Chocolate Caramel Brownie Squares

I was just in a play (a musical, actually) and someone brought in a ginormous bag of turtles.  Not actual turtles of course, but the chocolate and caramel candies.  They were amazing, though I’m not sure who’s bright idea it was to bring in chocolate before you have sing for two hours…

Anyway, I don’t really make much candy but I got to thinking that they could be adapted into some kind of bar cookie form that would be equally if not even more delicious.

And so they can.

Ingredients

Crust Layer

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup cold butter, sliced into small cubes
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 t vanilla

Brownie Layer

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 6 T sweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 (4-ounce) bar semisweet chocolate

Caramel Layer

  •  2 cups sugar
  • 9 T warm water
  • 3 T corn syrup
  • 3 T butter, cold
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ½ t salt

Topping (Optional – but some of your choices are below.  I went with the chips because I had them. but there’s a lot going on here already so you can absolutely choose to go topping-free)

  • 1 cup pretzels
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Any combination of the above (or other stuff) equaling a cup

Directions

Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure there’s enough over the sides so you can lift it out later. Spray with non-stick spray and set it aside.

Ok, crust first.  In a large bowl put the flour, butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix with your hand mixer until the mixture is crumbly – you don’t want it to be fully mixed like most batter.  You may want to get in there with your hands and ditch the hand mixer – see how it goes.  Measure out 1/3 cup of the crust mixture and set that aside.  Press the rest of it into the bottom of the baking pan.

thumbnail_IMG_9964thumbnail_IMG_9966Bake the crust at 350 for about 15 minutes, until it starts to get lightly brown.  Take it out of the oven and let it start to cool on a wire rack.

While the crust is cooling we can start the brownie layer.  In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Next, add the butter, eggs and vanilla and mix that well until it’s smooth.  Take the chocolate bar and chop it into little pieces and stir that in (use a spoon not your hand mixer – you want to leave the chunks in there.

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Spread the brownie mixture over the cooling crust and put it back into the 350 oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick put into the center of the brownie comes out dry (no wet batter).

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While the pan is in the oven you can make the caramel.

Pour the sugar into a saucepan and put it on the stove (don’t turn the stove on yet).  Pour the water and then the corn syrup directly on top of the sugar and gently mix with a wooden spoon so the sugar is coated.  Turn the burner onto a medium-high heat and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is a nice amber color – then take it off the heat.thumbnail_IMG_9980

Add in the butter and stir until it melts completely.

Warm the heavy cream slightly in the microwave, maybe 20-25 seconds.  Basically, you don’t want to add cold liquid to the warm mixture already in the saucepan.  Once it’s warmed, pour the cream into the saucepan, followed by the vanilla and the salt.  Stir well until everything is well-combined.

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Set aside 1/3 cut of the caramel and pour the rest over the brownie.

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IF you want to do a topping, add it here, and then top it with the remaining 1/3 cup of crust mixture.  Put it back into the 350 oven for 5 more minutes (don’t worry, the topping will not be fully brown).

Place the pan on a wire rack and let it cool completely.  Once it’s cooled, use the excess foil to lift the bars from the pan and drizzle the remaining 1/3 cup of caramel.

Cut into bars (probably small ones – this one’s kinda rich), and serve!

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