Friday 8 May 2020

Salted Caramel Brownies


1/2 cup caster sugar
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
3 Tbsp double cream

100g 74% dark chocolate
115g butter
7/8 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 flaky sea salt
2/3 cup plain flour


Caramel First:
1) Set square of baking paper over a medium sized plate. 
2) In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your sugar. This will take around 5 minutes, and you can shoogle the pan around if chunks appear in order to melt them. You are aiming for a copper colour here, nothing lighter, nothing darker (that will mean it's burnt)
3) Remove from heat as soon as this happens and add the butter. Stir in, but it won't combine perfectly. That's ok.
4) Add the cream and return to medium high heat, bringing back to a simmer and melting any sugar that solidified. Cook it until it darkens just slightly. 
5) Pour the caramel onto the parchment and transfer it to your freezer until it's solid, probably around 20 minutes or so.

Brownies Next:
6) Preheat oven to 180C and line an 8X8 inch pan with baking paper
7) Melt your butter and then add the chocolate. Hopefully there will be enough heat in the butter to melt the chocolate without further heating, but heat further if required in short, low spurts.
8) Mix in butter, then eggs, then vanilla, then salt, then flour.
9) Remove your caramel from the freezer and chop into rough 1 inch squares, then fold all but a few of these into your batter.
10) Scrape batter into pan and sprinkle remaining pieces over the top.
11) Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, erring on the side of under-baking if in doubt, as brownies will harden and continue to cook as they cool
12) Cool completely before cutting if you want nice, clean cuts. Eat with a spoon if you don't.

Further Nonsense:

It was my birthday the other day, and my husband had been asking me all week what kind of cake I'd like. The family celebration cake in recent years has become a fraisier, but this cake is complicated, and I knew I'd be making one next month for my son, and I didn't want my husband to make a cake. This is not because he is bad at baking - far from it, he is very skilled in the kitchen. It is the cleaning up afterwards he isn't as good at. And the last thing I want to stare at on my birthday is a kitchen that looks like drug dealers have hit it while looking for the secret stash. So I told him I'd like to try a new recipe out...and then quickly had to decide what recipe that was going to be.

One item I often get from my local bakers is a salted caramel brownie. A good brownie is a difficult thing to master, and a caramel brownie makes this even tricker. But one of my colleagues had brought some into the office to much acclaim, and I thought I'd get the recipe off her. I messaged her on the morning of the big day, and she quickly sent over the link. Scanning down the list, I saw I needed a couple of items, but that was ok - part of my birthday treat was going to be the weekly trip to the supermarket. Lockdown birthdays are awesome.

The original recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, called for baking chocolate, but I wasn't up for finding that. It has only one use, and I prefer to get dark chocolate as it can be used for non-baking emergencies as well as in recipes. The rest of the ingredients were simple enough to find, and once mid-afternoon hit, I set to work, made them, cut them into a tower, then handed candles I had bought to my husband and told him to gather everyone and sing to me so that I could eat some. So part control freak, but also part willing to take action if I see no one else is gonna do anything.

The real key to this recipe is making solid caramel. Before I'd made runny caramel which just disappeared into brownies, but this gave me definite blobs of it, meaning you immediately knew what you were in for. The brownies recipe itself may need tinkered with, but I know I'll use this caramel recipe again for sure.

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