The trend of mixing sweet and savory flavors in candies, brownies, etc., is quite popular nowadays. One such example is sea salt caramels. These are basically a combination of smooth, sweet caramel, with crunchy salt crystals and bittersweet chocolate, that are packed as small pieces. A pinch of salt can actually enhance the sweetness of sugar, chocolate, or caramel, by creating an obvious contrast that makes a dessert with these ingredients, impossible to put down.
Sea Salt Caramels
- 1⅓ cups, heavy cream
- ½ cup, light corn syrup
- ⅓ cup, honey
- 2 cups, granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons, butter (cubed)
- 3 teaspoons, sea salt (such as fleur de sel)
- 1 lb bittersweet chocolate (melted)
- 1 teaspoon, vanilla extract
Take an 8-inch baking pan, line it with aluminum foil and then spritz it with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan, place the cream over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and honey, to the cream. Stir until it begins to boil. Keep wiping down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water, to keep sugar crystals from forming. Let it continue to cook, stirring occasionally until it reaches 257 ºF on a candy thermometer.
Remove the pan from the heat; add the butter, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of the sea salt, to it. Stir well. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking pan and allow it to set at room temperature, or until firm enough to cut. Once it has set, cut the caramel into small squares or strips with a chef's knife.
Pour the melted chocolate into a bowl. Dip the caramel chunks into the chocolate. Keep them on a baking sheet covered with foil, to set. While the chocolate layer is still wet, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each piece and allow them to set, properly.
Caramel Sea Salt Brownies
- 1 stick, unsalted butter
- 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- ¾ cup, unbleached flour
- ½ cup, caramel sauce (warmed)
- 2, large eggs
- ½ teaspoon, salt
- 1 cup, sugar
- 1 teaspoon, vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon, sea salt (preferably fleur de sel)
Preheat an oven to 350 ºF. Grease an 8x8 square pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment; grease again. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour with the salt. Over a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate; stir until they are fully combined and then remove the mix from the heat.
Using a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract together, until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Now, add the chocolate mixture to it and mix it up, until they are completely blended. Now, add the flour to this. Mix all the ingredients, well.
Pour half the batter into the pan and smoothen the top. Then, pour half the caramel sauce over the layer of the batter (do not mix it with a spoon), evenly. Now, pour the remaining batter over caramel; smoothen the top, again. The idea is to form alternative layers of the batter and caramel. Finally, drizzle the remaining caramel sauce on top, in one continuous zig-zag pattern. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Take the pan out and poke the mixture with a wooden toothpick. It should come out slightly sticky. If it does, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle sea salt over it. Allow it to cool down, completely. Now, cut it into squares or bars, and they'll be ready to be eaten.