You get a masterpiece, I’m saying a brownie lovers dream. These brownies are not your typical cake-like brownies, they’re more fudge-like in consistency, but fudge-like in a good way, like mouthwatering lick your fingers and plate sort of way. I absolutely love these brownies, hence the name, Robert’s absolute best brownies. Zoe and I have been talking about making caramel and sea salt brownies for sometime, so I decided to surprise her one day after school. I didn’t research another brownie recipe because these are our family’s favorite recipe, so why re-invent the wheel, right? I’m so glad that I added the caramel and sea salt, because not only do we have one favorite brownie recipe, but we now have two. I must warn you that these brownies are not low in calories and they’re not for the faint of heart. These brownies are decedent, rich, and oh so fudgey, but so worth the indulgence. You will be licking your fingers, plate and fork after eating not one, but possibly two of these brownies.
salted caramel brownies:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped – I used two 4-ounce bars of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet cacao
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large (or extra large eggs), at room temperature – FYI, I always use extra large eggs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose-flour
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips – I used my favorite 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli
- 4 tablespoons caramel, you want a true caramel sauce here, not one that has a lot of milk or cream in it – I used Frans (see photo below), and for those of you that are local, you can get it at Paradise Foods
- few pinches of Maldon or flaky sea salt crystals – I used Baleine coarse sea salt crystals
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the inside of an 8-inch (I used my 8-inch glass baking dish) or 9-inch square baking pan with 2 lengths of foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Then lightly butter the foil or parchment paper. I always butter the bottom piece so that the top piece sticks to it.
These bars are also thin enough to break apart with my hand so I don’t have to actually chop them up with a knife. I break them apart in little pieces (I’m strong like bull) right over the heatproof bowl that I’m going to melt the butter and chocolate in (I do this before I set the bowl over the simmering water). It saves me a cutting board and knife to clean up. If you don’t have thin chocolate bars like these, then chop up your chocolate using a serrated knife. I always place some parchment paper on top of my cutting board when chopping up chocolate, as it helps make clean up easier and you can always just lift and pour those small pieces of chocolate into your pan.
Placed the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, (make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until melted and smooth.
Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl (unless the bowl you’re using to melt the chocolate in is large). Make sure you use a spatula here so you can get all the chocolate goodness into the bowl. Add the 3/4 cup sugar and the 1 teaspoon vanilla to the melted chocolate, and using a whisk, mix until combined.
Add the 1/4 cup flour, and using a whisk, stir the batter energetically for 1 minute until the batter loses it graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the bowl. The batter will also lighten up a bit in color.
Note: This is a very important step! Make sure that your stir vigorously for 1 full minute or a bit more. I suggest timing yourself as I did. By doing this step you will end up with a batter that’s rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be and brownies that are rich and fudge-like.
I’m going to warn you that you are going to have one tired arm after stirring vigorously for a minute, believe me! You can always switch arms halfway through the process.
Bake until the center feels almost set and the edges are a bit firm, about 30-35 minutes. Do not over bake. In my oven, my brownies are done around 32-33 minutes. Note: Ovens vary in temperature and baking times, so get to know your oven and know how long it takes to bake things. If your oven tends to cook things faster, then check it before 30 minutes etc.
The first time I baked these, I honestly thought they were underdone, as they were soft and gooey in the center when I cut them, but that’s the way they are supposed to be. They are truly more of a fudge-like brownie than cake-like one. They will also firm up as they sit and cool.
When the brownies are almost done cooking, measure out 4 tablespoons of caramel into a liquid measuring cup or small microwaveable safe bowl. It’s easier to use a measuring cup with a pour spout, because you’re going to be pouring the caramel over the brownies. Make sure you have some little helpers around to lick the spatula and the measuring spoon. My kids are my spoon and bowl lickers.
As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the caramel in the microwave and heat for about 20 seconds, or until it’s pourable. Give it a quick stir. Drizzle the caramel over the brownies in a zig zag up and down pattern until all of the caramel is gone.
Sprinkle on some sea salt and let the brownies cool completely (for about an hour or so) in the pan before lifting the foil or parchment paper and the block of brownies out of the pan. The brownies need to set, and if you cut into them too early then they will be gooey.
What’s great about these brownies is that they stay moist for a few days and don’t dry up like other brownies. The brownies will get firmer as they sit. Pair these with a cold glass of milk or a side of vanilla bean ice-cream.