Tell someone you want them to try a caramel brownie, and they are almost certain to groan at the idea – but in a good way. Caramel and chocolate seems like too much of a good thing, an overload of sugar and fat. In fact, the buttery caramel can provide a nice complement to the brownie, if the brownie is kept on the bitter side with dark chocolate and a little coffee.
My first caramel brownie attempt was to follow a tweeted suggestion by Edd Kimber, The Boy Who Bakes and star of last year’s Great British Bake Off. He suggested sandwiching a layer of caramel between two layers of brownie mixture, and I knew I had to try it. I chilled the brownie layers to make it easier to spread the caramel out, and then chilled the whole thing for a few hours before baking. I was trying to minimise the amount of overflow from the caramel as it bubbles up, but I should have known that caramel will find any way out it can. Still, most of the caramel remained where it was supposed to be, the foil lining the tin prevented it from gluing itself to the tin, and the extra-cooked caramel around the edges turned into toffee, which was another good addition.
Still, I felt like a bite-sized solution was needed, both to help with the caramel overflow problem, and to provide the appropriate portion size for these intense bites. With a caramel sauce that is spoonable at room temperature, you can spoon the caramel onto the brownie mixture, top with more mixture, and then bake the whole thing in little paper cases.
Caramel brownie cups
These little cups resemble Rolos – caramel in the centre and chocolate around the outside. The brownie mixture is adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich. Beating the flour in is not traditional, but helps hold together a mixture that would otherwise be quite crumbly.
Preparation time – around 45 minutes.
- 1 jar caramel sauce or dulce de leche (bought, or see recipe below)
- 120g unsalted butter
- 35g cocoa
- 90g dark chocolate, chopped or broken up
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp strong coffee, or 1/2 tsp coffee granules dissolved in 1tbsp hot water
- 2 large eggs
- 75g plain flour
Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan oven/. Line two mini muffin tins with paper cases.
Put the butter, cocoa and chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over hot water or in the microwave. Stir gently until smooth.
Add the sugar into this bowl, along with the vanilla and coffee if using and mix thoroughly.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture after each one until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour, and stir until combined, then beat together for about 30 strokes.
Using two teaspoons, spoon about a level teaspoon of brownie mixture into each of the paper cases, filling them around one-third full.
Use another two teaspoons to add about half a teaspoon of caramel to each case. Finish with another teaspoon of brownie mixture, so that each case is almost full. If you have leftover brownie mixture, bake in muffin cases or a loaf tin for 20 minutes, or chill for up to 24 hours and use later.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture has risen slightly and cracked just a little at the edges. The cups can also be prepared ahead, covered with cling film and refrigerated until ready to bake.
If freezing, cool the cases in the tins, then freeze until solid before putting the cases into a freezer bag and sealing.
(adapted from Dan Lepard’s All Purpose Caramel recipe)
If you have leftover cream in the fridge, making a caramel sauce will preserve the cream almost indefinitely. Making caramel is something lots of people are worried about, but it’s entirely a matter of confidence – it’s incredibly simple to make. This recipe also features in Dan’s wonderful new book, Short and Sweet.
Makes 1 jar
- 75g granulated sugar
- 35g unsalted butter
- 100g double cream
- 75g other sugars (for example, 25g dark muscovado + 25g light muscovado + 25g caster)
- 35g golden syrup
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Tip the granulated sugar into a heavy based pan, and add one or two tablespoons of water – enough just to moisten all the sugar. Weigh out and have ready all the other ingredients.
Put on the lid and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar to a clear syrup. Remove the lid, and boil hard until the sugar starts to turn golden brown. Watch it very carefully at this stage, and swirl it a little to keep the colour even.
Cook until the caramel reaches a deep reddish brown.
As soon as the caramel reaches the colour you want, remove it from the heat and add the butter. Stir carefully, as it may spit. Then add the other sugars, golden syrup, cream and salt, and stir together until smooth.
Return the caramel to the heat and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer until the temperature reaches 114C on a sugar thermometer – this will give you a thick caramel sauce, the consistency of set honey at room temperature. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, simply reboil the mixture for 3 minutes – you may end up with a thinner sauce, but it will still be good.
Remove from the heat and pour into a clean jam jar. Kept in the fridge, this will last at least 6 months.