This is the third salted caramel recipe I have written for this blog, which is far more than anybody needs. I am so 2012.
Whilst offering my apologies for the repetition, this one was, in fact, the brainchild of Ollie. We were heading to the new house of some friends for dinner and I had offered to bring dessert. Whilst I walked around the kitchen with two bars of chocolate in my hands, opening and closing the cupboards and looking for inspiration, he said could you make those really squidgy brownies again, but maybe with salted caramel?
I know that everybody thinks they have the best brownie recipe, or knows where to get the best brownie in town, it’s one of those things that people are incredibly proud of, like their roast dinners. I have been making brownies for a long time, but never found a recipe that gave a perfect result until I discovered Felicity Cloake’s recipe in her How to Cook the Perfect… column for The Guardian. If you’re a baker and love a good brownie, I cannot recommend it enough. There are a few more processes than your standard recipe, but they create a brownie with the perfect crispy top and molten interior.
And for the record, the best brownie in London, in my opinion, is from Paul A. Young.
A salted caramel brownie is hardly groundbreaking, there are a number of recipes online, but these were so good I just had to share. This recipe is a combination of Cloake’s perfect brownie recipe (which I also used as the basis for my coconut brownies) and a method for adding the salted caramel taken from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen blog. This involves making a tray of set salted caramels, stirring some into the brownie batter before it goes into the tin, and pressing the others into the top just before it goes into the oven. This has the double-edged effect of creating pockets of molten caramel throughout the brownie, and nuggets of set, crispy caramel on the top.
At first I thought that the caramel could have done with a little more salt, but everybody else who tried them disagreed. The little touch of salt stops them from being too sweet, despite the combination of chocolate and caramel. If you’re a salty sea dog, you could add a little more to the caramel if you wish, but be careful not to overload it as there is also salt in the brownie batter.
Ollie has already asked me to make a tray of these for his birthday dinner next month, instead of a birthday cake.
Chocolate and Salted Caramel Brownies
For the caramel:
- 100g granulated sugar
- 60g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 50ml double cream
For the brownie batter:
- 200g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
- 250g unsalted butter
- 300g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 100g chocolate chips
- 60g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 60g cocoa powder
Lightly butter a square of greaseproof paper and set over a dinner plate. Set aside.
To make the caramel, melt the sugar in a dry pan over a medium-high heat. This should take about five minutes and should give a mixture of a copper colour. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the cream and salt and return to a medium-high heat to bring to a simmer. Cook for another minute, until the mixture has darkened slightly, then pour onto the prepared plate. Transfer the plate to the freezer for approximately 30 minutes until the caramel has solidified.
Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 5. Butter a 20cm square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Whilst the caramel is setting, make the brownie batter. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then set aside to cool slightly. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just incorporated. Once all the eggs have been added, turn the mixer speed up to high and best the mixture for around five minutes until the batter has increased in size slightly.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and beat in the chocolate and chocolate chips. Fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.
Once the caramel has set, cut it into 1 inch squares using a sharp knife. Fold three-quarters of the squares into the batter, then scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Scatter the remaining squares across the top of the batter and press in slightly, Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes until risen, but still very wobbly. Although the mixture seems uncooked, it needs to be taken out of the oven at this point to get the squidgy texture, cooking for any longer will give it the consistency of a cake. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then remove and slice into squares.