baking. cooking. eating.

Salted Caramel Cocoa Brownies

by flavorthemoments on June 17, 2014

salted caramel cocoa brownies1

Salted Caramel Cocoa Brownies are the fudgiest cocoa brownies with a crispy, crackly exterior smothered with a to die for Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream frosting.  You’ll enjoy every single sweet and salty bite of this highly addictive brownie!

salted caramel cocoa brownies1

My oldest niece graduated high school this past weekend, which made me feel very old (as if I needed any help there). :)  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the photo of her and I.  She’s so grown up!  I told her for her graduation dinner that I would make whatever kind of cupcake she wanted.  Guess what she chose?  My Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream.  What a great choice. :)  The sweet and salty thing is my absolute favorite, and apparently, it’s my niece’s too.

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What do those cupcakes have to do with these brownies?  The luscious frosting, of course!  I had some frosting leftover from the cupcakes, and there was no way I was wasting it.  No, sir.  Since I was in charge of dessert for a Father’s Day barbecue, too, I thought I had to make a batch of brownies and frost them with the leftovers.  Oh, and they weren’t complete without a little drizzle of salted caramel sauce and a sprinkle of Maldon salt either.  Don’t you agree? :)

I wasn’t able to photograph the brownies before I left, so I was secretly hoping I would have a few left. I came home with 5 left — which was just enough for a photo shoot.  A very yummy photo shoot which ended with me eating one of the brownies.  Being a food blogger is very rewarding. ;)

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These brownies are some of the most special brownies ever.  I’ve made delicious cocoa brownies before, but I specifically Googled “Alice Medrich brownies” and this recipe for “Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies” came up.  Alice Medrich is the queen of chocolate, and I truly believed if they were created by her, they would be the best.  They were just that — these brownies are so chocolatey, fudgy, and the outside is crispy and crackly just the way they should be.  So good.  They would’ve been great with just a sprinkle of salt, but remember, I had salted caramel chocolate buttercream I needed to use up. :)

As for the cocoa powder, I splurged on Valrhona cocoa for my niece’s cupcakes, and I used them here.  It does make a difference, and is worth the extra money.  You can find it at Whole Foods, Sur La Table, or Amazon.com.  It made these brownies taste even chocolatier!  For special occasions, it’s totally warranted.

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As great as the brownies were all by themselves, the frosting took them to new heights.  I’m talking sweet and salty heights here, and once you taste these brownies, there’s no going back.  These are the brownies of dreams, folks, and I hope you make this dream a reality very soon. :)

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Salted Caramel Cocoa Brownies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 18 small triangular, 16 small squares, or 9 large squares

Salted Caramel Cocoa Brownies

Salted Caramel Cocoa Brownies are the fudgiest cocoa brownies with a crispy, crackly exterior smothered with a to die for Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream frosting. You'll enjoy every single sweet and salty bite of this highly addictive brownie!

Ingredients

For the brownies:

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder* (I used Valrhona)

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, cold

1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 teaspoon fleur de sel (I used Maldon salt)

For the buttercream:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon milk

1/2 cup salted caramel sauce

1 teaspoon fleur de sel

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Instructions

Prepare the brownies:

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides. Set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and place in large pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth and just hot enough to the point that when you touch it you want to remove your finger quickly. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and set aside briefly until it's no longer hot -- just a bit warm.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. When the batter is thick, shiny, and well-blended, add the flour and stir it until incorporated. From there, beat it vigorously with the wooden spoon for 40 strokes. Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the surface has puffed up evenly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a bit of moist batter. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the salted caramel sauce:

Place the sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium low heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high, and boil the sugar without stirring. If the sugar begins to crystallize on the sides of the pan, carefully use a wet pastry brush to brush it off. Boil until the sugar turns a deep amber color, being careful not to burn, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream a bit at a time, as the caramel will bubble over if too much is added at once. Whisk in the butter and fleur de sel. Transfer to a dish to cool.

Prepare the buttercream:

Place the butter and powdered sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until the sugar has been incorporated. Add the milk, caramel sauce and fleur de sel, and beat until combined. Add the melted chocolate, and beat until incorporated. Once incorporated, beat the buttercream at medium high speed for 3 minutes until creamy.

When the brownies have cooled, remove from the pan and place on a cutting board. Frost with the salted caramel frosting and cut into 9 large brownies, then cut each brownie in half diagonally. Drizzle with extra salted caramel sauce and Maldon salt, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

*The better the cocoa, the better the brownies. I used Valrhona 100% cocoa and it was worth the extra money. You can find it at Whole Foods, cooking stores such as Sur La Table or online at Amazon.com.

Brownies and frosting are best at room temperature, so if you refrigerate them, make sure to leave them out at room temperature at least one hour prior to serving.

Cocoa brownie recipe adapted from Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies.

Salted Caramel Sauce adapted from Tante Marie Cooking School, San Francisco, CA.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttercream recipe from Flavor the Moments.

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Zainab June 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Your niece has great taste!! It does not get better than chocolate and salted caramel! I love these brownies…and that frosting!!
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:46 am

I was very happy that she chose those cupcakes, and they led to my favorite brownies ever! Thanks, Zainab, and have a great day! :)

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Serene @ House of Yumm June 17, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Salted caramel makes my heart go pitter patter! These look amazing Marcie! Loving that frosting and the caramel sauce! Yum!
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 7:01 am

Salted caramel does that to me, too, Serene! I don’t know why I’ve never gotten around to doing this with brownies before because these were pretty much my favorite thing ever. :) Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

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Matt Robinson June 17, 2014 at 9:54 pm

You completely had me at salted caramel. Love these Marcie!
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 7:06 am

Salted caramel is the best! Thanks, Matt. :)

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Consuelo - Honey & Figs June 17, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Just like your cupcakes, these sound like the best thing ever! I adore the sound of the salted caamel frosting, and I bet it pairs wonderfully with the dark chocolate!
Congrats to your niece! (yup, I saw the photo and you both look beautiful!) xx
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 7:07 am

I liked this frosting with brownies even more — they were so melt-in-your-mouth! Thank you, Consuelo! :)

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Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice June 18, 2014 at 4:58 am

I’m in caramel heaven! This look amazing! Definitely a perfect brownie combination!
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 7:08 am

Thank you, Gayle! The sweet and salty thing is my favorite. :)

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Meghan @ Spoonful of Flour June 18, 2014 at 5:31 am

Oh yess..these definitely sound like the brownies of my dreams!

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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 7:14 am

When I had leftovers, I found myself thinking about these all day until I had one. So bad. haha Thanks, Meghan! :)

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Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) June 18, 2014 at 7:27 am

I now want all of my brownies smothered in that perfect salted caramel!!
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 8:59 am

I’m not sure if I can do just plain brownies anymore. Haha. Thx, Jocelyn!

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Jen @ Yummy Healthy Easy June 18, 2014 at 7:28 am

Wowza! Brownies are my very favorite dessert and these are beautiful! I love the buttercream and the caramel! Congrats to your niece – my oldest niece just started college last year and I felt so old when she started. How on earth does time fly so quickly?!
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Brownies are my favorite dessert, too. Learning how to make caramel sauce has turned me into a monster, too! haha Time does fly, too — before we know it our own kids will be graduating, right? Thanks, Jen! :)

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Traditionally Modern Food June 18, 2014 at 8:36 am

Yummy.. Mouth watering brownies
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Thank you! :)

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Kelly June 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

Oh my wow! Totally in love with these salty and sweet brownies Marcie – they look incredible! Yay and congrats to your niece – she must have been thrilled with the cupcakes – I am still dreaming about those too after you shared them here :)

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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Thank you, Kelly! I’m going to be dreaming about them until I make them again! :)

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Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes June 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

Love these brownies Marcie! The salted caramel topping sounds DIVINE!! I would love to sink my teeth into one of these.
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Thank you, Jessica! :)

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Carol at Wild Goose Tea June 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

If the brownie isn’t fudgy, then I could care less. BUT this wonderful topping would even make a dry brownie quite splendid. Believe it or not I just discovered the wonder of salted caramel a little over a year ago.
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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Fudgy brownies are the only kind…I agree completely. I was late getting on the salted caramel bandwagon, too, but I’m definitely making up for lost time. It doesn’t matter when…the important thing is that we discovered it. :)

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Pat June 18, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Oh, yummy! Great combination of flavors. I love it! :)

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flavorthemoments June 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Thank you, Pat! It’s definitely my favorite! :)

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Mary Frances June 19, 2014 at 5:27 am

Congrats to your niece! And congrats to us, for getting this recipe. WOW is it amazing! Brownies with some sweet and salty … mmm, I’m drooling everywhere! Love this, pinned!
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

It sounds like you have to wipe down your keyboard. haha Sweet & salty is where it’s at! Thank you for the nice comment, as always, and for the pin! :)

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Liz June 19, 2014 at 7:47 am

Can’t wait to try these Marcie! They look AMAZING! :)
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I loved these WAY too much! Thanks, Liz! :)

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Sarah@WholeAndHeavenlyOven June 19, 2014 at 7:51 am

Congrats to your niece! How exciting for your family! I can see why she chose those cupcakes. They look fabulous! Anything with salted caramel and chocolate is a winner in my book. Also, these brownies look downright amazing. LOVE that fluffy caramel frosting! Pinned.
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thanks, Sarah, and I appreciate the pin! :)

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Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor June 19, 2014 at 8:37 am

Oh, I love Valrhona cocoa powder. It looks like it made these brownies incredibly rich and decadent, just how I like them :)
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Valrhona really did make a huge difference, and is so worth the splurge! Thanks, Ashley, and have a great day! :)

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dina June 19, 2014 at 9:54 am

the buttercream looks delicious!
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I normally don’t care much for buttercream, but when there’s caramel sauce in it, it’s a whole different story. :) Thanks, Dina!

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Ami@NaiveCookCooks June 19, 2014 at 10:28 am

These brownies are pure pleasure. Such great looking too!
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Thank you, Ami! It really was just that — pure pleasure! :)

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Lisa @ Cooking with Curls June 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Wow, those brownies look amazing Marcie! I can just imagine how awesome the salted caramel and cocoa taste. :)
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flavorthemoments June 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Thank you, Lisa, and this is definitely of the the awesome-est combinations in my book! :)

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Ashley June 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Marcie you need to make more and send me some!! haha or I guess I could just make my own : ) Seriously these look amazingly ridiculous. Between the brownie itself, that buttercream and the caramel … and the salt!!
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 7:27 am

I’d be glad to send you some…all of them…because I can’t have these in the house anymore. They’re calling my name at every turn! haha Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Ashley! :)

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Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen June 19, 2014 at 7:01 pm

The look absolutely mouth-wateringly gorgeous! And Marcie – I need some of these right now. So can you send over a dozen please? In fact, I’d be happy having the only 5 you have left. :-)
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 7:29 am

I’m shipping them off now, Kristi! haha Thanks, and have yourself a wonderful weekend! :)

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Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes June 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Oh my! I love all the flavors here!!
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 7:29 am

Thank you, Ashley! :)

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Samina | The Cupcake Confession June 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm

I realllllly LOOVVVEEEE a dense, fudgy brownie and looking at this makes me SOOOO happy!!!!!!!!!!! *-* <3 That frosting just takes this brownie to a whole new level of awesomeness!!!! I sooooo need to make these! Pinning! :D
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 7:32 am

This brownie recipe is the best ever! Thanks Samina, and I hope you get to try them soon! :)

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whatjessicabakednext June 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

The brownies look heavenly! Love that salted caramel topping- amazing!
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Thank you, Jessica! :)

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Aimee / WallflowerGirl.co.uk June 20, 2014 at 10:43 am

Oh my… this is jaw-droppingly delicious!
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Thank you, Aimee! :)

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Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner June 20, 2014 at 11:52 am

I’m a sucker for brownies and these look amazingly delicious! I’m loving this flavor combo. :)
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flavorthemoments June 20, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Thank you, Tina! Hope you have a great weekend. :)

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Cate @ Chez CateyLou June 20, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Congrats to your niece! And what good taste she has in cupcakes :) I’m so glad you put that icing to good use – these brownies look unreal!! YUM!!
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flavorthemoments June 21, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Thank you, Cate! There was no way I was wasting that frosting. :)

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Kloe's Kitchen June 21, 2014 at 7:22 am

Marcie, these brownies look amazing! I love salted caramel, but add brownies and I am afraid I would lose all sense of self control. :) Thanks for sharing!!
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flavorthemoments June 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I certainly had trouble keeping my self control with these around. Biggest weakness ever! Thanks, Kloe, and have a great weekend! :)

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Cindy @ Pick Fresh Foods June 21, 2014 at 8:50 am

Wow, Marcie these look amazing! Glad you were able to get a few to photograph. I love this combination of brownie and salted caramel. I need to check out that cocoa :D
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flavorthemoments June 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Thank you, Cindy! Hope you’re having a great weekend. :)

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Jennifer Johnson June 21, 2014 at 10:41 am

Oh my these look incredible
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flavorthemoments June 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Thank you, Jennifer! :)

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Jocelyn@BruCrew Life June 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

These look fabulous!! I could dive right into that frosting!! :)
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Karly June 29, 2014 at 7:08 am

Craving these right now! Thanks for linking up with What’s Cookin’ Wednesday!
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flavorthemoments June 30, 2014 at 10:55 am

I could go for some more of these, too! Thanks, Karly! :)

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