Sweet & Salty Brownies

Have you heard of Baked?  The bakery in New York and South Carolina?  Maybe you've heard of the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook.  Maybe just maybe, if you saw pumpkin whoopie pies on Martha Stewart or on a blog, like here, chances are the recipe was a version from the guys of Baked.

Baked's owners, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, have a brand new, beautiful cookbook out now, called Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.  I was lucky enough to be given a copy to drool over review. {Maybe you heard the squealing when I opened the box.}

The book itself is gorgeous, with lots of photos and original takes on classic recipes.  A sampling: Chocolate Mint Thumbprints, Peaches and Dream Pie, Pecan Tassies, Maple Cupcakes and Mississippi Mud Pie.

So far, we've tried Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins *faints* and these Sweet & Salty Brownies.

If you like the sweet and salty combo, prepare yourselves.  This is a fudgy, rich, chocolatey, perfectly crackly-topped brownie with a layer of salted caramel sauce sprinkled with coarse sugar and salt.  Ready for the recipe?

Sweet & Salty Brownie
{from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented}

1 c. sugar
2 TBSP light corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp fleur de sel *(see note)
1/4 c. sour cream

1 and 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 TBSP dark cocoa powder
11 oz. quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla

1 and 1/2 tsp fleur de sel *(see note)
1 tsp coarse sugar

Make the Caramel:
In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 c. water, stirring together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan.  Cook over high heat, until a thermometer reads 350 degrees and is dark amber in color.
{Working with a thermometer always makes me a little nervous. And, please pardon the Dickey's BBQ cup in the background.}

Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream (it will bubble up).  Then add the fleur de sel.  Whisk in the sour cream.  Set aside to cool.

Make the Brownie:
Preheat oven to 350.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13" pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water.
{Doesn't this sight just make you happy?}

Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water.  Whisk in both sugars until completely combined.  Removed bowl from pan.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.  Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined.  Add the vanilla and stir until incorporated.  Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Add the flour mixture.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until there is just a trace of the flour mixture remaining.

Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Drizzle and 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce (not all of it) over the batter, trying to stay away from the edges. Gently spread the caramel sauce evenly.  In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the remaining batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently over the caramel.

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and the coarse sugar.

Cool completely before serving.  (We thought these were even better the NEXT day.)

*Note: I had a tiny bit of fleur de sel in my pantry from the bulk section of a gourmet store. MY grocery store wanted *gulp* $14.95 for a small jar. Sooo, I mixed my remaining 1/2 tsp with enough freshly ground sea salt to make up the difference. Seemed to work just fine. :)

Now...what to make from Baked next?!?
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