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Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet and Salty Brownies

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I’ve made a new friend in the kitchen. Her (his?) name is Fleur de Sel. If you aren’t familiar with Fleur de Sel, you may want to get acquainted. The bottle I picked up at the gourmet spice shop near my parent’s home was worth every penny. If you can’t find it nearby, do yourself a favor and order a bottle off of Amazon.

After toying with the salty/sweet dessert combination (like in these cookies), I finally bit the bullet and went for the ultimate combo: rich, fudgy brownies with a salted caramel filling, topped with sugar in the raw and fleur de sel. I have Brown-Eyed Baker to thank, who took the infamous Baked Explorations brownie recipe and slightly adapted it to come up with this salty variation.

These brownies were knock-your-socks-off good. While Ryan still says these brownies are his favorite (that desperately need to be remade because the pictures don't do them justice!), I have moved this brownie recipe to the very top of my list. They take salty and sweet to a new level—the marriage of the two is best experienced, my words don’t carry the same impact that one bite will. Find yourself some fleur de sel, you won’t be disappointed!

(And now that I have a jarful of the stuff, you can expect more recipes on The Sweets Life featuring it…so your purchase won’t go to waste!)

One Year Ago: Raspberry Citrus Bars

Sweet and Salty Brownies
from Brown-Eyed Baker

for the salted caramel-
-1 cup granulated sugar
-2 tbsp light corn syrup
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 tsp fleur de sel
-1/4 cup sour cream

for the brownie batter-
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp table salt
-2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
-11 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
-1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-1/2 cup light brown sugar
-5 eggs, at room temperature
-2 tsp vanilla extract

for the topping-
-1 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
-1 tsp coarse sugar

1. To make the caramel, mix the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat until the mixture is dark amber in color (or an instant read thermometer reads 350F), 6-8 minutes (mine took longer than that!). Remove from heat, slowly add the cream (mixture will bubble), followed by the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9x13 inch pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
3. Whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
4. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until the mixture is completely melted and combined. Turn off the keep, add both sugars, and whisk until combined. Remove the bowl from the pan and set aside until it cools to room temperature.
5. Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture, whisking just until combined. Add the other two eggs and whisk just until combined. (Do not overbeat or brownies will be cakey!) Stir in vanilla.
6. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and fold the ingredients until just a trace amount of the flour mixture is visible.
7. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer, making sure the caramel doesn't come into contact with the edges of the pan (it will burn if it does!). Spread the caramel evenly over the brownie layer and then spoon the remaining brownie batter over the caramel. Smooth the batter gently to cover the caramel layer.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Brownies are done when you insert a toothpick in the center of the pan and it comes out with a few moist crumbs.
9. Remove brownies from the oven and sprinkle with fleur de sel and coarse sugar. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.