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It’s been a baking kind of week at my house. I say that as if there is ever a non-baking kind of week. Which there isn’t. Ever. Baking makes my world go ’round. This week I made a Yankee Sheet Cake, 48 cupcakes–which I gave away, and these:

Salted-Caramel Brownies! I think I hear angels singing. Do you see the caramel oozing down the side of the brownie? I read Pioneer Woman’s post about a box filled with a variety of pastries that she was given as a gift.  By the way–Is that not just the perfect gift? Nothing says I care like a big ol’ box of pastry goodness.

Among the gifted goodies was a salted caramel brownie. And I’ve been thinking about them (read: obsessed) ever since!

About brownies.  And caramel.  And salt.

I just had to take a crack at it. I have a recipe that I came up  awhile  back for a Super Fudgy Brownie, which I love.  So I figured with a little tweaking, I could coax them into a thinner brownie to support the gooey caramel, while still keeping their dense, soft and fudge-like texture. I did it. I gave away most of them so as not to add too many of them to my waistline. They’ve gotten rave reviews. They are the perfect blend of salty and sweet, gooey and fudgy. These salted caramel brownies are a force to be reckoned with!

For Brownies:

1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 C. packed brown sugar

12 oz. (2 C.) dark chocolate chips

1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For Caramel:

1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 C. packed brown sugar

1/2 C. granulated sugar

1/2 C. heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

I remember the first time I realized that you could make caramel. I guess I always thought that you had to buy it in a jar from a store.  I was a newlywed, and I had made a cheesecake for a dinner with friends. I started daydreaming about serving it atop a bed of caramel sauce, as I had eaten in a restaurant once. Well, once I looked up a caramel recipe and saw how unbelievably simple it was, I was sure that there had to be some kind of trick to it. Nope. It was just as easy as it looked, and took all of 6 minutes to make. The result was warm, gooey, buttery and wonderful. I felt like a culinary genius. I felt like Julia Child. After mastering the art of caramel making, I just knew that I would one day own a quaint little pastry shop in the big city. People would come from miles around to sample my caramel sauce.

Or I would move up north, birth four sons, and be a wife and mother. The two are clearly related. Bottom line: I get a bit carried away when dessert in involved. But I digress. I do that.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly spray a 15 x 9 x 2-inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray; set it aside.

Then take a small saucepan  add the butter, and both sugars. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.

Bring the mixture to boiling. Good things are starting to happen here–See how caramel-y it’s looking already?

Stir in the heavy cream, and return the mixture to a boil.

The caramel is going to boil pretty high up the side of the pan. This is normal. Allow the caramel to boil for 2 minutes; stirring constantly so that it doesn’t boil over or scorch the bottom of the pan. Scorched caramel = bad. If you’re like me and get easily distracted, set a timer so as you will not be tempted to multi-task.

Turn off the heat and stir in the salt. See! 6 minutes, tops! Let it cool completely so that caramel and salt can get to know each other. While the caramel and salt are becoming BFFs, make the brownies.

Place the flour, cocoa powder and salt in to a large bowl, and whisk it together.

Whisking the dry ingredients will simultaneously fluff them up a bit, and combine them. I don’t sift anything–ever–it’s just a policy of mine.  Set this bowl aside for a few minutes while we tend to the wet ingredients.

Put the butter, brown sugar in a large saucepan, over medium-heat. Whisk it constantly as it heats, to keep the butter incorporated while the sugar dissolves. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or the butter may separate, and you’ll be hard pressed to get it back together again.

At this point, it looks a lot like the caramel we just made, because well, at this point, it is caramel.  This is what is going to make the brownies ooey-gooey.

Dip a spoon in the mixture and take a look at the soon-to-be-brownies-caramel. It should look pretty smooth, with only a few sugar granules. If it looks super sandy, heat and stir it for another minute or two. Don’t freak out on me–this is easy stuff. This whole process takes about 6-7 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and add the chocolate chips, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth.

I could seriously take a bath in that. Seriously.

Add the melted-chocolate-caramel-y mixture to the dry ingredients, and whisk until it is well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until just combined. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the center is just set. The top should be glossy, but not dried-out or cracked. Remove from oven, and cool completely.

See? Shiny. Glossy. Lovely.  Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting.

Once completely cool, cut the brownies into 24 squares.

The Not-So-Secret key to brownie cutting success is the plastic knife! The plastic is a very poor conductor of heat, and is very slippery so it doesn’t end up leaving the usual clumpy, crumbly trough wherever you cut–even if you couldn’t possibly wait until the brownies were totally cool before cutting them.

 

Now it’s time for the fun part! Pour the cooled salted-caramel sauce on top of the cooled brownies.

 

Remember:cool on cool. Lightly spread the caramel to the edges of the brownies. Let it all sit and get happy together for a few minutes. Then dig in with a fork spatula and eat it right out of the pan serve one on a plate.

 

See how the caramel not-so-delicately oozes over the brownie? That’s the stuff dreams (read: obsessions) are made of. The result is a salty, sweet, buttery, chocolaty wonder. As in, you’ll wonder how it is you have lived without them.

Salted Caramel Brownies

http://comfortablydomestic.com

24 Brownies

For Brownies:

1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 C. brown sugar, firmly packed

12 oz. (2 C.) dark chocolate chips

1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 C. all-purpose flour

½ tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

For Caramel:

1 C. granulated sugar

¼ C. water

2 Tbs. light corn syrup

2/3 C. heavy whipping cream

4 Tbs. butter

1 ¼ tsp. salt

 

Caramel takes 7-8  minutes, start to finish!

 

For Caramel:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Boil over high heat until mixture turns a medium amber color, between 6-8 minutes. Watch carefully, because mixture goes from light amber to dark amber/burnt very quickly. I usually end up heating the caramel for about 7 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, and carefully whisk in heavy cream, butter, and salt. The caramel will bubble up and hiss when you add the other ingredients, before relaxing. This happens when adding cooler ingredients to hot sugar. Just be careful to keep your hands/arms as far away from the steam as possible when adding, to avoid a steam burn.
  5. Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature.

For Brownies:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. Place butter and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until butter and sugar are melted; stirring constantly. Do not allow the mixture to boil. The mixture should look like caramel, and sugar crystals will be almost totally dissolved.  (About 5 minutes.) Remove from heat.
  4. Add chocolate chips to the pan, and stir until completely melted.  Add flour mixture all at once, and stir together to form a stiff dough. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, and lightly spread to the edges. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until center is just set.  (DO NOT overcook or the brownies will be dry.)  Remove from oven to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Cut with a plastic knife, into 24 squares.
  7. Stir the salted caramel sauce before pouring over the cooled, and cut brownies.
  8. Spread caramel to the edges of the brownie with a knife. Serve immediately.
  9. Note: Brownies are best enjoyed the day they are made, or the following morning.


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