Happy New Year!

This is how we do it at my house…

My good pal Streusel is so giving in so many ways, including that she gave me an amazing holiday gift, the cookbook “Baked Explorations” (she talks about it in an earlier post). The first thing I’ve made from it are these brownies, and they were a-mazing. Gooey and chocolately, the layer of salty caramel bakes into the batter and creates a lovely rich dessert.

If, like me, your New Year’s Eve (or any other great night, for that matter) involves Persecco and only one dessert, this is the dessert to make!

Make the caramel sauce first, since it needs to cool before you add it to the brownie batter. This is what my sauce looked like:

After that, they have you mix up the brownie batter, putting half into the bottom of the dish and layering the caramel sauce on top

The final happy brownies look a little like this:

Sweet & Salty Brownie

from Baked Explorations

for the filling

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon fleur de sel

1/4 sour cream

for the brownie

1 1/4 cup 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 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the assembly

1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel

1 teaspoon coarse sugar

make the caramel

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 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 from 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.

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 overbeat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolates. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.

assemble the sweet & salty brownie

Pour half the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 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 over 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.

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