Salted Caramel Brownies

It seems fitting that the first recipe I share with you is a brownie one, seeing as brownies are my absolute favourite thing to eat and to bake. I’ve been meaning to make salted caramel brownies for a long time, and it seemed that a girls’ night in with my friends was the perfect opportunity to try them.

It took me a while to make a recipe I liked; too many use only cocoa powder with no chocolate, or call for proportions of sugar and flour that I know would make the brownie too dry and cakey for my taste. This one, I think, is just right. The surface is crisp and crackled (as it should be), and the brownie itself is indulgently fudgy, yet just firm enough to hold the salty-bitter caramel that lay within. 

Many people seem to be afraid of making their own caramel, but it is not at all as difficult as it is made out to be. All you need to remember is to be wary of the very hot sugar and, the golden rule; never stir, swirl. Of course, if you are desperate for express decadence, you can simply substitute the salted caramel with a tin of Carnation caramel or jar of dulce de leche (but do add a sprinkle of salt if it isn’t already salted).

 

Here’s how to make them:

Salted Caramel Brownies

Cuts into 12 large brownies or 16 smaller ones.

For the salted caramel:

  • 150g granulated sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 125ml double cream
  • 10g salted butter, softened

For the brownies:

  • 300g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids)
  • 150g unsalted butter or margarine
  • 180g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (make sure that you use real cocoa powder rather than hot chocolate powder: I use Green & Blacks cocoa)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 220g soft light brown sugar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/180C Fan/Gas 5. Line a 32x23cm/13x9in tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. For the caramel, put the granulated sugar in a saucepan and melt over medium heat until deep golden-brown in colour – you will need to watch the sugar like a hawk to ensure it doesn’t burn, as this can happen in a matter of seconds (Don’t stir the sugar as it encourages sugar crystals to form; instead swirl the pan to encourage the melting process).
  3. Remove from the heat and carefully add half the cream and whisk furiously (caution: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully). The mixture will bubble up violently – once the mixture has settled, add the remaining cream and butter and whisk until smooth, then add the salt. If the mixture is lumpy, warm it over a low heat and stir until smooth. Pour into a jug to cool a little.
  4. For the brownies, melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with about 4cm of boiling water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, put the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a bowl and stir carefully to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
  6. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until thick and pale. Whisk in the chocolate, then fold in the flour mixture until just combined.
  7. Pour half the batter into the tin and smooth the surface using a spatula. Add a thin layer of the caramel, making sure to leave the edges clean. Add the remaining batter and gently level the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they have a shiny skin/crust and some cracks, and are relatively firm to the touch. It’s best to take them out too soon rather than too late (remember they will continue cooking once they are out of the oven). Allow to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares.

Variations:

Try sprinkling a handful of broken pecans over the caramel layer before adding the second half of the brownie mixture. Alternatively, sprinkle the pecans on top of the brownies before baking.

Restaurant Review: Honest Burger

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The Honest Burger. I really love the metal, blue-rimmed plates.

I know this is a bold (and potentially controversial) statement, but a burger from Honest Burger will be the best burger that you have ever eaten. Let me tell you about them.

Amongst the handful of popular London burger chain restaurants (GBK, Five Guys, Byron, Shake Shack, Patty & Bun etc.) Honest is streaks ahead of the others on so many levels. There are 9 branches in London, but I usually go to the Soho one. Firstly, the service is outstanding; not only was it fast and efficient, but the waiters were incredibly friendly. The menu itself, whilst offering a sufficient spectrum of choice, is unfussy and pithy, and let’s face it; a burger should be simple. If I’m going to a burger restaurant I’m most likely to be feeling lethargic and hungry, which means that having to choose the burger meat, bread-type, variety of chips and any additional (expensive) fillings is the last thing I feel like doing. At Honest, you virtually only have to utter a single word and your burger is ordered, since every element is included under one title – including chips. I always order the classic Honest burger – beef, red onion relish, bacon, cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce, served with my favourite chips in the world (a crisp, skins-on affair, seasoned with rosemary salt. Divine.). The portion of chips was generous (in a good way), unlike those miniature, chichi buckets of ‘fries’ that would probably satisfy the appetite of a newborn child  (shoutout to Byron). It’s so refreshing to see the chips served alongside the burger and not offered as a side order – clearly a ploy to make money, I don’t have one friend who would order a burger without chips anyway, and if they did, I don’t think I’d really want them to be my friend after all.

When I first came to Honest I thought the burger might be a little acidic with both the red onion relish and pickled cucumber, but I was so wrong. The proportions of each component were utterly perfect; the smoky bacon was heavenly with the matured cheddar and semi-sweet sharpness of the pickles, and there was just enough lettuce to add a little crunch and elude the diner that they were consuming some level of nutritional goodness within that warm brioche bun.

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The burger itself is the thing that makes all the difference. I have never had a more juicy or flavourful burger patty – I seem to have become accustomed to the chokingly dry lump of greyish meat that disguises itself as a burger and plagues today’s society. The meal cost me £10, which I think is outstanding value considering the large portion and high level of deliciousness. Moreover, Honest is the only Burger restaurant that I have ever been to that has catered for coeliacs, and I was treated to a gluten-free bread bun and totally GF chips. Winning.

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Another bonus was the drinks menu. This homemade lemonade was delicious and I adored the Mason jar glass and straw.

There are no puddings offered, which would usually be a major problem for me, as my sweet tooth knows no bounds. However, since my burger was the epitome of satisfaction, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Borough Market

Yesterday my sister took me to Borough Market which is somewhere I’ve been wanting to go for ages. Being a major foodie, the market was such a dream. Unfortunately, since it was a Monday, there were inevitably less stalls set up, but there was nevertheless a great selection of food to buy.

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As soon as we arrived we made a beeline for the Bread Ahead stall, which my sister   talks about all the time on account of their doughnuts. She swears that they are the best doughnuts that she has ever eaten, and having chosen the salted caramel honeycomb one last time, she bought the vanilla, which was generously stuffed with thick, creamy vanilla custard. The blueberry doughnut was the choice of my brother, who, in a typically male style, practically inhaled the treat and grunted that it was ‘alright’ – apparently the blueberry jam was ‘strange but not unpleasant’. Mixed reviews!

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The first thing I bought was this cup of cherries – quite boring but I just really like cherries.

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One thing I really liked was the abundance of delicatessen stands – French, Spanish, Italian. Hundreds of different types of cheese were being sold; they tended to be quite expensive, but my sister and I unashamedly hunted down and tasted all of the free samples, which were really tasty.

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Without doubt my favourite thing about the market was the street food. There was such a wide choice of cuisines from all around the world but in the end I chose to try Ethiopian food because it was a totally new concept to me. The photo shows yellow split bean stew, red lentil stews and spinach stew (with rice underneath). It was absolutely delicious – very fragrant and quite spicy. It was sort of like a mixture between Moroccan and Indian food.

The last thing I bought at the market was some fudge, which was extravagantly priced but suitably delicious. I chose salted caramel and dark chocolate swirl,and my brother made me buy some ginger fudge as well. I couldn’t take any pictures of it because my mum and sister ate it all to themselves…

Rose xo