One of the joys of having a pastry chef or keen home-baker in your life is that every occasion seems to get baked for.
One of the downsides of being a pastry chef is that no one bakes for you ever. Except your Mum that is, and only because she baked for you all your life anyway.
But everyone else claims to be terrified that their baked goods won’t be up to scratch, that you’ll judge them, that you won’t like them, etcetera, etcetera.
But sweets are much more fun to eat when someone else has done all the hard work and made them for you!
True to form, it was Mr Man’s birthday last week and I baked for him.
They have a salty-sweet pretzel base, then there’s a layer of my favourite ever brownie, and that’s topped with a thick and chewy salted caramel.
They’re rich and decadent, and definitely for sugar and chocolate lovers. You’ll only need a small square to get your sugar hit, and they’re best served accompanied with a tall glass of milk or a coffee. X
- FOR THE PRETZEL BASE:
- 1½ cups crumbled pretzels
- 60g unsalted butter, melted (2 oz)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- FOR THE BROWNIE:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (170g, 6 oz)
- 455g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (1 pound)
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed (395g, 14 oz)
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp plain flour (130g, 4.5 oz)
- FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL:
- 125g water (1/2 cup)
- 330g caster (superfine) sugar (1½ cups)
- 90g unsalted butter, cubed (3 oz)
- 180g cream (3/4 cup)
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
- To make the pretzel crust, preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F) and grease and line the base and sides of a 9 x 13 inch tin with baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzels, melted butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until the sugar breaks down and everything is combined.
- Press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan, spreading into a very thin and even layer. Bake for 6 - 8 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool.
- To make the brownie, reduce the oven temperature to 180 C (350 F).
- Put the butter it in a heatproof bowl together with the chocolate. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate are melted, smooth and combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar salt and vanilla on a high speed until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage – when it is thick, pale, and falls from the whisk in a ribbon that folds onto itself.
- Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until incorporated. Gently fold in the flour, until just combined.
- Pour the batter over the pretzel base and smooth out the top with a spatula.
- Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, until the top is lightly cracked and soft to the touch. Set aside to cool.
- To make the caramel, place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and place over a high heat. Cook until the mixture has reached 175 C (350 F) on a candy thermometer, or until it is a dark amber colour.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the butter and cream over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined.
- When the caramel has reached the desired temperature, remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream mixture.
- Return to the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly.
- Pour the caramel over the brownie and spread out to make an even layer.
- Refrigerate for 4-5 hours, until set, then sprinkle with sea salt.
- Keep refrigerated, but allow to soften a little at room temperature before serving. Makes 24 brownies.
- Happy baking!
Pretzel layer adapted from this recipe.
Brownie recipe adapted from Tartine via this recipe.
Salted caramel recipe adapted from Donna Hay.