Chocolate and Caramel Brownies


Brownie Layer:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Caramel Layer:
3/4 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream - scalded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips - (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 ounces milk chocolate chips - (about 1 cup)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9" baking pan. Make the Brownie Layer: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. In a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate and the semisweet chocolate with the butter. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar and eggs until lightened and pale in color. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the center is set but still moist and a bit fudgy. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Prepare the Caramel Layer: In a small heavy saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then let boil without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber. While the syrup is boiling, brush down the sides of the pan from time to time with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Remove the pan from heat, then stir in the hot cream (be careful, it will bubble rapidly). Continue stirring, over low heat if necessary, until all the caramel is dissolved into the cream. Stir in the butter until smooth. Set the caramel aside until it has cooled slightly but is still spreadable.

To Assemble: Spread the caramel over the cooled brownie. Sprinkle the toppings--macadamia nuts, semisweet chips and milk chocolate chips--over the caramel layer and place the brownies in the oven for 5 minutes to set the topping (do not let the chips melt completely) Set on a wire rack to cool, then cut into squares.

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