Last year, I couldn't be with my little sister on her birthday, so I made her some long-distance Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. Today, in celebration of a quarter-century of Allie's life, something a bit more grown-up. Salted Caramel Brownies.
Allie's been pestering me for months to make her something with salted caramel. So, even though I had to keep them all to myself (what a shame!) due to our geographical divide, these are all for you, kid.
These brownies are just like my sister: sweet, successful, and ridiculous in the best possible way. Making caramel isn't necessarily the most beginner-friendly project, so I'd recommend making these only if you're comfortable with that step. If you are, though, you will be handsomely rewarded. Next time I might [gasp!] skip the salt. I know salted caramel is all the rage right now, but I find it unnecessary.
So, my dearest little one, until I can hand-deliver birthday treats to you, these long-distance brownies will have to do. And because I love you so much, I zoomed a flight to Mars and found you a birthday song too. Happy birthday Allie, see you next yeeaarrrrrr!
Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker
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
3 large eggs
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
Fine sea salt
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat 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. Melt the chocolates and butter 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 a bit at a time; then stir in the flour until just combined. Pour about half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread into the corners.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Salted Caramel Sauce
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 3-quart saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, but that’s okay – it will melt eventually – just keep whisking.
2. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. At that point, whisk in the salt, and then add the butter all at once and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the heavy cream (it will foam up when first added). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce.
3. Allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before using in the brownies. The leftover sauce can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.