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salted caramel brownies
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Homemade Salted Caramel Brownies

These Salted Caramel Brownies are my new favorite dessert! No, for real. Rich, fudgy brownies are topped with a thick layer of gooey homemade caramel, and finished with toasted pecans. They are ultra decadent! I dare you to eat more than one. Nervous about making your own caramel? I'll walk you through it!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 485kcal
Author Karen

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate*
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
  • 4 eggs

For the salted caramel

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 9 tablespoons butter chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top
  • toasted pecans to garnish

Instructions

Make the brownies

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. You can also line it with aluminum foil (be sure to spray the foil with nonstick spray). Or you can just spray the pan.
  • In a medium pot (I use a 3 quart saucepan), melt 1 cup butter and 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate over medium heat.
  • When it has melted, remove from heat and add 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
  • Add 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled. That means take a large spoon and add flour to your measuring cup, then level off the top. Stir in the flour until just barely incorporated.**
  • Stir in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
  • Do not over mix. Over-mixed batter makes for a tough brownie, which is not what we're going for. You want soft, tender brownies! Once that last egg has been mixed in thoroughly, stop messing with it.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the edges.
  • Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. The edges should be set. The center of the pan should not wobble when you shake it. I always do the toothpick test: poke a toothpick in the center of the brownies and if there is no wet batter sticking to it, it's done. (If there is, leave it in for a couple more minutes) Every oven is different, so you are going to have to use your bet judgment here on the bake time! Do NOT over bake, or the brownies will be too dry. Keep in mind that the brownies will firm up as they cool.
  • Set the pan on a wire rack to let cool completely. Stick them in the fridge or freezer to speed this up.

Make the caramel

  • Chop up 9 tablespoons of butter and measure out 1/2 cup of cream. Set aside so it is ready to go when you need it later.
  • In a clean heavy bottom 3 quart pot, add 1/2 cup water. Add 2 and 1/2 cups sugar to the center of the pot to avoid getting sugar crystals on the side of the pot. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
  • Turn the heat on to medium low and stir with a long wooden spoon. Keep the heat on medium low until the sugar has dissolved into the water completely, stirring occasionally. This will take several minutes. Be patient. Do not turn up the heat. You need all the sugar to be dissolved before you start the caramel-making process.
  • When you see bubbles all across the top and are confident that all the sugar is dissolved, remove the wooden spoon from the pot.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. Do no stir, but don't walk away either. The mixture will continue to boil and bubble, rising up the sides of the pot and eliminating any crystals that have formed along the edge. Eventually it will change from clear to a yellow, and then a dark amber color. See photos.
  • Depending on a variety of factors (the power of the burner, the heaviness of the pot, etc.), it will take anywhere from 8-12 minutes for the sugar to caramelize. Don't worry about the time though: the caramel is ready to be removed from the heat when 1) it has turned a dark amber color, and 2) when you see the first wisps of smoke rising from the pot. Do not remove from heat until you see these wisps of smoke. And don't take it off before you see smoke rising. You may worry that it is getting so dark that it is burning, but if there is no smoke, I promise it's not burning.
  • Remove the caramel from heat. Use a clean wooden spoon to add the chopped butter. Be careful, the mixture will sputter and this stuff is hot as lava. Once all the butter has melted in, gradually add the cream. It will sputter again.
  • Stir in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. If you only have table salt, add 1 teaspoon, then more to taste if desired.
  • Let the caramel cool in the pot for about a half hour to thicken (see photos) before pouring it over the top of the completely cooled brownies. Let the caramel finish cooling completely.
  • If you don't mind messy brownies, you can serve these room temperature; when the brownies are sliced, the caramel will slow drip over the edge (I prefer them that way.) The photos were shot at room temperature. If you want a neater presentation, keep the brownies chilled in the fridge. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle each serving with flaky sea salt and top with toasted pecans.***

Notes

*You can use 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder in place of the unsweetened baking chocolate.
**Most brownie recipes call for adding the eggs first, then the flour. I like to add the flour first so that the batter has a chance to cool down a bit more. I don't want to risk curdling my eggs! And I'm super impatient and don't like to wait. But if this feels weird to you, just wait a few minutes for the batter to cool some more before adding the eggs one at a time, then stir in the flour afterward, until barely incorporated.
***To toast the pecans, spread a layer of pecans on a dry baking sheet and bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. They are done when fragrant.
These brownies freeze well, before or after you have topped with caramel. And the recipe can easily be cut in half. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 485kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 433mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 2mg