There's no better feeling in the world that making food that people love, for the people that you love. When my housemate Rosa bit into one of these toffee & sea salt brownies, the noises she made were frankly obscene - and it made every penny spent on ingredients & every minute spent washing up totally worth it. The other thing that makes it worth it, though, is obviously the brownies themselves.
Adapted from this Smitten Kitchen recipe, these brownies are unbelievably moreish & extremely grown up. If you know someone who isn't massively into sweet stuff & likes a savoury touch, these are ideal. Alternatively, if you know people who are chocolate fiends, these are also pretty great. Essentially, if you know people, feed them these. They'll be happy. Okay? Okay.
If you, like me, have never made toffee or caramel before this can be extremely daunting. The technical, science-y side of baking stuff is one I've always veered away from, but this is actually remarkably simple if you're paying attention. Make sure to read through the entire recipe first before you begin.
To make the toffee, you will need:
- Half a cup of granulated sugar.
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
- 1 heaped teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
- 3 tablespoons of double cream.
- 85 grams of plain or dark chocolate.
- 115 grams of unsalted butter.
- 1 cup of granulated sugar.
- 2 large eggs.
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- 1 heaped teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
- 2/3 cup (85 grams) of plain flour.
1. To make the toffee, begin by placing a piece of baking paper over a plate.
2. Over a medium-high heat & in a dry saucepan, melt your sugar. This should take about 3-5 minutes & it'll turn a dark coppery sort of colour.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, then stir in the double cream & sea salt and return to the heat. Keep stirring as it bubbles up excitedly. By this point it should start to smell amaaaazing. Keep stirring and heating until it's turned a few shades darker, then pour it out onto your paper covered plate.
4. Put this into the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until it's mostly solid.
4. After about 10 or so minutes, start work on your brownies. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees c. Then, begin by melting together your butter & chocolate over a pan of gently simmering water, until only a few unmelted pieces remain.
5. Take it off the heat and stir until completely melted together.
6. Whisk in the sugar.
7. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
8. Whisk in the vanilla & sea salt, then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula until combined.
9. By now, your toffee should be firm but still relatively squishy in the centre. Take it out of the freezer, and chop or pull it into bitesize piece. Mix most of it into the brownie batter, scattering the remaining pieces over the top.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until you can put a skewer in the centre and it comes out clean. Once finished, leave to cool.
Now, there's obviously something incredibly magical about warm brownies straight from the oven at the start of October - and there's really only one word for these brownies in that condition. That word is molten. The toffee melts and oozes out into the brownie batter (I know, what a disgusting sentence), making this one seriously decadent and indulgent treat. All the more so if you serve it with double cream as me and my housemates did in front of Great British Bake Off. It's... Yeah. It's really something.
That said, I think I actually preferred these brownies the next day, after they'd cooled overnight. The toffee rehardens so it's not quite so sickly, and the dense, fudgy flavour of the brownies becomes more prominent. The photo at the top of this post shows the next day brownie, & the photo at the bottom shows them having cooled down for about an hour or so from the oven. But I mean, this is obviously a win win situation, because there's just no bad way to eat these brownies - except to not eat them at all.