I love caramel and chocolate. There, I’ve said it and I can’t take it back, LOL. The two complement each other so well that it is no surprise that we find them so often used together in recipes. And today’s Dark Chocolate Brownies with Pecans and Caramel is a perfect example.
Brownies are always popular, but the addition of a homemade caramel layer takes them over the edge. The hardest thing is not to dive straight into them – it is torture to have to wait for them to cool.
Making a homemade caramel sauce can seem scary but it is actually pretty easy. You just have to melt the sugar until it caramelizes – in this recipe to a light golden color – then stir in cream, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth and creamy and it is done. SO good!
You can also use this sauce over ice cream or to drizzle over a slice of pie or cake. Put it in a squeeze bottle if you want to make fancy designs on plates. Heck you can even do like I do and eat it by the spoonful, LOL. I also love to give this as gifts to my friends, just pour into cute jars, seal the lids, and it will last about a week in the refrigerator.
Back to today’s brownies. If you want to impress guests, make these and watch them swoon. Each bite is better than the last and it will be hard not to reach for a second piece. These brownies are moist and fudgy and you’ll definitely want to eat them with a fork – the caramel is quite sticky.
The recipe calls for a 9×13-inch baking pan but I think they would be even better baked in a 9-inch square pan so you get a thicker brownie. If you do this, you will need to increase the baking time accordingly. Then you could use less of the caramel if you want a thinner layer and save the rest for another dessert.
I would say these Dark Chocolate Brownies with Pecans and Caramel are a special occasion treat because of how fudgy and rich they are. They are the perfect way to kick-off your week.
Happy Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are cutting sticky foods, always use a long very sharp knife and run it under hot water between each cut. You won’t be dragging crumbs with you and each cut will be clean and sharp. I use my slicing blade for this, a great knife that works for many tasks and is a good investment.
Use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. You don’t need any additional xanthan gum, these are plenty sticky enough on their own.
- 12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; plus more for the pan
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 94g (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 22g (1/4 cup) natural cocoa powder (gluten-free if needed)
- 170g (1-1/2 cups) pecans, coarsely chopped
- Caramel Topping
- 198g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cold water (plus extra water for washing down the pan)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
- Make the Brownies: Put the butter and chocolate in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and stir often until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the eggs until well blended. Gradually whisk in the sugar and then beat until fully incorporated. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate mixture, vanilla, and salt, mixing until blended. Add the flour and cocoa powder, beating until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into an even layer. Use a spatula to carefully drag through the batter, dislodging any trapped air bubbles.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and, if there are any puffed areas, gently press them down with an offset spatula to level the top. Let cool about 5 minutes.
- Make the Caramel Topping: While the brownies are baking, make the caramel. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan with a light colored interior, stir the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water together. Brush the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with water and swirling gently a few times being careful not to splash, until the mixture is a medium golden color, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan of caramel from the heat and carefully add the cream—the mixture will bubble up so use a long-handled whisk. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the butter and gently whisk until completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Pour the caramel topping over the brownies, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly over the entire surface. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Let the brownies cool on the rack for 45 minutes and then refrigerate until the caramel topping is set, at least 1-1/2 hours. The longer it chills, the more solid the caramel will be.
- To Serve: Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper sling. Cut the brownies into 36 rectangles. Use a small offset spatula to slip underneath each one and transfer it to a serving plate. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- Yield: 36 brownies
- Make Ahead Tips: Cover the brownies with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap and it will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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