Chocolate Caramel Brownies

1 Sep

Caramel and chocolate—a close second to peanut butter and chocolate!

I meant to post this last weekend, but it was a crazy few days filled with boring Quickbooks data entry, a visit to an awesome vertical farm in Laguna Canyon, drinks with my parents, two kids’ parties, a run around Lido Island and a stop at the Newport Beach farmer’s market.

You might be wondering how my paleo-style diet’s going, seeing as how these brownies are not on the menu at all, and I’m happy to say it’s going well. I made the brownies for the Laguna Beach Public Works Department, as they rescued my iPhone from certain death in a storm drain. Yes, I managed to drop my iPhone during a run which, combined with some unfortunate timing, bounced off my foot and straight down a storm drain.

Melting the caramel from the boiled can of evaporated milk.

But they found it, and I was happily reunited with my mobile device, after a thorough bath in Purcell. My Pater, who had suggested checking with the city in the first place, mentioned that perhaps I should bake them some cookies in thanks. It should be noted that the Laguna Beach city workers are not allowed to take gifts from locals, no matter how delicious they may be.

That meant that the people who share my serviced office building and my family were treated to some seriously decadent brownies. The Husband warns that they should not be eaten without a glass of cold milk at the ready. I, of course, cannot confirm or deny this, as I’ve been a complete angel for the last 20 days.

My sugar didn’t melt all the way, but the brownies turned out great anyway.

The most shocking thing of the last 20 days (of which there will be just 10 more) is that I’ve been teetotal. Yes, dear readers, this might shock you most of all. More than grain-free, soy-free, bean-free, lentil-free and dairy-free, I’ve been off sugar and alcohol and any processed food for these past few weeks. And let’s be honest here: Most of my sugar intake comes from alcohol. And I miss it!

No day did I miss it more than last Sunday when I attended two kids’ parties. I want to say right now that it wasn’t the kids that made me want to drink—surprisingly, in my mind. The first was delightful—getting to meet one of my best friends’ daughter for the first time, and she is adorable and quite serious, in a wonderful way. I was immediately popular with her when I broke out the $2 Target purple and pink bubble wand. Yes, I know how to get the kids to love me!

Piling on the caramel. Okay, yes, it was really hard not to eat these brownies.

It was more the backyard party atmosphere and the hot day that made me feel like I was being left out. And, let’s face it, there’s some people on this planet who are just more interesting to talk to after you’ve had a drink. I’d like to point out right now, for all my friends and family reading this, you are NOT included in this list of people of whom I speak.

But let’s get back to the food here. I mixed up a few recipes to get this, as the Caramel Turtle Brownies we used to make when I was a kid called for German chocolate cake mix. That, my friends, is not home made. So I found a great brownie recipe, made some caramel and we were off.

Make sure to cut these in fairly small pieces, as they are truly, madly, deeply rich. Or so The Husband says.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour


1 can evaporated milk
2 Tbs butter


2/3 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (or your favorite nut)

The first thing to do is peel the label off the evaporated milk, ignoring the warning to not boil the can, as that’s exactly what you’re going to do. Place the can in a large pot and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Boil it for two and a half hours.

DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT let the water level get to the point where the can is not fully submerged. IT WILL BLOW UP. And nobody wants to A) clean up a bunch of sticky caramel from their kitchen ceiling and all their cabinets or B) get covered in burning hot napalm-like caramel and be horribly scarred for life.

It’s best to do this the night before so it’s cooled before you start this process. Open the can to find (magically!) delicious, rich caramel. Put this in a pan and heat it slowly with the butter so that it’s nice and smooth and thick, but pourable.

Now make the brownies: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Chocolate chips give the brownies a nice texture in the middle, as do the nuts.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the lined pan. Place in the oven and bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the caramel carefully over the brownie mix, spreading as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over, if using (and I really recommend at least the chocolate chips), and then cover with the rest of the brownie batter.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Et voilá! Delicious, rich brownies.


29 Responses to “Chocolate Caramel Brownies”

  1. Thoughts in Little Boxes September 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Oh my god I think my taste buds just wept. That sounds and looks amazing! Knowing my luck and my lack of clock watching I would blow the whole kitchen up – hmmmm.

    Being a teetotal can be hard. I didn’t drink for 10 months when I was ill and at times I just wanted to grab the closest bottle of white wine and neck it. But not too much longer to go! And it will taste so much better.

    • tinykitchenstories September 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

      Funny, the caramel trick was one I learned in the UK for Banoffee Pie! It can be a bit nervewracking, but it’s so worth it.
      And thanks for the sympathy, although I do feel pathetic for finding out what an addict I am for just such a short period of time. Sigh. Roll on Sept 12!! 🙂

  2. jerikoegel September 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Lucky Public Works people! Glad you got your phone back, and soon will get your Iphone 5!

  3. Tracey Sinclair September 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    They look SO tasty…

    • tinykitchenstories September 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Thanks, my dear. Would love to make you some, sans nuts, of course! 🙂

  4. An Unrefined Vegan September 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Oh my gosh, what strength you have! Each photo of those brownies – as they acquired layer after delicious layer – got better and better. Amazing story about your cell phone. I must say I would’ve given it up for dead. Too bad your helpers couldn’t accept such yummy thanks!

    • tinykitchenstories September 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      I know–I wish I’d have just found one of the guys in a Public Works truck and handed them straight over. I’m sure he wouldn’t have refused! And it was really hard to resist those brownies…I think I get extra points for that! Points for what, I’m not sure… 😉

  5. pamela smith September 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    So funny. I just read your brownie recipe and then went on Pinterest and saw a post that you can put the canned milk covered with water in a crockpot on low for 8 hours.

  6. veggiewhatnow September 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    What an amazing story! Too bad they couldn’t enjoy the brownies, they look scrumptious! 🙂

  7. girlinafoodfrenzy September 2, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    Caramel & chocolate! It’s like a stampede for my taste buds. I’m amazed at your virtuous example here and that you can bake a full batch of brownies without even tasting a single one, incredible. I’m also having bakers remorse…as in I haven’t baked anything today! 😉

    • tinykitchenstories September 2, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      Take some deep breaths, darling! You’ll get through it! 🙂

  8. debbie rider September 2, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    I had no idea that’s how one makes caramel! I’m going to try this recipe once I get back to DC. It all sounds wonderful!

    • tinykitchenstories September 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      It’s the easy way to make it without having to worry about burning butter and sugar on the stovetop. 🙂 I hope you both like them! x

  9. Meenakshi September 4, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    The only thing better than a brwnie loaded with chocolate is a brownie with chocolate and caramel! I’ve been on a brownie baking spree lately, and was beginning to tire of my old recipe, now I shall try this! Hope your better after that drain mishap.

    • tinykitchenstories September 4, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      I hope you like the brownies! I had rave reviews, and I’m hoping you will too. And I’m much better now I’m reunited with my iPhone. Cheers! 🙂

  10. Mama's Gotta Bake September 4, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    I’ll have to google what a paleo diet is. Several of my friends are doing it. Do you do it to lose weight, or that it’s just good for you. Either way, I don’t think I could give up the brownies!

    • tinykitchenstories September 4, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      The Paleo diet is mainly for health reasons–grains, soy, beans, corn and dairy don’t agree with me. But I am losing weight, so that’s a nice side effect that I’m enjoying! I’m going to start experimenting with coconut and buckwheat flours to see what treats I can create…wish me luck! 🙂

  11. WordsFallFromMyEyes September 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Yes it makes me hungry!! I’m so not a great cook, oh sigh…

    But there’s a vegetarian at work & we talk about recipes. I’ve got to say, I do like.

    Have never heard of the Paleo diet. Thanks for explaining it above. I’m needing to lose weight. I weighed myself last weekend (& put it in my video blog – the VodkaWas one) – now I now to ACTUALLY lose weight! Thanks for the insight. Mercy, coconut – mmmmm.


    • tinykitchenstories September 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Oh geez, I’m missing my vodka. I love the name of that blog! Vodka is definitely partially to blame for my weight gain, along with eating too much of the wrong things. I try to be good…but temptation, you know?

      Luckily for me (I guess?) my body has a painful way of telling me to stop eating dairy and a few other things. This is what I’ve committed to for 30 days:

      It’s not easy, I tell you, but the weight loss has been noticeable, and I figured a 30 day investment in my health was worth it, right?
      That said, make the brownies first! 😉

      Thanks for the comment–and good luck!

  12. {Main St. Cuisine} September 4, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    I have to stop looking at posts (and delicious photos) like these late in the evening! Craving brownies and caramel right now. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us!

    • tinykitchenstories September 5, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m a little conflicted–I’m sorry I made you crave them, but happy you crave them too! I hope you make them and enjoy every bite. 🙂

  13. eof737 September 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    You make it look so easy. 🙂

    • tinykitchenstories September 7, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      What a lovely compliment! They are easier to make than to resist… 😉

  14. Panama September 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully add the cream. When the bubbling subsides, stir in the butter. Insert a candy thermometer and cook over moderately high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the caramel reaches 240°, about 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and stir in the salt.

  15. livliveslife September 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I love how easy caramel is! These look amazing!!

    • tinykitchenstories September 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      Thank you, Liv! I appreciate your comment and yes, who knew caramel was such an easy treat to make? I cooked up two cans to keep some in the freezer on hand for caramel sundae sauce…

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