If only someone had told me long ago how easy homemade caramel is to make (and how much better it tastes than the processed “replacements”), I would have made boatloads of this stuff by now.
I’m, by no means, a caramel expert. Ha. Far from it. But this was my first attempt at making caramel from scratch. Let’s just say it went rather well, at least according to my sweet tooth. It’s seriously so easy (but also liquid sugar, if that matters).
Every time I make dessert, I fight two mini wars.
The first pits me against myself. I really love baking. I also love eating baked goods and have a serious lack of willpower to avoid whatever is currently residing in my cabinet. Thus, making anything sweet inevitably sets me up for constant battles with my own healthy conscience. I believe the battle record is approximately…
Sweet Tooth ~ Infinity | Healthy Conscience ~ Zero
(But that’s just an estimate.)
The second mini war sets me up against M. I enjoy experimenting and trying new, fancier desserts. He prefers simple and routine desserts. He will always (literally, always) choose box brownies or chocolate chip pan cookies. When he’s really ready to mix things up, he asks me to add peanut butter M&Ms to the cookies.
Come to think of it, these are two of his mom’s go-to treats, so maybe the preference is more nostalgia and less a lack of sugary adventure. Something to ponder.
In any case, I’m baking, which means I get last call on what goes in the oven. These caramel brownies were a compromise on a day when I was feeling particularly generous (because usually I just make whatever the heck I feel like making). He got traditional brownies, and I got to try a new made-from-scratch brownie recipe with a touch of homemade caramel (which he could opt to avoid if he so chose).
For the record, he chose caramel, because… really?
- ¾ cup cocoa
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅔ cup melted butter, divided
- ½ cup boiling water
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1⅓ cups flour
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 oz. package chocolate chips
- Homemade caramel sauce (see recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine cocoa and baking soda. Add ⅓ cup of melted butter. Then add boiling water. Mix after each addition until well blended.
- Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter. Add flour, vanilla, and salt.
- Lastly, add the chocolate chips.
- Add to a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness.
- (Note: A toothpick won't come out clean when they are done. The chocolate chips remain melted within the brownies. The toothpick may have brownie crumbs or melted chocolate on it, but it shouldn't have what looks like raw brownie batter. It took me a few batches of overcooked brownies to get used to that result. Ha.)
- Makes a 9X13 pan
- After brownies have cooled, drizzle caramel sauce on top of the brownies to serve. Because we stored the caramel in the fridge, I melted the caramel in the microwave for about 5 seconds to soften slightly before drizzling.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 5 tbsp butter, in small chunks
- 1.5 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup of half and half OR 2 tbsp melted butter + enough whole milk to fill ½ cup with the melted butter and whole milk combined
- Note: Typically the recipe calls for ½ cup of half and half. I didn't have any on hand, so I substituted the melted butter + whole milk (equaling a total of ½ cup of liquid) to replace the half and half. It worked out just fine!
- Add all ingredients to a small to medium sized sauce pan. Stir the mixture on medium low / medium heat for 7 - 10 minutes, or until everything melts and the mixture starts to thicken a bit.
- Add the vanilla and stir for another minute or so.
- Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Then pour into a jar or heat resistant container and place in the fridge to cool completely.
- *Noted prep time includes about 10 minutes of preparation before cooking and about 50 minutes or so to cool in the fridge after cooking.