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caramel brownies - how do i prevent the caramel from sinking to the bottom??

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i saw these salted caramel brownies on "the best thing i ever ate" so i set out to recreate them. the original version has a layer of oozing caramel in the middle of an otherwise plain brownie and i can't figure out how to keep the caramel from sinking. do i need to par bake the bottom layer of the brownie?

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  1. I share your interest in the mystery. I wonder if it might be the type of caramel they use (consistency) or the consistency of their brownie batter. I'm sure they don't par-bake the bottom layer because that would cause havoc with two unevenly baked layers. If you don't think it's any of the above you might try using less caramel or combining the caramel with a little bit of whipped fluff so the cumulative weight of the caramel isn't as great.

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      "I'm sure they don't par-bake the bottom layer because that would cause havoc with two unevenly baked layers."
      ~~~~~~~
      maybe not. some of the recipes i've seen for caramel-filled brownies actually are written that way.

      these call for par-baking the bottom layer:
      http://www.cookiemadness.net/?p=186
      http://basicallybaked.wordpress.com/2...
      http://brownieloversdiary.com/2009/04...

      this one doesn't:
      http://www.bakingandboys.com/2009/11/...

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Thanks for the info. I don't believe I've ever seen that technique demonstrated. So, tastycakes, I think that might be your answer.

        The link (http://basicallybaked.wordpress.com/2...) doesn't provide the full info., but you can get the whole enchilada at:

        http://www.cookiemadness.net/?p=779

      2. re: todao

        OT but what recipe did you use to make the bread in your avatar?

      3. I saw that show - and man did she make me want to buy a ticket to NY for that brownie. If you google Baked Brownie - Matt Lewis - you'll find the recipe for their standard brownie - which is also supposed to be out of this world. On the Martha Stewart site is a recipe for their (Baked) salted caramel - which is the filling for their sweet and salty cake - but I think if you put these two together - you may have the winning combo. I'm going to try it!

        1. Then again you can buy them direct from the source - BAKED, only (!!!) $21 for 6 (seems to include shipping), $38 for 12 (+$17 for shipping).

          For that money you can do a lot of experimenting to find something you like. Please come back and let us know how it goes for you. I saw the show, too - and boy, they DID look delish!

          1. Here's the BAKED "Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake" recipe

            Description: This is our signature creation, our most loved cake, and our most requested recipe. Is all this attention warranted? Absolutely. Our Sweet and Salty Cake is an indulgent but sophisticated adult sweet: The perfectly salted caramel contrasts beautifully with the rich chocolate layers, giving the cake balance and character. It probably goes without saying that the salted caramel is also delicious poured over dark chocolate ice cream.

            http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/ild...

            It includes the recipe for Salted Caramel which might be the same as what they use in the brownies.

            1. Here's a link for the BAKED brownie recipe (not the caramel, but the basic brownie recipe)

              http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/ild...

              2 Replies
              1. re: housewolf

                I'm another one from the" how do I do this?" camp. Have tried several times and almost without exception the caramel sinks. I do par bake the bottom layer and it still happens. I make my own caramel instead of melting commercial ones that often make up that layer. I know it can go on top, but then serving becomes an issue because they are so sticky, tough to wrap and pass on as gifts. Consistency is most likely the key so the quest goes on. For the time being, I'm making brownies with a peanut butter layer. No complaints there!

                1. re: tweetie

                  tweetie, is your homemade caramel thick enough? maybe try cooking it a bit longer - if it's even the slightest bit runny when you layer it onto the par-baked brownie base, it'll sink in.

              2. Ok...so...I can't figure out why someone is using this post to advertise their salted caramel cake...yes we all love the idea...but this person is seeking help. That isn't help. NOW...a good brownie recipe will describe it's batter as being very dense and thick. The batter they used on the television program did not pour. It came out of the mixing bowl as a big lumpy glob. This way you can spread it out in to a nice dense cake of batter, smooth the caramel over it, and leave about an 1/2 inch at the edges all around so the second brownie batter layer seals it all inside so your brownie pan isn't a sticky mess during cleanup. Then you clump the second layer of brownie mix in a glob in the center of the caramel. Work the batter towards the edges (try not to push things around too much as as to disturb lower layers) and even it all out. Any double fudge brownie recipe will work. Basic brownie batter is pretty thin. Modify this Turtle Brownie Recipe to your particular tastes. Fleur De Sel or any flakey sea salt is great. Or Salish, which is sea salt smoked over an alder fire...but then you'll have to call them Jeffie's Killer Karamel brownies or I'll have to hurt you (joke)

                1. I'm a novice, so I really hope this doesn't sound goofy, but why could you not just sandwich unmelted caramels between the brownie layers? Wouldn't they melt in the cooking, and not get too runny to sink because they are not thinned with liquid?

                  1. update:

                    i made several more batches using a par-bake method, and it seems to work the best although i'd love to have a recipe that requires a little less work. i use the no-fail brownie from king arthur flour and my own caramel. if you take a basic caramel sauce recipe, cut the cream in half, and add a good helping of maldon salt, it should work. i pour half the brownie batter in the pan, totally lined with parchment so the whole thing can be lifted out of the pan without sticking, and bake just til set but still looks moist in the center. the caramel should be fresh or else you will have to rewarm it to make it pourable.

                    i tried using thicker brownie batter and cold caramel and the caramel still sunk. the brownies are quite fantastic either way and personally i prefer the sunken caramel to the caramel in the center because the bottom gets very crispy and bitter, but the caramel oozing out of the center always wows people.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: tastycakes

                      No need to par-bake. I ordered the BAKED brownies and found that the caramel didn't ooze out of the middle; it was baked into the brownie (pretty disappointing for the price I paid). They were delicious, though. Maybe the brownies from the actual BAKED bakery are oozy... Anyway, I've attempted to make salted caramel brownies twice and I think I’m super close to having my official recipe. Both times I used a Betty Crocker brownie mix (the one with the Hershey’s packet) and store bought caramels. I’m sure I’ll attempt these with homemade brownies and homemade caramel sauce, but I tend to have the store bought stuff handy.

                      Here’s what I did the first time:

                      Make the brownie mix as the package says
                      Heat about 24 caramels (unwrapped) in the microwave with ¼ cup of nonfat milk and about ½ tsp. of sea salt. Microwave for about 3 minutes, mixing every now and then. The caramel sauce will be runny. This is where I added a little more sea salt (no more than 1 tsp. total).
                      Pour ½ brownie batter in a prepared 13x9 baking pan and spread even. I only poured about ½ the caramel sauce mixture over ½ the brownie batter (this was my first attempt, so I didn’t want to “ruin” a whole pan of brownies). Then I scooped the rest of the brownie batter on top and spread it even. The problem was, when I spread the batter, the caramel sauce began to mix into the batter. I baked it as the brownie package says and one ½ of the brownie looked totally different than the other half (obviously because of the caramel sauce). I have to say, the caramel side was not oozy at all, but it was fantastic.

                      Here’s what I did the second time:

                      Make the brownie mix as the package says
                      Heat about 24 caramels (unwrapped) in the microwave with ¼ cup ½ & ½ and 1 tsp. of sea salt. Microwave for about 3 minutes, mixing every now and then. The caramel sauce will be runny.
                      Pour ½ brownie batter in a prepared 13x9 baking pan and spread even. Pour the caramel sauce to cover the batter and spread even. SLOWLY pour the rest of the brownie batter so it falls out of the bowl in a thin ribbon (hold the bowl higher up) and cover the top of the caramel layer in a back/forth motion. If you do this slowly, you can cover all of the caramel completely with the brownie batter, with no need to spread even. Bake as package says, but it’s tricky because the toothpick doesn’t come out clean since the middle is oozy. I baked it until I thought it was done and let it cool. They looked like regular brownies until you cut into them and the middle was super gooey. I felt that they were a little too salty, but everyone else loved them. I will be doing everything the same, except using less salt.

                      1. re: cooking.w.joy

                        With brownies I find you can smell when they're done pretty much. Thanks for these tips!

                        1. re: cooking.w.joy

                          I'm new to Chowhound, found it when looking for the recipe for Sweet & Salty Brownies after seeing the segment on FoodTV tonight. I marvel at the collaboration here and that we can benefit from one another's experience. Thanks for sharing, now I feel I can try this!

                          1. re: another.foodie

                            I think I'll only use a 1/2 - 3/4 tsp. of sea salt. Let me say that I'm a little picky when it comes to salted caramels. What other people find amazing (like Frans salted caramels), I find too salty. So 1 tsp. of sea salt might work for most people. I'll just use less.

                          2. re: cooking.w.joy

                            I just re-read the second try on your brownies. Since you said it was a little too salty, how much salt are you planning to use next time.

                        2. Pioneer Woman has a caramel brownie recipe that looks worth trying: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/20...

                          She adds gelatin to her caramel topping to help it set, per a recipe from a bakery.

                          1. I first ordered the brownies and they were to die for !!!The caramel was infused through the brownies so i did not think the caramel was meant to be in the middle. When I made the caramel I only went to 300 degrees and made a lighter caramel. I also only used 2/3's of the caramel since the recipe was based off of a larger cake ..... and the caramel stayed in the middle :) !! They are delicious !!! There was alot of caramel in the middle so next time I am going to only use 1/2 of the caramel and get 2 batches of brownies out of it . No pre baking of bottom required !

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sano_goddess

                              Would you kindly post your recipe? I would love to make it exactly.

                            2. here is a link I found, with a recipe of the Sea salt caramel brownies :) I loved that episode of the "best things ever", wanted that recipe too :)
                              http://www.doughmesstic.net/2010/03/0...

                              1. After seeing this episode, I immediately set out to make these. I use my standby brownie recipe (quite thick) which is the first result if you google "best brownies". I make a double batch. However, first I make a batch of fleur de sel caramels, using a recipe I pulled from Epicurious. I use a large pan (9 X 13) lined with parchment, then fill this with the caramel and let it cool. It doesn't have to be completely cooled, but it is easier to work with. After that cools sufficiently, I use the same pan and parchment (you can set the caramel aside on a cooling rack) and make the brownie batter. I cook about half of it in the oven for about 15 minutes, then layer the caramel and rest of the brownie on top. It takes around 20 minutes to finish cooking, but of course that is approximate. You can tell when it's done by simply doing the fork test to the caramel layer. Usually I have some caramel oozing out the edges, but those pieces are always the best!

                                I have made the brownies this way many times with perfect results every time. The caramel doesn't sink, and the brownies are cooked through but still dense and fudgy. They're dangerous to have around though so I usually share the bounty with my coworkers. I have found it is best to chill them, then remove them and cut them with a sharp knife on a cutting board when they're cold. You can get really pretty lines and see the caramel all the way through. With this recipe, you are virtually guaranteed caramel in every bite!

                                Hope this helps!

                                1. Hi tastycakes,
                                  I tried the recipe straight out of the cookbook a couple of days ago, and I had no problems with the caramel sinking and the brownies were amazing.. here's a link to my blog with the recipe and some photos.. :)
                                  http://sephieskitchen.blogspot.com/20...