One of the things I love about getting inspiration from other foodie bloggers is coming across new baking ingredients I hadn't tried before or, in some cases, had never even heard of until I read about how someone used it for baking. And, thanks to my Amazon.com patronage (obsession), I can usually find it there and put it on my Amazon "wish list" to remind myself to order it or try to find it locally (Trader Joe's, Sur La Table, World Market, and Williams Sonoma are good sources for instant gratification).
My Amazon wish list used to be full of books – now it's full of ingredients I want to try or have already tried and would reorder:
Salted Caramel (I found a jar at Trader Joe's)
Biscoff Spread (TJ's also has a knockoff version called Speculoos Cookie Butter)
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Black Cocoa Powder
Coconut Oil (bought it on Amazon, have a recipe teed up which uses it)
Fleur de Sel
To dress up this brownie, I dropped dollops of salted caramel between two layers of brownie batter. I love caramel brownies. I'm picky though in that I always put the caramel within the brownie and am careful to cover it all with brownie batter.
While it's always pretty to see swirls of caramel atop a brownie, the reality is when caramel is exposed to high direct heat, it'll bubble and cook further. When your brownie cools, the caramel hardens and sometimes becomes too brittle or chewy to really enjoy. You don't want that. Also remember when you bake with caramel within your brownie, it makes it more moist – you have less risk of overbaking but you also don't want to underbake too much or it'll be too gooey rather than perfectly fudgy.
This was a great brownie recipe with the fudgy texture I prefer in my brownies. I think I could've had a heavier hand with the salted caramel layer but otherwise, this turned out really well. Cut the pieces small, though, as they're pretty rich. I had one and that filled my chocolate quotient for the day.
Brownies with Salted Caramel
4 ounces (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter; more for pan
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4-1/2 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the pan bottom with parchment, and then butter the parchment.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium metal bowl, set over a pan of simmering water. Let the chocolate cool slightly before stirring in the sugar, salt and vanilla.
Add the eggs one at a time, stirring each time until blended. Add the flour and cocoa and beat until the mixture is smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is uniformly colored with no indentation and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 45 minutes.
Set the pan on a rack until cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan, and then invert the pan onto a flat surface and peel off the parchment. Flip the baked brownie back onto the rack to cool completely. Cut into squares.
Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Brownie Cups with Salted Caramel and Nutella Crunch