Monday, July 21, 2014

Caramel Brownies

The recipe said to use drugstore caramels. Whaaaaat? The Toppled Chef would rather not bake brownies at all than use those waxy, corn syrup-laden squares that contain artificial flavor. A caramel should taste like caramel because it IS caramel, thinks the Toppled Chef. And so she created some ooey gooey drippy brownies with a panful of blood orange-infused caramel that tasted so ambrosial, it was like eating flower-strewn earth from fairyland. Bonus: the natural ingredients don't leave your esophagus feeling as if it's lined with plastic bags and your head aching with fake candy malaise.

This could serve a gaggle of adults and children.





1 1/2 cups sugar
9 Tbsps salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
Tbsp or so fresh juice from a blood orange (optional)

Brownie Batter


3 1/2 sticks butter (the other half-stick is the angel's share?)
heaping cup bittersweet chocolate chips
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
pinch salt



Butter (if you can stomach it) a 9 x 13 baking pan.




Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. The sugar will clump up and turn golden-brown. Keep a close eye on it and note the moment it turns a pleasing shade of amber--the sugar will darken and calcify into a bitter mass in the blink of an eye.

Add the butter right away, being careful of spatter.

Stir the butter into the sugar until it is completely melted.

Drizzle in the heavy cream S L O W L Y, unless you want caramelized, inedible chunks of crystalized butter.

Allow the mixture to boil for one minute.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Squeeze in a few tablespoons of blood orange if you want. Rum would also be divine.

You can store the caramel in the refrigerator if you make it ahead of time. You may want to let it warm before using.




Preheat the oven to 350.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or the pan-within-a-pan-of-boiling-water used by the Tipsy Crumpet. Stir until just melted and let cool.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate mixture.

Sift the flour and salt into the chocolate mixture. Mix until well-combined.

Pour half the batter into the baking pan and spread until even.

Refrigerate for 10 minutes (you can make the caramel during this time).

Pull the brownie pan out of the refrigerator and pour the caramel on top. Depending on how gooey you want the brownies to be, you may want to use half the caramel and save the rest for later.

Refrigerate the pan for 20 more minutes to allow the caramel to set.

Pull the brownie pan out again and spread the rest of the brownie batter on top. Let the pan come to room temperature before putting in the oven.

Bake for 35 minutes, and then check for doneness.

Using the entire amount of caramel produced a fascinating oven phenomenon for me. A crackly crust emerged that was raised by a bubbling lava of caramel such that the brownie looked like a sacred tablet held aloft by a host. I baked for nearly an hour before declaring the confection done. Using less caramel may produce a more normal baking experience. When in doubt, if the caramel starts hardening and turning a darker shade of brown, it's time to pull out the pan. I promise the brownie will settle into a traditional form, although I can't promise that it will ever be tamed in spirit.

Pull the beast out of the oven and let it cool on a rack for a good long while.

You will want to refrigerate before attempting to cut these. Good luck!



  • You don't have to cut these. Spooning out brownie fluff will produce enticing caverns with caramel runoff.
  • You don't have to flavor the caramel, but orange, blood orange, rum, whiskey, and brandy would all add to the decadence.
  • A little of these go a long way. Best for a party or barbecue!


5 stars--worth having to clean the crusty pan.

1 comment:

  1. Fake candy malaise? Does this pose a threat to coworkers suffering the kitchen rejects? Looks tasty.