these caramel swirl brownies are one of those magical recipes that *seem* a lot more complicated to make than they are. the brownies come together easily and the caramel swirl is actually just the caramel apple dip that is so ubiquitous on grocery store apple displays in the fall. i succumbed to the lure of easy caramel apples and while i found the dip lacking for making true caramel apples, it was delicious in dark chocolate brownies.
while i cheat with the caramel swirl and use prepared dip for that, i’ve never gone back to making brownies from a boxed mix ever since i was introduced to this brownie recipe in college. i used to not enjoy making brownies because, despite the fact that they are one of the simpler baked goods to make from a mix and despite the wide range of variations available (cake-like, gooey, fudge-swirl, etc.), i could never seem to make brownies that i wanted to eat.
until this recipe, that is. one of my college roommates introduced me to this recipe that she got from her friend’s mom and it’s just the best. intensely chocolately, moist without being too fudgy or goopy, and just sweet enough without making your teeth ache. and it’s easy – no mixers or other machines to drag out.
i actually adapted this go-to brownie recipe a bit in order to add the caramel swirl without making the finished the product too sweet. well that, and because i didn’t have the right ingredients to make the brownies exactly as the original recipe instructed. luckily the adaptation was delicious, though, and it wasn’t long before i was enjoying caramel swirl brownies (by which i mean eating too many before wrapping up the rest to foist off on coworkers).
- 8 oz. (226.8 g. / 2 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoonish chunks
- 2 oz. (56.7 g) unsweetened good quality chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 oz. (56.7 g) bittersweet good quality chocolate (i used ghiradelli 70% cocoa “extra bittersweet” chocolate), coarsely chopped
- 12 oz. (340.2 g. / scant 1 ¾ cups) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8.5 oz. (240 g. / 2 cups) flour
- 8 oz. (226.8 g. / ~1 cup) caramel apple dip (from a little tub, see notes)
- preheat the oven to 375° F and line a 9” x 13” pan with foil (i use a glass baking dish).
- in a double boiler (or heat safe large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water that doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl), melt the butter and chocolate over low – medium heat, stirring frequently. remove the mixture from heat and let it cool enough so that the eggs don’t cook when you add them in the next step (see notes).
- add the sugar and stir to combine. add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each egg. add the salt, vanilla, and flour; stir well to combine.
- pour the brownie batter into the lined pan and spread it into an even layer.
- use a soup spoon to plop dollops of caramel sauce across the brownie batter layer. gently drag a butter knife back and forth across the batter, through the caramel, to create the swirl.
- bake for about 20 minutes. stop baking a minute or two before you get to the “clean toothpick” stage. you want a few moist crumbs to stick to the toothpick (test a spot without caramel).
- let the brownies cool in the pan then use the foil to lift them out onto a cutting board. slide the foil out from under the brownies and cut into 18 brownies.
when i am in a hurry, i use one bowl for my double boiler and then scrape the melted chocolate into a different large bowl so that it cools faster (~5 – 10 minutes) and i can move on to the next step sooner. when i don’t feel like washing lots of dishes, i will remove the bowl from the pan, place it on a cookie cooling rack to promote air flow under the bottom of the bowl, and then just wait for the whole thing to cool down (~20 minutes). choices!
i used sanders fine chocolatiers classic caramel fruit and apple dip because i couldn’t resist the fact that it didn’t have artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils. so, you know, it’s a healthier tub of sugar.