When I got my first cookbook by the guys behind Brooklyn’s Baked bakery (wow say that 3 times fast), I made and quickly fell in love with their basic brownie recipe. It quickly got dubbed the best brownie ever in our household. That is, until I got their second book and made their Sweet & Salty Brownies. With these, they took their already fantastic brownies and added a layer of salted caramel and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Now THAT’S the best brownie ever.
for the caramel:
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. fleur de sel*
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup of sour cream; I ran out so I substituted butter. seemed to work out fine)
for the brownies:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 11 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- fleur de sel & granulated or coarse sugar, for sprinkling
*Fleur de sel is a hand-harvested French sea salt. It’s a high-end ingredient that unfortunately carries a high-end price tag. I balked at the price when I first bought it (how could anyone spend that much on salt??), but the flavor it gives is honestly worth it to me. Also, a little goes a long way and I only use it in certain recipes, so I’m sure my jar (from Williams-Sonoma) will last me a good many years. If you choose not to use fleur de sel, make sure you use a flaked sea salt as table salt will not work the same way.
To make the caramel: combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, being careful not to splash the sugar mixture up the sides of the pan. Stop stirring once the sugar has completely dissolved. The syrup will bubble and eventually begin to darken in color. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 350°F, or until it turns dark amber in color. Be sure to watch the caramel closely as it cooks, because it can go from perfectly amber to burnt in a matter of seconds. That being said, don’t take it off the heat too early, or you won’t get a good caramel flavor. It sounds complicated but once you do it it’s easy to get a feel for it! Once the caramel has reached the desired color/temperature, immediately remove from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly. It will bubble violently as soon as the heavy cream hits it; just keep whisking. The caramel may seize as you incorporate the cream – if this occurs, just put it back over medium-low heat and stir until it melts back down. Stir in the fleur de sel and the butter until fully incorporated; set aside to cool.
To make the brownies: preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a glass or light-colored metal 9 x 13″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang off the edges of the pan. Lightly butter the lining.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
Combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are fully melted. Remove the pot from the heat but keep the bowl set on top of the water while you add in the granulated and brown sugars. Whisk until fully combined and then take the bowl off of the pot.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk just until combined. Add in the remaining 2 eggs and again whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the flour mixture over the chocolate and use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Continue folding until just a trace amount of flour is visible in the batter. Avoid over-stirring the batter, as this will make your brownies too cakey.
Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Drizzle 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer and use an offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Avoid the edges of the pan to keep the caramel from burning. The Baked cookbook recommends NOT using more than 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce, as a larger amount will likely seep out the sides and burn. Top the caramel layer with the remaining brownie batter, gently smoothing it out to the edges.
Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Check for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. You want to make sure you get the brownies out before a toothpick would come out completely clean, as they would then be overdone.
Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with additional fleur de sel and coarse or granulated sugar. Cool completely before using the foil overhang to remove from the pan. When cutting, frequently rinsing the knife in warm water and wiping with a clean towel will help you get clean lines.
Yield: 12 large or 24 small brownies
Source: Baked Explorations