Labor Day is such a two-edged sword! I’m so grateful for a day off to catch up on laundry and dishes. It’s so nice to be able to cook when I want to and take my time doing it. The only downside is that today has felt like Saturday all day long, so it feels like tomorrow should be Sunday! But tomorrow, we’ll be back to the work routine. And how can I complain about that? I’m blessed to have a great job that I love!
When we were talking about what we would cook today, Michael and I both had visions of smoking large slabs of meat and making baked beans and potato salad. The kids just wanted one thing: brownies.
I don’t make brownies often because – well, because we eat them. The whole pan in a single day. So unless I have somewhere to take some of them, I don’t make them.
These brownies are actually something that Christopher made last Christmas (Yes, I said “Christopher.” I was recently admonished for calling my children The Boy and The Redhead. The wise person who did the admonishing reminded me that, although I did grow up in a very rural area (read as “redneck”), I should use my children’s actual names. I originally began calling them The Boy and The Redhead because they didn’t want their real names on the blog. They have both since agreed that I can use their real names.).
Anyway, Christopher made these last Christmas and they were a huge hit! He and I came up with a recipe that we think is pretty darn perfect. Chewy, chocolaty, moist. Perfect.
I decided to up the yum factor by topping the brownies with a decadent salted caramel sauce. The combination is killer! Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients in the brownies. The simplicity of the caramel sauce makes up for it!
The Best Chewy Brownies
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa
- 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder
- 1/2 cup of boiling water
- 1/2 cup of chocolate hazelnut spread
- 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Whisk together the cocoa, espresso powder, hazelnut spread, and boiling water in a large bowl. When hazelnut spread has melted, whisk in the melted butter and vegetable oil. Stir until cooled to lukewarm. Add the vanilla and eggs and whisk until completely combined. Add the salt and baking soda to the liquid mixture, whisking until incorporated. Add the sugar and stir. Add the flour and stir just until all is combined and smooth. Pour the batter into the baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes. My kitchen smelled like someone had sprayed chocolate perfume in it! Heaven! Allow to cool completely before cutting.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 6 tablespoons of salted butter, cut into six pieces
- 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. After about 10 minutes (just when you start to wonder if you’re doing something wrong), the sugar will begin to form clumps. Keep stirring. Within a few minutes, the sugar will melt completely and turn into a beautiful amber-colored syrup. Keep stirring and, for God’s sake, do NOT give in to the temptation to stick your finger in the melted sugar or lick the spoon. You will be badly burned! As soon as the sugar is completely melted, add the butter all at once and stir for 2-3 minutes until it is melted. The mixture may sputter a little bit. It takes a few minutes for the sugar and butter to decide to be friends. When the butter is melted, slowly add the whipping cream. The hot sugar does not like the cold cream and it may spit at you because you’re the one who added it. It may even seem to clump a little. Keep stirring and it will smooth out. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the salt. Don’t taste it yet! Let the mixture cool. It will become very thick. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Microwave for a few minutes before drizzling over brownies, cheesecake, fingers, etc. Even when melted, it will coat a spoon beautifully!
Well Duh #1: You can add a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to the brownie batter before baking. I just didn’t have any this time!
Well Duh #2: This recipe makes about 2 dozen 2-inch brownies. I cut mine a little bigger because my family would just laugh at a 2-inch brownie.
I drizzled the sauce over the brownies and it was fantastic! I took pictures and then I sat on the patio, listening to the rumbles of a thunderstorm rolling in and I ate both brownies before going inside and letting the rest of the family know that they were ready. I deserved it.
If you are a chocolate-loving person, you have to try these brownies! They are the best!