Brownies and Caramel

I have been looking for an excuse to make these awesome brownies again.  I have not found one yet, and I may just give in here soon and make them for no reason at all other than for the fact that they are delicious.  And this is coming from a non-chocolate-lover.  That should say something.  It's really the salted vanilla bean caramel sauce that sets them apart.  It's soooo good.   

Caramel is always best homemade.  And although it can be kinda dangerous to make, especially if you are clumsy and burn yourself easily (note to self: always wear long sleeves while making caramel.  I don't know how long it will take me to learn this), it only takes 2 ingredients that you already have on hand is very simple to make.  This caramel sauce is still super easy to make, but has a few more ingredients than just plain caramel. 

Vanilla beans=super expensive.  I'm talking $8.00 for 2 bean pods!  That just seems outrageous.  But I guess when you think about how far one pod can go (for example:  One pod = one mason jar full of this awesome caramel sauce), it makes it seem a little better, but not completely.  And the taste that come from the beans knocks vanilla extract out.of.the.water. 

So this caramel sauce...First I dug out all the beans from the pod, (slice the pod in half, scrape out the beans with the dull edge of the knife) and put them in a pot, along with cream, butter and salt-boiled all that.  Then I put sugar, cornstarch and water into another pot, and watched as it magically turned into caramel.  This is the part where the burns come in.  I added the cream mixture to the caramel.  Bubbles and boils and mini-explosions everywhere.  It was awesome.  And hot.  

And this is what it all turned into!  Soooo yummy. 

So onto the brownies.  Made a normal brownie batter I suppose...used some semi-sweet and some unsweet bakers chocolate together with some sugar, eggs and butter.  Poured it all into a pan...

Swirled it with the delicious caramel, top with pecans, then bake...

And the best brownies ever will come out of the oven.  Promise. 

Oh they're so good.  I'm currently trying to think of the next time I have free to run to the grocery to get ingredients to make these again!  And if you want a batch, let me know, I will be glad to make them for you!

Or if you just want to make them yourself, here is the recipe.

Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from TheFoodieBride

Caramel Sauce: 
1 vanilla bean pod
1 cup heavy cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp salt (big particle salt works best, like fleur de sel or sea salt)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

slit the vanilla pod down the middle longways, leaving about 1/2 inch on each end.  Scrape the inside of the pod with the knife to get out all the beans, and put them all in a pot (pods as well).  Add the cream, butter and salt and heat until boiling.  turn off the heat and set aside.

In another pot, put the sugar, water and corn syrup.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Boil while swirling the pan-not stirring.  Do this until mixture turns golden caramel colored.

Remove the pods from the cream mixture, and add the cream mixture to the caramel.  Simmer and stir for 3 minutes (be careful pouring this stuff into the caramel, it bubbles like crazy!), until it is thickened a bit.  Pour into a heat-safe dish or bowl and let it cool.  Pour into whatever you would like to store it in (I used mason jars) and store in the fridge.  Next time you want to use the sauce, just warm it up on the stove. 

For the Brownies:

1 1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts, if you prefer), toasted and chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
4 oz unsweet chocolate
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil.  Grease the foil.  Combine the butter and chocolates in a pan.  Heat on med-lo until melted together and smooth.  Transfer the chocolate/butter mixture to a mixing bowl.  Add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  Whisk until combined and smooth.  Whisk in the flour and salt. 

Pour the batter into the foil-lined pan.  Pour a generous amount of the salted vanilla caramel sauce over the brownie mixture, and swirl it in with a knife.  sprinkle with pecans.  Bake for 30-40 mins, until brownies are set.  Let cool completely before eating. 

Try not to eat all of them.  Your husband might be a little upset.  Oops.

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