When you crave fudgy brownies like nothing else matters, sometimes the only way to satisfy this desire is make them for yourself. It is my experience, homemade brownies have just the right texture and flavor that I want. There were too many times I bought a brownie at a gourmet store and they were dry and dull. I guess I am very particular about my brownies. Fortunately, it is not difficult to make good fudgy brownies at home.
Other than the dark chocolate, what I love about making brownies from scratch is I can mix them by hand. It doesn’t take a lot of whisking, whipping or timing, just a good stir to mix everything up. For the novice baker, homemade brownies are a good place to start learning how to bake.
This recipe is from Ina Garten’s Salted Caramel Brownies from her book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. Ina’s cookbooks and recipes are very well organized and constructed. You can trust her to present each recipe clearly, accurately and efficiently. Her brownies are dangerously delicious. They have deep dark chocolate flavor with just the right amount of moisture without being gooey. For all brownie lovers out there, chocolate fudgy brownies with rich caramel and flaky sea salt drizzled over the top are a masterpiece. There is nothing that grabs your attention like chocolate, caramel and sea salt all in one delectable brownie bite. This is a happy marriage.
I made two changes to Ina Garten’s recipe. In the original recipe she uses semisweet chocolate chips in the brownies chocolate foundation. Chocolate chips have additional ingredients besides cocoa butter and sugar and I believe should only be used as chips. Sometimes, melted down chocolate chips has a chalky flavor and grainy texture. This is not something I want in my brownies. A bar of good quality semisweet chocolate melted with a bar of unsweetened chocolate gives the brownies a lighter texture and a purer chocolate flavor.
The other change I made is, I use less caramel sauce than she recommends in her recipe. She specifies 5 ounces of caramel sauce to drizzle over the brownies. That is a lot of caramel sauce and looks more like frosting on a cake then a glaze. Feel free to adjust the amount of caramel sauce according to your preference.
Caramel Sauce for Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel
If you are buying caramel sauce, please seek out real caramel sauce. The common brands you’ll find in a super market are mostly made with artificial flavor and corn syrup. You want the real deal to drizzle over your homemade real chocolate brownies. Ina Garten recommends Fran’s, but I also like Cara Sel and Fat Toad Farm Caramel. Fran’s is a company out of Washington that specializes in chocolates. Cara Sel comes from a family run company in the NY Hudson Valley. You can find their caramel sauce in stores all over NY State and on-line. Fat Toad Farm is a family run farm in Vermont and their caramel sauce is made with goat’s milk. All three sauces are delicious artisan caramel sauces you can buy online or in specialty stores. Use any brand you like, but please make sure it is the real stuff.
Often, I make caramel sauce while these brownies bake in the oven. It takes about 20 minutes and is something worth knowing how to make. Loaded fudgy brownies have a lot of dark chocolate, almost 12 ounces worth, plus 6 ounces of chocolate chips. Depending on what brand chocolate you buy, brownie ingredients are expensive. Add another $10 to $16 for a 6 oz jar of caramel sauce turns these homemade brownies into gold.
The caramel sauce recipe I use is from Simply Recipes on the web. It makes caramel sauce using the dry method, which I prefer because it takes less time and I am impatient. Here is a recipe for caramel sauce using the wet method. It takes longer but the sugar melts at an even rate. Also, it does not have butter in it. You need a good heavy-bottom 3-quart sauce pan to prevent the sugar from burning. Follow the directions carefully and please take the necessary precautions so hot caramel does not bubble over your mixing hand.
Tips for Making Fudgy Brownies
- One special piece of equipment you need is a double boiler to melt the chocolate and butter. If you do not have a double boiler, make one by fitting a small heat proof mixing bowl over a 3-quart sauce pan filled with less than an inch of water.
- While melting the chocolate in a double boiler, keep the heat medium-low and make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the pan, or bowl holding the chocolate.
- Allow for several minutes to cool the chocolate before you add it to the eggs and sugar. If the chocolate and butter are too hot, it will cook your eggs.
- Before you add the chocolate chips to the brownie mix, allow some time for the mix to come to a cool room temperature. This insures the chips don’t melt and ruin the brownies.
- Be careful not to over bake the brownies. They are done when a tooth pick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean. If you do over bake them they will still taste good, but they won’t be as moist.
Whenever you need to bring a dessert to a friend’s house, a hostess gift, a dessert for a weekend getaway, or a last minute get together, these brownies will please everyone who loves chocolate. I even mailed them as a care package to Taylor in college. Fudgy brownies with sea salt and caramel are a family favorite.
Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel
- ½ lb 226 g unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces about 1 TB in size
- 8 oz 227 g semisweet chocolate, broken in to irregular pieces
- 3 oz 75 g unsweetened chocolate, broken into irregular pieces
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ TB 6 g instant coffee granules, like Medaglia D'Oro or Café Bustelo
- 1 TB pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 TB 246 g granulated sugar
- ½ cup 71 g plus 2 TB (17 g) all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- 6 oz 172 g semisweet chocolate chips
- 2-4 oz 60-125 ml caramel sauce
- 2-3 tsp flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Place the rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 12 x 1½ inch (23 x 30 x 4 cm) baking pan. (preferably metal)
Make a double boiler by placing a medium bowl resting on the rim of a 3 qt sauce pan filled no more than an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Turn the heat to medium-high and place the butter, semisweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in the bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter. Every now and then, carefully stir the chocolate and butter. Watch to make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Once melted, remove the bowl from the sauce pan and cool for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl stir together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Do not beat the eggs, just stir to combine.
After the 15-minute cooling time, slowly add the melted butter and chocolate to the eggs and sugar mixture. Pour about a quarter of the chocolate into the mix and stir to temper the brownie mix. Slowly add the remaining melted chocolate and butter and stir at the same time. Once mixed together, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. See note.
In a medium bowl add the ½ cup (71 g) flour, baking powder, and Kosher salt. Use a small whisk and whisk the flour mixture until the flour, baking powder and salt are evenly combined. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Toss the chocolate chips in the flour bowl with the remaining 2 TBS of all-purpose flour until they become nicely coated. Add the chocolate chips and flour into the chocolate brownie mix. Stir to mix.
Pour the brownie mix into the prepared pan and spread to form an even layer.
Bake for 35 minutes, or when a tooth pick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. The edges will look slightly dry and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not over bake. The brownies will continue to bake while it is cooling.
Remove the brownies from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
When the brownies are just out of the oven, heat up your caramel sauce in a microwave until it thins out to a pouring consistency. Stir the caramel sauce until smooth.
Evenly drizzle the caramel sauce over the hot brownies, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Completely cool the brownies before cutting into serving pieces.
Cooling the chocolate brownie mix to a cool room temperature is crucial. If the brownie mix is too warm when you add in the chocolate chips, all the chocolate chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
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