Salted Caramel Brownie
Time to Bake with Dorie! This week's recipe was chosen by the fabulous woman who founded "Baking with Dorie", Grapefruit. When she selected the recipe, she asked if I was allergic to peanuts. I was touched that she asked and the answer was "No! Peanuts are fine!" It often surprises people that my long list of allergies doesn't include peanuts. But it doesn't.
However, as I was putting this recipe together, I was thinking about the peanut-allergic folks that read my blog. Hmm....Dorie had created a wonderful peanut topping that you can either find in her book or on Grapefruit's blog. Wouldn't it be neat if I made the brownies gluten-free and peanut-free? I agreed with myself--as I am wont to do. I began to think about Dorie's recipe and how I could honor the recipe while omitting the peanuts.
After re-reading her original recipe--which called for salted peanuts---inspiration hit! I'd make a salted caramel brownie! I'd been meaning to make a gluten-free version ever since I heard about the gluten-filled ones served at Baked bakery in Brooklyn. Since Dorie celebrated the goodness of salty and sweet, I thought that topping her brownie base with salted caramel would be perfect!
Then I looked at her caramel recipe. The recipe is clearly designed to have peanuts added to it. I could tell from the proportions that without the peanuts, I'd have a thick, sticky caramel on my hands. Not what I wanted! I was looking for a silky caramel--almost like the caramel sauce they use at Starbucks. Enter my favorite caramel sauce! The one I learned to make in cooking school. I adore this recipe! For a caramel sauce, it is easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious. I'm always looking for excuses to make this sauce and this recipe seemed like a perfect time to pull it out!
The one thing Dorie's caramel sauce and mine have in common is that they both make too much. It is really, really hard to make a tiny batch of caramel. So, you've been warned! You will have leftover caramel sauce. (Am I the only one who doesn't think this is a bad thing?) Think about what you can do with leftover caramel sauce! Pour it over ice cream, dip strawberries in it, make yourself a homemade iced caramel macchiato! (Eat it off a spoon! I mean, what? Who would do that? *raises hand*) Here is my gluten-free, peanut-free caramel brownies! As always, thanks to Dorie for inspiring such delicious desserts!
Butter and chocolate! Dorie suggest melting them together. I like to melt them separately in the microwave. This is just a personal preference. Since they both melt at different temperatures, I find it easier to melt them and then combine. It is one more dirty dish but it is worth it!
Eggs meet sugar. YUM!
Whisk the eggs and sugars together until smooth. Doesn't that already look good?
Add the chocolate, melted butter and vanilla. Inhale deeply to appreciate the scent! When you are done swooning, whisk it all together.
The dry ingredients, which have already been whisked together, go into the bowl. Whisk until a thick batter forms.
This is what you are looking for with the batter. It's ready for the pan!
When working with chocolate cakes or brownies, I like to butter and "flour" my pan with cocoa powder. This way I don't have any white flour clinging to the outside of my baked goods.
This is what comes out of the oven! As you can see, the brownie rose and then sank down. (Leaving that little funny bump in the center.) This is good! This is what you want! The caramel needs a place to rest. When the brownie sinks slightly, it provides a place for the caramel. Mmmm....caramel...
Cool the brownie on a wire rack. The bottom of the springform pan will cling to the brownie. That is okay! This is how you get it off...
Put a plate on top of the brownie.
Using the plate, flip the brownie over so the bottom of the springform pan is exposed. Carefully peel off the bottom of the pan. I use a blunt edge metal spatula to loosen the pan.
Now place your wire rack (upside down) on the brownie. Flip it over and your brownie is right-side-up!
Allow the brownie to cool before you make the caramel sauce.
In a two-quart pot with a heavy bottom, combine your water and sugar. It will look like the pot is too big for this recipe. That is what you want! When we add the cream, we need the sauce to have LOTS of room to expand.
Cook the sugar over medium heat. See that sugar that is clinging to the side of the pan? You don't? Here is a closer look:
That sugar is a bad thing! Using a pastry brush and cold water, wash the side of the pan down to remove the sugar. This will help to prevent your caramel from crystallizing.
Boil your sugar, never stirring, until it is amber in color. This will take some time. See the blob of caramel on the bottom left? That is what we are looking for!
The large blob on the right is the finished sauce. The blob above that? Me being a slob! I slopped some sauce. Sorry!
This is what you are looking for! Don't let it get any darker or your caramel will taste burnt.
Now the fun begins! We add the cream! This is what happens:
Cream goes in. (See how low the sauce is in the pot? Watch this!)
As soon as the cream hits the hot caramel it begins to boil violently. This is why you want to use a 2-quart pot.
It continues to boil.
And then it dies down just as quickly as it rose.
Stir until everything is melted, add your vanilla and then cool the caramel.
I like to use an ice bath because then I can quickly cool my caramel sauce and get it on my brownie. If you don't want to use an ice bath, cool the caramel at room temperature. This will take about 5 hours. An ice bath? 15 minutes.
The cooled caramel will thicken and look just lovely!
Pour the cooled caramel over the brownie, sprinkle on a little Kosher salt and you are ready to go!
Salted Caramel Brownie
Brownie adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan
For the Brownie
2/3 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe caramel sauce, recipe below
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Makes one 8-inch round brownie
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and cocoa powder (or use white rice flour if you don't have cocoa powder on hand) an 8-inch round springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in foil and set it on a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- In the microwave, melt the chocolate and the butter. I like to melt them in separate 2-cup measuring cups. Remember, chocolate will appear to still be solid even when melted. Be sure to stir the chocolate every 45-seconds to prevent burning.
- Combine the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the melted chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and, you guessed it, whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the brownie is set. The brownie should not jiggle. (A cake tester inserted into the center of the cake might come out with a few wet crumbs attached.)
- Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, remove the brownie from the pan. (To do this: Remove the outer ring, place a plate over the brownie and flip the brownie and plate over. The brownie is now upside down on the plate. Slowly remove the bottom cake plate from the brownie. Once the plate is removed, put your wire rack on the brownie. Flip the brownie again so that it is right side up.)
- Allow the brownie to cool before you make the caramel sauce.
- Transfer the brownie to your serving dish.
- Make the caramel sauce as directed below. Pour a generous amount of caramel sauce onto the brownie. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
- Reserve the remaining caramel sauce for a later use.
For the Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Fill your sink with ice cubes and a little water.
- In a 2-quart medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Stir to combine.
- Turn on heat to medium. Cook until sugar darkens. you want it to be an amber color. This will take about 15 minutes. While the sugar is cooking, be sure to check the sides of the saucepan for any sugar that is clinging to the side. If you see any, wash the side of the pan down with a pastry brush and cold water.
- Test the sugar by dropping a little from a spoon onto a white piece of paper. Again, you are looking for an amber color. If you notice your caramel is darkening in one area of the pan more than another, carefully swirl the pan. You don't want to stir as sugar crystals might form. A very gentle swirl will do the trick.
- When the caramel reaches the right color, turn off the heat. Standing back, pour the cream into the hot caramel. It will boil violently. Take care while doing this.
- As soon as all the cream is added, stir the mixture. If your caramel hardened in the bottom of the pan (this happens sometimes), turn the burner back on to low and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Stir for three minutes off the heat. Add vanilla and stir.
- Carefully set the hot pot into the water bath. (Be sure that the water isn't higher than the pan. You don't want any water getting into your caramel sauce.
- Cool until sauce has thickened.
- Use as directed above. You will have made more caramel sauce than you can put on your brownie.
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