Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Perfect Salted Caramel Brownies Discovered on Internet

Salted caramel brownies just out of the oven.  It's hard to wait for the caramel to set because you want it in your mouth asap.

I gasped when I saw the salted caramel brownies pictures on Smitten Kitchen.  Everything looked so perfectly chocolatey and caramelly.  Right away, I knew I was going to make the brownies for Valentine's Day as the finale to the dinner I was going to prepare for my men.  I did so good by making these. 

I won Valentine's Day.  Despite a mini caramel disaster!

My son has never licked a plate in his 19 months on earth, but instinctively did after eating these brownies and ice cream.

Melting the chocolate and butter together as I start making the brownies.  Thinking these better be good.

The recipe was super easy, but I had technical issues with the caramel part.  The caramel itself was super easy to make, but I didn't have parchment to set the caramel on.  I've never had parchment and I totally spaced on that part of the recipe until I already had a pot of hot caramel ready to pour onto something.  I quickly googled parchment substitute and aluminum foil is one thing that came up.  Well, yeah...that didn't work. 

After setting in the freezer for an hour, I tried to peel the caramel off the foil and it was not happening.  The foil was peeling off in bits and sticking everywhere.  I should have just remelted the caramel or something, but I just got off as much of the caramel as I could and just worked with that.  So, my brownies missed probably 30% of the caramel, but it was still all good. 

I went out and got parchment for the brownie part of the recipe.  Parchment is the best thing, by the way...I'm going to use it for all of my baking from now on.  Stuff doesn't stick if you use it.  Amazing! 

This is what happens if you use foil instead of parchment for setting the caramel.  The caramel becomes one with the foil.

If you like brownies, I highly recommend Smitten Kitchen's recipe.  This is going in my keepers file, which is a bunch of recipes I email to myself with keeper in the subject heading so I can find them in the future.

Into the oven with high hopes

The brownies are perfection with vanilla ice cream.

Here's Smitten Kitchen's recipe reprinted from the website:

Salted Caramel Brownies
I used my standard approach to salted caramel, but I dialed back the heavy cream so that it would be less soft, and therefore better able to hold up in the batter. The brownie is my one-bowl favorite, with less salt and sugar to compensate for the sweetness and extra salt in the caramel. The result is a soft, messy brownie that it much, much, much easier to cut neatly if placed in the freezer until semi-firm.
Makes 1 8×8 pan of brownies which you can cut into 16 2-inch squares, 25 smaller squares, 32 2×1-inch bites or a mess of hearts from a cookie cutter.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt, more to taste)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/8 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
Make caramel: Set a square of parchment paper over a medium-sized plate. Lightly butter or coat the parchment with a spray oil, just as an added security measure.
In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your sugar; this will take about 5 minutes, stirring if necessary to break up large chunks. By the time it is all melted, if should be a nice copper color; if not, cook until it is. Remove from heat and stir in butter. It may not incorporate entirely but do your best. Stir in cream and salt and return saucepan to the stove over medium-high heat, bringing it back to a simmer and melted again any sugar that solidified. Cook bubbling caramel for a few minutes more, until it is a shade darker.
Pour out onto parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer. Freeze until solidified, which can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes in a decent freezer to 40 minutes in my terrible one.
Meanwhile, or when your caramel is almost firm, make your brownies: Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.
Assemble brownies: When caramel is firm, remove it from the freezer and chop it into rough 1-inch squares. Gently fold all but a small amount of caramel bits into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading until mostly even. Scatter remaining caramel bits on top. Bake in heated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool thoroughly — a process that can be hastened in the freezer, which will also produce cleaner cuts — and cut into squares or other desired shapes.
Do yourself a favor and make these brownies.

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