There were 2 major factors that came into play when I decided to make these brownies:
1. The heat wave that we’ve been experiencing around here finally broke and our house dipped below 85 degrees, so naturally I decided to heat it back up by baking.
2. Since we’re hoping to move in the near future, Justin and I have issued a self-imposed challenge to eat all of the food in our house so that nothing will go to waste and so that we can save precious moving box space for more important things, like Brody’s 486 bones and tennis balls.
With that second item in mind, and considering we ate the last our our fuit popsicles this past weekend and were seriously low on desserts, I wanted to make something sweet that would use up a few items that we had lying around. I knew that we had some pretzels left over from a cuise on my brother’s boat over the weekend and I also remembered that we still had this little jar of magic left over from an impulse buy in the ice cream aisle:
If you see it, buy it. You can thank me later.
I used the same brownie recipe that I’ve used in the past (a light brownie recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook); the brownies are rich and dense and delicious, and you would never guess that the whole recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of butter. From there, I just “tiled” the brownie batter with the pretzels…
…and then heated up the sauce in the microwave and drizzled it over top of the pretzels.
I underbaked them by a few minutes to yield a fudgier brownie, and then popped them in the fridge once they cooled (baking pan and all) for a few hours to make them easier to cut.
Now this isn’t a groundbreaking recipe – I just layered some pretzels on a tried-and-true brownie recipe and then slapped some pre-made sauce on top. But don’t let that take away from their deliciousness. And these are quick and easy additions to a standard brownie that takes a normal dessert to the next level. Some day I want to try to make my own salted caramel sauce since it’s pretty much my favorite thing out there, but this stuff works in a pinch – or if you’re trying to use up some leftovers.
Bottom line: they’re good. Real good.
Sea Salted Caramel & Pretzel Brownies
makes: 16 brownies / prep time: 10 minutes / bake time: 17-20 minutes
Light Brownie recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
(the original recipe is below, but I doubled it for these brownies)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- a few handfulls of mini salted pretzels
- salted caramel sauce
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with non-stick baking spray.
Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa, water, vanilla and espresso powder together and set aside.
Microwave the butter and chocolate together in a microwave-safe bowl until melted, about 1 minute, stirring often. Whisk in the sugar and salt until completely incorporated. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until combined and then whisk in the egg. Stir in the flour mixture until no streaks remain (do not overmix).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Warm the caramel sauce in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until runny. “Tile” the batter with the pretzels and drizzle the sauce over top.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking (do not overbake). Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour, and then refrigerate the brownies (while still in the pan) for about an hour before cutting.