Sweet and Salty Brownie
The genesis behind the formation of our bakery, Baked, was to elevate the Classic American Brownie from ubiquitous mediocrity to bona fide luxury. It is brownie as fetish. The Sweet & Salty Brownie is the Baked brownie in extreme, a decadence on par with other, more well-known (and perhaps more respected) desserts. The brownie itself is a riff on our famous deep, dark brownie (sans instant espresso powder) filled with a smoky, dark caramel and topped with just a hint of sea salt and sugar. The caramel taste is more of a hint and less of an explosion, befitting this elegant dessert; the result is a Fudgey-Chocolatey-Carameley Brownie, I should also reveal that the Sweet & Salty Brownie is our most requested recipe, owing to the brownie’s featured moment on the Food Network, where it was lauded with praise as one of the best salty foods in the United States. That is a lot of hype for one brownie, but in this case, I think it is worthy.
That old adage “less is more” holds true here. You might be tempted to add more caramel than recommended, but temper your indulgence. If you build too much of a caramel layer, it more than likely will seep out and burn during baking. In fact this recipe will make more than enough caramel for one batch of brownies. If you are a caramel addict, use the extra to drizzle on the brownie post-baking/pre-serving.
Brownies, unlike many bar cookies, freeze particularly well. In fact, some brownie fanatics claim freezing improves the texture. I am still undecided. Regardless, there is an art to freezing your brownies to avoid the sticky, sweaty surface condensation.
1. Allow the brownies to cool to room temperature. Wrap your room temperature brownies in two layers of plastic wrap. It is best to wrap the brownies directly as opposed to wrapping the pan of brownies. Place your brownies in the freezer.
2. When you are ready to defrost your brownies, remove them from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Then remove the brownies from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
3. Unwrap and eat your brownies.
Generally speaking, brownies will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month, but I know people who have kept them far beyond that threshold and have lived to tell about it.
12 large brownies or 24 small brownies
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together
Taste and Texturechewy, chocolatey, rich, salty, sweet
Type of Dishchocolate dessert, dessert
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
- 11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into l-inch: cubes
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons fleur de sel
- 1 teaspoon coarse sugar
To Make the Caramel:
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with ¼ cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, or until the mixture is dark amber in color (keep a close eye on the caramel at all times, as it goes from golden brown to black and burnt very quickly), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove for the heat, and slowly add the cream (careful, it will bubble up) and then the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.
To Make the Brownie:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.
Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overheat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.
To Assemble the Sweet & Salty Brownie:
Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about ¾ cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, taking care to make sure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.
Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and coarse sugar.
Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.
The brownies can be stored, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.
2010 Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito