Before I learned to cook and bake from scratch, I was a “box baker.” I made a mean box of brownies, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a layer of raspberry preserves (my mom’s favorite) and angel food cake with a rum chocolate-whipped cream frosting (my grandmother’s recipe and my favorite childhood birthday cake).
Somewhere down the road I started making brownies from scratch and after trying many recipes settled on the base you see below as my standby. It’s so good, it stayed as by standby when I gave up eating wheat as it adapted well with gluten-free flour.
When my friend, Lisa D, asked if I had a recipe for Caramel-Sea Salt Brownies for the cookbook project that we’re working on together, I responded “not now, but I will.” So I started with the gluten-free version of these brownies and adapted a caramel that I’ve used in a few other desserts. I covered the brownies in the caramel rather than just a simple drizzle as I wanted to make sure the caramel didn’t get lost. The key to both the chocolate and caramel parts of this recipe is using good salt – coarse sea salt for the brownie base (it’s makes the chocolate even better) and flaky sea salt sprinkled generously atop the caramel.
While I used gluten-free flour in this recipe, it is just as good with regular all-purpose flour (same quantity).
These little bites would make a great addition to a New Year’s Eve dessert table.
|Caramel-Sea Salt Brownies (Gluten-Free)|| |
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces
- 2-1/2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons water
- coarse or flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9”x13" glass baking dish with foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2" overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray; set baking dish aside.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave. Let cool slightly.
- Whisk sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to combine.
- Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend.
- Whisk in vanilla.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition.
- Add flour and stir until just combined (do not overmix).
- Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
- Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30-40 minutes.
- While brownies are baking: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine heavy cream, butter, brown sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240°F, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Carefully pour caramel over hot brownies (just out of the oven).
- Sprinkle with coarse or flaky sea salt.
- Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely in pan. (They will not cut well if still warm.)
- Using foil overhang, lift brownies out of pan; transfer to a cutting board and cut into 32 squares.
* Recipe can be cut in half and baked in an 8"x8" pan.