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!
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.
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. 😉
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.
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. 🙂
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder* (I used Valrhona)
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, cold
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (I used Maldon salt)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon milk
- ½ cup salted caramel sauce
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.