Salted Caramel Brownies

My mom made salted caramel brownies late last summer and they were a huge hit. I recently wanted to recreate the sweet and salty treat, and she pointed me in the direction of Ina Garten’s recipe (link here). My usual approach to recipes is to look to see if I understand it all and/or if there is a completely acceptable way to cut a corner or two (shortcuts are a completely necessary element to my cooking/baking). Although the ability level indicated “easy,” I read things like “melt in a bowl set over simmering water”  or “sift” (that’s right, “sift” can turn me away) and I thought “nope, not happening.” But wait, these are brownies. Totally acceptable to use one of many wonderful mixes out there, right? Ms. Garten herself uses a jar of caramel sauce to top the finished brownies, after all! Interestingly, I did make the caramel sauce from scratch (funny story about that in the “Reality Check” below). I like to have some element of a recipe be homemade, otherwise I may as well grab the treats from a lovely local bakery. Plus, topping a dessert with regular caramel and sprinkling salt on top doesn’t really seem like true salted caramel. Not that I am doubting Ina Garten, I just really have a thing for salt and wanted to have it as part of the sauce, not just as an added garnish. I went on the hunt online for a salted caramel sauce recipe. Keeping in mind my preference for uncomplicated recipes, I would immediately hit the back button if I saw a candy thermometer referenced. I found a great one here, and was really happy with the result. Original recipes in links above, with adapted recipe (with a range of various shortcuts) below.
DSC_0192_edited-1DSC_8652_edited-1This is just SO much easier than brownies from scratch and yet still so yummy! If attempting to make from scratch, I’ll save that effort for the family recipe my mom recently gave to me.
DSC_8637_edited-1The ingredients for the salted caramel. So simple.
DSC_8646_edited-1This gives you an idea of the process it takes to melt the sugar. It took me about ten minutes to get it to this point. The sugar seems like it will never possibly melt, then it gets to this point when clumps form, and it goes quickly to liquid from there.
DSC_0198_edited-1Reality Check. So, I mentioned above that I had made the determination that I was going to make the salted caramel from scratch. I was at the grocery store for a normal run, so I decided to purchase what I guessed would be a key element to homemade caramel before I had an actual recipe – picture below. Turns out, melting caramel and adding salt isn’t exactly homemade. I truly had no idea that caramel consisted of just sugar, butter and cream.

Salted Caramel Brownies


For the brownies:
1 box of brownie mix (as well as the ingredients listed, generally an egg, vegetable oil and water)

For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt (I used a heaping teaspoon, but see my note above regarding my love of salt)

For shortcut alternatives, you can use a high quality jar of caramel and top with sea salt, or melt Kraft caramels with cream and vanilla and sea salt – see sample recipe post here)

Flaked sea salt for topping


Make the sauce first, as you will want to pour on the brownies while they are still warm.

1. Heat sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon. (This is the part I like least about the recipe, as you have to pay constant attention while cooking.) The sugar will form clumps after about 10 minutes – see picture above for reference – and eventually melt into a brown, amber-colored liquid. Continue to stir constantly, and be careful not to burn.

2.  Immediately add the butter once the sugar is completely melted (the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added).

3.  Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.

4.  Drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring.

5.  Allow mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

6.  Remove from heat and stir in the flaked sea salt. Allow to cool down before using, as it will continue to thicken.

7. Bake the brownies according to the instructions on the package.

8. As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, drizzle the salted caramel over the top (heat the caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if too thick to pour).

9.  Sprinkle with flaked sea salt.


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