I love caramel and chocolate. 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 case 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. 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 your 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 or a special treat to serve at your Super Bowl party.
Happy Chocolate Monday!
How to make Dark Chocolate Brownies with Pecans and Caramel (Gluten Free):
- Butter and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together, then cool slightly.
- Beat the eggs, then whisk in the sugar; add the chocolate mixture, vanilla, and salt, mixing until fully blended.
- Pour into prepared pan, drag a spatula through the batter to release any trapped air bubbles, and bake about 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- While the brownies are baking, cook the caramel; combine the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water together; boil to a medium golden color, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pour caramel over the brownies, spreading to the edges; sprinkle with the pecans and let cool, then refrigerate until thickened, at least 1-1/2 hours.
- Lift the brownies out of the pan and cut into squares. Serve on plates with forks for enjoying.
Do I always need to use a candy thermometer?
When you are trying to get the right texture in candy, using a thermometer is an absolute must. But when you are making a layer vs. chewy candy, you can go more by the color than a specific temperature.
When making caramel, always use a light-colored saucepan so you can easily see the changing color of the sugar syrup. A dark pan will not show the subtle changes and you run the risk of burning the caramel.
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 the blade and each cut will be clean and sharp. I use my slicing blade for this, a great knife that works for many tasks.
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Unsweetened chocolate
- All-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- Cocoa powder
- Heavy cream
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links)
- 9×13-inch baking pan with lid
- Parchment paper
- Medium saucepan
- Stand mixer
- Offset spatula
- Long sharp knife
Other Brownie Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Fudgy Kahlua Brownies
- Double Decker Chocolate Brownies
- Brownies with Cheesecake Frosting
- Reese’s Brownies
- Rich Coconut Almond Brownies
- Easy Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. You don’t need any additional xanthan gum, these will hold together enough on their own without crumbling.
- 12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces;
- 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
- 170g (1-1/2 cups) pecans, coarsely chopped
- 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 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. Drag a spatula through the batter, releasing 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.
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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 73gFiber: 1gSugar: 67gProtein: 2g
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This post was first shared in Aug 2017. The article was updated in 2020.