Elizabeth Poett's Fudgy Caramel Brownies

Fudgy Caramel Brownies

byElizabeth Poett
Total 5 hours (includes cooling time)
Active 40 mins
Makes 12 brownies
If anyone says chocolate and caramel in the same sentence I’m the first one to turn my head. To me, these flavors together make heaven. This is a decadent recipe that I have in my cookbook, The Ranch Table, and I make it as an easy dessert to feed a group of ranchers after a long day of work. I love making my own caramels, but if you don't have time you can always buy soft caramels and use those instead.
TIP: Baking the first layer of brownie batter ensures that the bottom firms up before the caramels overcook and harden. You can use store-bought caramels, but they must be soft caramels, not hard ones.
Special Equipment
a candy thermometer
Special Equipment
a candy thermometer
For the homemade caramels
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 1/2 teaspoon for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
For the brownies
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade caramels (see above), or 4 1/2 ounces Werther’s Original soft caramels, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt or other flaky sea salt
    1. For the homemade caramels (makes about 110 caramels): Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with about 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Line the dish with parchment paper, folding at the corners of the dish so that the parchment covers the sides.
    2. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter in a medium-sized heavy pot over medium heat. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt while stirring constantly. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.
    3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and the cream to the mixture. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot so that the tip of the thermometer is in the liquid but not touching any part of the pot. Continue to stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240°F to 245°F. This should take 15 to 20 minutes. If you feel the mixture sticking, reduce the heat to medium-low or low. The liquid will begin to bubble and will begin to turn a golden-brown caramel color.
    4. Once the thermometer reads 240°F to 245°F, turn off the heat and immediately pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Let the caramel cool uncovered until it reaches room temperature, at least 1 1/2 hours.
    5. Remove the caramel from the pan and cut it into 1-inch pieces. The caramels are now ready to add to the brownie mixture. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of caramels for the brownies. There will be extra caramels. They can be eaten right away, or wrapped individually in parchment paper squares and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
    6. For the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil and line the bottom and sides with parchment.
    7. Place the butter in a large heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water until melted. Add the sugar, cocoa, and kosher salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and everything is well mixed. This should take about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and move the bowl to a heat-proof surface.
    8. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until the mixture looks silky. Add the flour gradually and stir until the batter is uniform in texture. Scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl. Mix for another minute to ensure there are no remaining lumps of flour.
    9. Pour one third of the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it out with a rubber spatula. There should be enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin, even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, until the batter is barely starting to firm on top.
    10. Remove the pan from the oven. Scatter all of the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the partially baked batter. Arrange the caramels evenly over the top of the chocolate chip layer. Spoon the remaining batter over the top and gently spread it out evenly with a spatula. Be sure to cover the caramels and chocolate chips completely.
    11. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until the top is just starting to firm up and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with very moist crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the flaky salt on top.
    12. Let the brownies cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Carefully pull the parchment and brownies from the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into 12 squares and serve.