownies, you also get a whole load of bits left around the edges that need cleaning up. Unfortunately/fortunately you just can’t serve these bits to anyone. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this… (yes, I ate ALL the straggly bits myself).
After getting the initial inspiration from that blog post, I thought I would skip making caramel from scratch and try using up a bag of caramel sweets I’d had stashed away for ages. I bought the sweets after seeing a recipe somewhere for something, then promptly forgot what and where that recipe was. So the sweets have been patiently waiting their turn to be transformed into a gorgeous dessert. I did some more research and found this recipe on She Makes and Bakes. Perfect. The only change I made was to use 3 tablespoons of evaporated milk in the caramel mixture, instead of cream. I couldn’t bring myself to open a carton of cream just for a couple of spoonfuls. For some reason I don’t have the same sensitivities about plain old evaporated milk. My next mission is to research whether I can freeze it – I’ll let you know!
Salted Caramel Brownies
1/2 cup (115g) butter
180g dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs vanilla essence
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
200g milk caramel sweets (the square, quite hard ones)
3 Tbs evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
1/4 tsp + a pinch of sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tin with foil, leaving some foil overlapping two sides (you’ll use this to lift the brownies when cooled). My tin is 18×24.5cm (about 7×9.5″), you don’t want anything much bigger than that. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, at 30 second intervals. Bring the bowl out and mix after each blast, otherwise you might end up with a huge mess in there. Have you ever seen butter explode in the microwave? Scary.
3. In a large bowl stir the sugar, eggs and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Be enthusiastic about it, until well incorporated. No, you don’t need the electric mixer for this.
4. After the chocolate mixture has cooled slightly add it to the other ingredients in the bowl, by pouring in a steady stream while stirring continuously.
5. When that is fully incorporated and the mixture looks glossy, stir in the flour and salt. Mix until you can’t see any flour.
6. Pour half the batter into the tin and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until it starts pulling away from the sides and firms up on top. It will become a little lighter in colour as well.
7. Bring the tin out of the oven and cool for another 15 minutes or so.
8. While that is cooling, melt the caramel sweets, milk and 1/4 tsp salt in a microwave proof bowl. Again, do it in 30 second intervals because you’re always better safe than sorry. I think caramel might also have explosive properties. Mix well between blasts and keep going till it’s nice and smooth.
9. Pour the caramel over the cooled brownie layer, trying not to get right to the sides so it doesn’t run down the sides. However, it’s not the end of the world if it does.
10. Stick the remaining brownie batter in the microwave and blast for about 10 seconds, or enough so that the mixture becomes more spreadable again (it will have firmed up while waiting). Blob it around over the caramel layer in the tin, and try as best you can to spread it evenly. Get to the edges so you sort of seal the caramel in.
11. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top of the batter and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean. With brownies you never get completely clean toothpicks, but they shouldn’t be very gooey and chocolatey either.
12. Let brownies cool in the pan. I tried to remove them after 10 minutes and the top got all cracked. When completely cool, cut with cookie cutters and clean up the remaining bits by eating them quickly before anyone sees you.
Sharing the brownie love…
Twix Caramel Brownies by Two Peas and Their Pod (these are gooooood)
Bacon Brownies by Nigella Lawson (tried and tested – you don’t even know the bacon is there)
Salted Caramel Frosted Kahlua Brownies by Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Roasted Cherry Brownies by Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
I could go on and on…
Oh, and guess what… looking through my bookmarked recipes to create this list, I found the recipe for which I bought the caramels!
Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars by Two Peas and Their Pod