Sharing salted caramel turtle brownies today *in hopes* that you still have room left on your Christmas baking list.
And even if not, salted caramel turtle brownies will squeeze their salty, sweet, sticky, ooey, gooey, chocolate, fudgy selves onto your Christmas baking list anyway. Also, so there’s no confusion, turtles are those candy clusters with pecans, caramel, and chocolate. There are no actual animal turtles in today’s post.
Truth is, I wanted to share these brownies earlier in December part of the cookie palooza. Only I couldn’t because I kept miserably failing at the recipe. And just the other day… another failed batch. I was ready to throw in the towel this past Tuesday, but kept imagining how perfect these calorie bombs would be on all of our cookie platters this weekend. I was motivated by dessert. Aren’t we all?
So here’s what I was doing wrong: I kept trying to bake homemade salted caramel into the brownies. Layering the caramel inside the brownies resulted in burnt edges and the caramel layer virtually disappearing. “Did you forget to put the caramel in?” No, Kevin, I didn’t. It seeped and baked right into the batter. Or it got tired of all the Christmas music I’ve been listening too and just left. Either could be possible at this point.
Failed batch 2: then I tried making the salted caramel, chilling it until relatively solid, then chopping it up to stir into the brownie batter. This just created extra steps and took too long.
And failed batch 3: chopping up soft store-bought caramels and stirring those into the batter along with chopped pecans. Less steps? Yes. Delicious? Oh gosh yes. But it’s not homemade salted caramel sauce. Store-bought caramels will never be homemade salted caramel sauce. ?
I tried one more time.
What if we just poured slightly cooled salted caramel ON TOP of the warm brownies. Sort of like a caramel blanket of sorts. (!!!) The salted caramel would slightly thicken as the brownies cool. Then, when cutting, the salted caramel would gently seep over the edges. This could work. And, my baking friends, this could be beautiful.
Sometimes the simple lazy girl method wins the race. And I think we’re all ok with that!
Real quick, 2 things:
- Not a fan of nuts? That’s ok, you can leave out the pecans. The brownies will no longer be turtle-y though. Just plain ol’ salted caramel brownies. Which definitely isn’t a bad thing.
- The brownie base is my recent seriously fudgy brownies recipe. A one-bowl recipe! I used this particular brownie base because it makes a large 9×13 pan, perfect for large gatherings this time of year. Want to make a smaller batch? See my recipe note.
The salted caramel on top stays a little sticky so I do not recommend stacking the brownies. I do recommend slicing them a little smaller because they’re quite rich. And serving with a napkin. And maybe a warning label. And a gym membership.
- 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 175g) unsalted butter
- one 4 ounce (113g) semi-sweet chocolate bar, coarsely chopped1
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (95g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder2
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (120g) Diamond of California chopped pecans
- 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup (full recipe) homemade salted caramel
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9×13 inch pan pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies/caramel out of the pan as a whole. This makes cutting easier. I recommend parchment paper because the caramel won’t really stick to it.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and 2 ounces of chopped chocolate. Melt in 30 second increments, whisking after each, until completely smooth. Whisk in the sugar until completely combined, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. The batter will be light brown and a little dull looking.
- Add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate, pecans, and chocolate chips. Fold it all together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Batter will be very thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then test the brownies with a toothpick. Insert it into the center of the pan. If it comes out with wet batter, the brownies are not done. If there are only a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done. Keep checking every 2 minutes until you have moist crumbs. My brownies take 31-32 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and pour slightly cooled salted caramel on top of hot brownies. Spread it evenly on top. If desired, and if you like very salty/sweet, sprinkle top with coarse salt. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares. I like to stick the pan in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Cover and store leftover brownies at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: Brownies, with or without caramel, freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bring to room temperature before serving.
- Chocolate bars are typically sold in 4 ounce bars. 2 ounces will be melted down into the batter and 2 ounces will be chopped up and folded into the batter. I suggest Ghirardelli, Baker’s brand, or Lindt.
- You can use either natural or dutch-process cocoa powder. I prefer dutch-process for a smoother flavor.
Want a smaller batch? Make these chewy fudgy brownies and pour about 3/4 cup of the salted caramel on top.
Did you make a recipe?
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Kidding! There IS a turtle in today’s post.
(Franklin found one in the yard this summer ♥)