I got this massive salted caramel Easter egg by Hotel Chocolat as an Easter gift, from a website I write for and I am in love with salted caramel. I mean initially I couldn't figure the saltiness, but a couple of bites later and I knew what the hype was all about. I went around in search of ready made salted caramel in some of the gourmet shops in London, but no luck there. Hell I couldn't even get my hands on some Fleur de Sel which is apparently a major ingredient in salted caramel. I could have picked it up online, but Ro not being a fan of anything caramel, butterscotch etc. made me wonder if it was worth spending that much money on sea salt.
Usually I would just shrug and say, oh then I shall just forget about salted caramel and not be tempted to make a batch on my own. Yes, that way I am a disgrace to the food blogger community. If I can buy something easily, I usually just do that without the thought making it at home. If it involves more than a couple of steps, then I just shrug and say, 'oh ok I don't think I'm that desperate to have xyz.'. Not what you had in mind about a food blogger right? Well, I am the lazy, blogging-only-so-I-can-take-pics kinda blogger with no qualms whatsoever in trying out ready made sauces, meals, mixes and hell, even whipped cream :)
But this time, I had other plans. I decided to make salted caramel at home (pat on the back for that). It was an easy peacy task and one that required no specific skill set. I keep digging into the caramel on and off and even use it as a spread on croissants and such for brekky. It is also perfect to gift friends and family. Do up a pretty little jar with labels and all the works and send it away with all the love (next Christmas I'll definitely do it!!!)
So since I had a jar of salted caramel ready, I decided to make use of it in every way possible (other than of course digging into it for a sugar rush after meals). Brownies were first on my mind and went around scouting the internet for recipes. I didn't come across many, so I just decided to adapt David Lebovitz's Dulce de Leche brownie recipe and make these salted caramel swirl brownies. It was a great idea because (I officially hate DdL now) caramel and chocolate is a match made in heaven. You bite into the absolutely chocolatey brownie and then reach the slightly sticky salted caramel centre and there is no looking back. I also used the salted caramel for a fabulous brioche bread pudding (recipe to follow) which is on my dessert list the next time I have people over. Yes! it's that goooooood (cant stress it enough).
On another note, I don't know what happened while the brownies were baking, but my oven suddenly made this rattling sound and just conked. Thankfully the brownies were already done and Ro claims the caramel exploded inside the oven causing it to break down. I would just consider that as a dramatic proposition, since he wasn't too happy seeing the caramel swirls on the brownie. I halved the recipe because I wasn't sure how it would turn out, and now I'm kicking myself for not having baked more, especially since I'm oven-less for a while. I'm already having withdrawals
Recipe adapted/ halved from here
Unsalted butter- 4 tbsp/ 58 gms
Dark chocolate- 3 oz/ 85 gms, finely chopped
Cocoa powder- 13 gms (Dutch processed)
Eggs- 2 small
Sugar- 1/2 cup/ 100 gms
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Plain flour- 1/2 cup/ 70 gms)
Salted caramel sauce- 1/4 cup (recipe follows)
Reduce heat to low and add the chopped chocolate pieces into it. Stir until melted
Take the pan off fire and stir in the cocoa powder, followed by eggs, beating well after each addition.
In goes the sugar and vanilla extract, stir to combine.
Finally fold in the flour, making sure the batter is thoroughly mixed with no traces of flour.
Line a small baking pan with baking paper and pour half of the batter into it. Even it out with a spatula.
Drop spoonfuls of the salted caramel at intervals and run a knife through to create a swirling pattern (like how you would do for a marble cake)
Top with the remaining brownie batter and even that out as well.
Add the remaining salted caramel and follow the same swirling procedure as before.
Bake in an oven preheated at 175C for about 25 to 20 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean (more or less).
Cool on a wire rack after which you can slice them and store in a container at room temperature for about 2 days or in the refrigerator for a week.
Using salted butter is fine, in which case, reduce the salt in the salted caramel
The salted caramel will harden a bit, but that's really fine, it wont be annoyingly chewy or anything.
Under cook a bit if you want it absolutely gooey.
Add pecans or walnuts, if you prefer, to the batter after you fold in the flour.
Salted caramel sauce (makes a little less than 1 cup. Recipe adapted from here)
Water- 1 1/2 tbsp
Unsalted butter- 3 tbsp
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Sea salt- 3/4 tsp
When all the sugar has melted and the colour become a deep amber add the butter. It will foam up a bit so stand back.
Whisk continuously till the butter has melted and then take it off the flame.
Whisk in the double cream (again it might foam up a bit) and then add the sea salt.
Continue whisking till the caramel is nice and smooth.
Let it completely cool and then store in clean containers which can then be stored away in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Just before use, warm it up a wee bit to loosen.
Add Fleur de Sel if you have any and also adjust it according to your taste. Use only half tsp if you are not too much of a salt-sweet combo fan.