Double Chocolate Caramel Brownies

double chocolate espresso brownies | apt. 2b baking co.
double chocolate espresso brownies | apt. 2b baking co.
double chocolate espresso brownies | apt. 2b baking co.

My best friend's family in Seattle has a cookie swap every year that even I used to look forward to because I knew that for the weeks leading up to Christmas, their freezer would be chock-full of all the cookies I could dream of - cranberry bliss bars, gingerbread men, shortbread, peanut butter buckeyes, etc. – all the hits, all the classics. 

I have attended a couple of cookie swaps myself this year, and I am so happy that the tradition of gathering to share treats is still alive and well, even in New York City. It is such a fun and low-key way to gather around the holidays, and everyone gets to go home with an exciting variety of goodies they may not have made otherwise. Now I have my own freezer full of cookies, which I have learned is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing - if you come over to my place for the next couple of weeks, you are sure to be served some excellent cookies. Curse - cookies for every meal = very tight pants...I have one more swap on my calendar this season, and I am going to switch up my usual offering for these decadent brownies. I’ll package up the caramel sauce in cute little jars so people can drizzle at their own leisure.


This post was created in partnership with Reynolds Kitchens. For more holiday fun and recipes, check out their Endless Table here

 

Double Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Makes 16-24 brownies

These brownies are of the rich and fudge variety, dense and super chocolaty. Since it is the holidays, I added something a little extra in the form of espresso spiked caramel sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream to one of these and you have a ridiculously good treat, or combine all three for a seriously killer brownie sundae. Bonus points if you warm up the brownies before topping them with cold ice cream and warm caramel sauce. They keep in the freezer (un-sauced) well wrapped in plastic wrap or foil for about a month, coincidentally, they also taste great frozen.

Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (not chips)

Espresso Caramel

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan with Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil, making sure there is a bit of overhang on all sides. Lightly butter the foil.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl set over a double boiler. Stir the mixture occasionally until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at time, then add in the vanilla. Fold in the flour until just combined, then fold in the chopped chocolate.

Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached 25-30 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan, then use the foil as handles to lift the brownies out of the pan.

Make the caramel sauce: Combine the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water, along with the butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar melts and turns deep amber in color. Remove the pan from the heat then whisk in the cream, instant espresso, and vanilla extract. Let the sauce cool to room temperature then drizzle over the brownies just before serving. 

Nibby Bittersweet Brownies

Nibby Bittersweet Brownies

I never know what to say when people ask about my favorite thing to bake. I usually just spout out the first thing that comes to mind because the truth is, I don't have an answer, I love it all. I enjoy the time, technique and concentration it takes to put together a layer cake or multi component dessert, but I also love how easy it is to throw together a batch of cookies or a pan of brownies. Especially these brownies that have caused men and women all over the country to declare them the best ever. I'm not one for hyperbole, but I can say that I've baked a lot of brownies and these certainly are my brownie ideal. They are dark and fudgy with a crackly top and a little crunch from the cacao nibs and they ship really, really well if you have some far away friends in need of a pick me up. Have a great weekend you guys!

Nibby Bittersweet Brownies

adapted from Alice Medrich

8oz chopped bittersweet chocolate

3oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1c sugar

3 eggs

1t vanilla extract

heaping 1/4t salt

1.75 oz (1/3c plus 1T) flour

1/4c cacao nibs (optional)

1/2t flaky salt to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º and line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with foil and grease lightly

1. Put the chopped chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted.

2. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until the mixture is lighter in color, about 3min.

3. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine, then fold in the flour and 2T of the cacao nibs. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining 2T of cacao nibs and flaky salt if desired. Slide into the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean, 25-30min. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

p.s. I love eating these brownies cold, straight from the fridge.

p.p.s. Thank you so much for the enthusiastic response to my Ombre Cake, in just 2 days it is already the most popular post on the blog, by a long shot.