So…it was my friend's birthday last week and our group of friends decided that we were going to do something special to celebrate. Us being us meant that it was a little spontaneous and last minute, but I still this compulsion to make sure I turned up with some sort of cake. I mean, it’s a birthday and what is a birthday without cake?
I actually love late night baking, though. Trying to do things quietly by the glow of the oven light, whilst it is dark outside and everyone is dozing. I do have work at 7 tomorrow, so didn’t want to make anything wildly extravagant, but at the same time, it is for a birthday so whatever I baked needed to be smile worthy and have the ability to make the birthday dude feel special. I do try to ask around for people’s favourite bakes for this precise reason – I like to know what I can fall back on in times of baking emergencies. However, I seem to have done a lot of bake-talk with Matt and I’m not sure if it’s all the info or the tiredness setting in, but I can’t quite recall. I do know he likes fresh baked goods, chocolatey things and caramel – so I’ve hedged my bets with salted caramel birthday brownies. Rich, sticky and perfect for candles I hope these will be a bit of an indulgent birthday treat.
The recipe for this is actually super simple, so stick your dressing gown on and get the brownie pan out.
200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
125g chocolate with 70% cocoa solids
75g chocolate with 50% cocoa solids
397g can of Carnation Caramel
1tsp flaky sea salt, and a little extra
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
130g plain flour
50g dark cocoa powder
Like always, start by preheating the oven. 180/160fan/gas 4 will do the trick. Line a 23cm brownie pan, too.
Over simmering water melt the chocolate and the butter, stirring until smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl mix 125g of the caramel with the sea salt, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed.
Beat the eggs, sugar and rest of the caramel in a bowl until mixed evenly. If you are using a free standing mixer, use the paddle attachment for this part of the process.
Take your cooled chocolate and pour that into the caramel mixture. Now, WHISK together. If you are using a free stand mixer, switch to the whisk attachment, not the paddle. If you are doing it by hand, or with an electric hand mixer, make sure you keep going with this part of the process until the batter is nice and airy. It should be like a lovely, sticky chocolatey cloud *sigh*
Combine the flour and cocoa powder with a good pinch of salt and sieve over the chocolate mix. With a metal spoon fold in the dry ingredients until no traces remain. You can very briefly beat the dry ingredients in here, but be careful not to overdo it.
You will now have your lovely chocolatey mixture and your salty caramel ready for assembly!
Grab your lined pan and dollop in half the chocolate mixture. Smooth it out into the corners with a spatula making sure it’s level.
Take your caramel and dot teaspoonfuls over the top of the chocolate mixture. You want a layer of caramel in the middle of the brownie, so try and dot 16 blobs evenly.
Now top this with the remaining chocolate mix and spread evenly. Try not to press too firmly as it will disturb the caramel underneath.
With the rest of the caramel draw 5 lines on top of the mixture, leaving an equal space between each one. Using a the handle of a teaspoon, a chopstick, or hell, a pencil, create a feathering effect on the top. To do this just drag the chopstick through the lines of caramel horizontally in one smooth streak.
Scatter a little more sea salt on top and then bake for 28-32mins. The brownies will be a little wobbly when you take them out. Let them firm up and get really fudgy before slicing – perfect made the night before a party.
Serve with candles (of course) and if you are being extra fancy at the party, a little dollop of ice cream. Laaaavely!