Sunday, December 5, 2010

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Sweet & Salty Brownie

This week's selection for BAKED Sunday Mornings is the Sweet & Salty Brownie. I was really looking forward to making these. I got to try them in the class I took with Matt and Renato at Central Market and really loved them. The only problem for me was they called for fleur de sel which I didn't have. When I went to the grocery store the only kind they had was $14 for the small container, and I really didn't want to spend that much on it so I decided to substitute regular sea salt which I already had.

The first step for making the brownies is to make caramel. Caramel has become one of my baking nemesis. Last time I made some for the Caramel Apple Cake it boiled over. I was determined to not let that happen this time. I think I just needed to make sure the cream was warm (which I did last time) and pour it in very, very slowly. Only problem this time was my sugar mixture burnt on the first try. I had my thermometer in there, and it never got anywhere near the 350 degrees when it was done.

Things went much better the second time around. I used the thermometer again but only as a gauge to know when it was getting closer. I really just went by color of the sugar mixture. I added the cream in small increments to keep it from boiling over, and it all worked. The only thing I wasn't thrilled with was it was a little too salty tasting with the sea salt rather than fleur de sel. I think I may have to put fleur de sel on my Christmas list (good stocking stuffer).

Next up was time to make the brownie batter. This was pretty simple. It just required using a double boiler to melt the chocolate and butter and then add the sugar.

Once the mixture cools the eggs and then the flour mixture are folded into the rest of the batter. By the way if anyone is wondering what method to use for measuring the flour in these recipes the authors told me they spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then level it with a knife. I personally prefer using weights, but as long as I know which method to use I figure it should come out pretty close to the right amount.

Half of the batter gets spread into a glass pan lined with parchment paper. Then the caramel is spread over that followed by the remaining batter. It then goes into the oven for 30 minutes. Mine took 35.

When they come out of the oven you sprinkle them with fleur de sel and course sugar. I used a little less sea salt than the recipe called for, but I think I should have cut it way down because they were a little salty. I will probably try brushing off a little of the salt before serving them.

Lining the brownie pan with parchment paper sure does make it easy to get the brownies out of the pan. I was actually able to lift them all out which makes serving much easier.

Since I have another thing to bake today and because the authors give instructions for freezing brownies I thought I would give that a try and take some of them to work for our holiday potluck on Friday.

Since I know my husband is one of those who prefers the end pieces, and I don't really have a preference I kept the end ones for us to try. I ate one for breakfast this morning. It was really good, and my only complaint is the salt flavor is a little too much. It's probably the sea salt vs. fleur de sel that caused that so maybe I'll try them again sometime with fleur de sel. The brownies are very moist, and I love the caramel flavor. I have a little caramel leftover so I might try drizzling some with the caramel.


  1. ב''ה

    Looks like a great recipe! I'll have to keep my eye out for that book. Too bad you could not find the fleur de sel.

  2. I have a 'thing' for plates and yours is so pretty, not to mention your brownie!

  3. ECL, thanks!

    Mendy, I definitely recommend both of Baked books. I found the fleur de sel, but it was just out of my price range for specialty ingredients right now.

    Elaine, thanks! The funny thing is the plate came from TJMaxx. I went there looking for pretty, inexpensive plates for my blog.

  4. Andrea, fleur de sel on a Christmas list -lol-only a foodie would have that on their list-other women want diamonds -just give us specialty food items ! My hubby loves the end pieces too-I had to create a little aluminum foil collar to put around the outside edges to stop them from getting any darker. Nice job and I too love the plate .

  5. those look great! I have to admit that I used coarse sea salt too ... I was sure I had the fleur de sel ... but it was actually vanilla salt - NOT THE SAME THING! the coarse sea salt still worked out. and my caramel burnted before hitting 350 F too ... so the second time round I just paid attention to the time - 6 minutes is perfect caramel for me! thanks for sharing your tips.

  6. I find I have similar problems with making caramel/reading the candy thermometer. I think your method has worked best for me too: use the thermometer as a guideline and just keep a close eye on it.

    Anyway, I too didn't want to shell out the cash for the fleur de sel, so I used sea salt. Mine was the extra coarse kind, so it probably didn't taste as strong to me because the larger pieces meant they weren't as spread out through the caramel as yours was. Or something like that. But thanks for the idea; I'm totally asking for fleur de sel in my stocking now!

    Your brownies look awesome, and yes, they freeze incredibly well!

  7. What a great recipe - enough for me to bite the bullet for the fleur de sel - after all it does go a looong way since you use such a little bit.
    Your Thanksgiving looked fun, but mostly I envy your Cordon Bleu classes!

  8. Seattle Pastry Girl, I think I go back and forth between the type of woman that wants baking stuff and diamonds. Thanks for starting this group!

    thetwistedchef and Bri, I think my thermometer could be the problem. I just don't think it works well with small amounts of liquid.

    Joan, I just love taking classes, and the Le Cordon Bleu one was a lot of fun. I'm going to have to try some of their other classes.

    I think I may bite the bullet and buy some fleur de sel next time a recipe calls for some.