In true Indian style, my first food related post is about something sweet- all meals during happy occasions must start and end with a ridiculously sweet sweet. The ooey-gooeyness (if there’s such a word, if not, it should be!) of this already rich brownie was calling out to me for weeks. I’m also particularly fond of how the salt adds that extra oomph! to this treat and that sweet, savoury combination is just beautiful.
I found that many recipes actually called for a store-bought caramel. I’m not a big fan of anything made by stores unless it’s got none of those preservative nonsense. So I got cracking to finding out how to make salted caramel and voila! Two of my favourite blogs- Smitten Kitchen and The Boy Who Bakes had a simple recipe. For the brownie, I modified David Lebowitz’s brownie recipe and used Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate (70%) and Valrhona cocoa powder. For my salted caramel, I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and cut the hardened caramel into squares that were later added to the brownie batter rather then pipping the caramel over half of the batter as a caramel layer. I wanted big chunks of caramel oozing out rather then a thin centre layer of it. However, my gooey caramel chunks disappeared almost completely into the baked brownie after 2 days! Yes, I made quite a big batch for just the 2 of us and had leftovers for 2 days. My suggestion for those who intend to keep the brownie for a few days is to bake the brownie and drizzle the caramel sauce over the brownie rather than mixing it in the batter. The caramel sauce can be transferred to a squeeze bottle and gently warmed up in the bottle inside a bigger pot of warm water to get it to the right pouring consistency. The caramel sauce can be made in advance. But if you’re intending to devour the brownies immediately, the caramel chunks are definitely the right way to go.
Caramel (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 1/2 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 4 tsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
Set a square of parchment paper over a medium baking tray. The smaller your surface area, the thicker your caramel chunks will be.
Lightly butter or oil the parchment with a spray oil.
In a dry heavy-based medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt your sugar; this will take about 5-8 minutes,depending on the base of your saucepan.
Stir melting sugar with a spatula or wooden spoon to occasionally to break up any lumps. The caramel will stick to your spatula/spoon.
All the sugar will be melted and it should turn a deep copper, almost reddish, colour. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Stir in cream. The caramel will start to spatter a little so be careful.
Add salt (I used Himalayan Rock 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 slightly darker.
Pour caramel out onto parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer immediately. Freeze until its almost hard. It should set in about 30-45 minutes.
After caramel has set, take it our of freezer and cut into 1-2 inch squares.
*Immerse your wooden spoon/spatula with stuck caramel bits into a cup with very hot water and the caramel will melt. This should make it easier to scrub it clean.
Fudge Brownies (Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris, David Lebovitz)
- 8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 6 ounces (170g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (140g) plain flour
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
Line and grease a 8-inch square pan.
Heat some water in a saucepan.
While water is heating up, crack the eggs in a separate bowl and lightly beat them .
Once the water comes to a simmer, put a heatproof bowl over the sauce pan with the chocolate pieces with the unsalted butter. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Also, don’t keep stirring the chocolate. Use a spatula to occasionally stir gently if the chocolate pieces on the surface don’t melt.
When the chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the beaten eggs slowly, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Stir quickly or the eggs may start to become scrambled eggs!
Now, stir 3/4 of the caramel pieces in gently.
Pour brownie/caramel mixture into pan. Sprinkle the rest of the caramel bits on top.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.