Sweet and Salty Brownies

Last weekend my Chief Culinary Consultant and I braved the crowds (and the heat) at the outlets and did some Memorial Day weekend shopping. It just so happened that the first store we stumbled upon was the Williams-Sonoma outlet. Swoon. They had some some things outside for a “sidewalk sale” and I noticed a stack of Baked Explorations cookbooks on one of the shelves – $9.99! Definite outlet no-brainer there. I’ve been dying to pick it up since positively loving every single recipe I tried from the first Baked cookbook (you know, the book that brought us the Baked Brownie and Root Beer Float Cake, mmm!). I snatched it up, among other things, and couldn’t wait to get in the car to start browsing through it. These sweet and salty brownies jumped off the page at me, and I knew immediately they would be the first thing I’d bake up from the book. It turned out to be a very good decision!

These brownies are a take on the fabulous Baked brownie, which are dense, fudgy and the most delicious brownie I have ever had. This recipe takes that recipe and slaps a layer of salted caramel in the middle and then sprinkles a combination of fleur de sel and coarse salt on top. Unlike the salted caramel brownies that I made last summer where I swirled the caramel into the brownie batter, the salted caramel in these brownies are baked right into a middle layer, so it essentially becomes part of the brownie batter. You can definitely taste it in there and the saltiness it imparts, along with the salt sprinkled on top, is a wonderful balance to the sweet richness of the brownie batter. These are definitely killer brownies. Love them!

I think for dessert tomorrow I’m going to warm one up in the microwave, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and enjoy it with a bottle of root beer. That sounds like bliss. Now, you must make these so you can join me!

One year ago: Pea in a Pod Baby Shower Cookies

Sweet and Salty Brownies

Yield: 24 brownies

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For the Salted Caramel Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
¼ cup sour cream

For the Brownie Batter:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Topping:
1½ teaspoons fleur de sel
1 teaspoon coarse sugar


1. Make the Caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with ¼ cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, or until the mixture is dark amber in color (keep a close eye on the caramel at all times, as it goes from golden brown to black and burnt very quickly), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream (careful, it will bubble up) and then the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

2. Make the Brownie Batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9x13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

5. Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

6. Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.

7. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of the flour mixture still visible.

8. Assemble the brownies: Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about ¾ cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, making sure the caramel doesn't come in contact with the edges oft he pan or it will burn. Use an offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer, leaving about a ½-inch border around the edges. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

9. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

10. Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and coarse sugar.

11. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

12. The brownies can be stored, tight wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

(Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations)


70 Responses to “Sweet and Salty Brownies”

  1. Heather (Heather's Dish) on June 7, 2011 at 12:39 am

    sweet and salty is such a great combination…i actually like salted chocolate more than salted caramel! so smooth and delicious!


  2. Jen of My Tiny Oven on June 7, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Bliss….Pure Bliss!!


  3. Lynne on June 7, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I didn’t know Williams-Sonoma had an outlet???!!!! Oh my goodness!!!!!
    Oh, and your brownies look delicious by the way, Michelle. 😉
    Chocolate goes so well with salt!
    I made your Root Beer Float Cake last week and it was a hit, thank you!


  4. Adam on June 7, 2011 at 1:40 am

    I’ve been looking for recipes to bake when I’m on vacation in a few weeks, these just skyrocketed to the top!! 🙂 Thanks!! I’ve already started to drool in anticipation :).


  5. Paula on June 7, 2011 at 3:25 am

    OH my! Those baked brownies were *already* delicious and you dare to try to improve them!?! 🙂 I don’t know if that can be done! 🙂 These look fabulous, by the way. 🙂


  6. Charlie on June 7, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Guess what I’ll be doing today!

    I don’t know what kind of syrup you use.
    If you haven’t used Lyle’s, try it next time. It has a caramel flavour all it’s own, that will add to the brownie.

    Here is Canada you can get it in the grocery store. In the States if not grocery, maybe a specialty store.

    Hope you can find it.


    • Penny Wolf on June 7th, 2011 at 6:46 am

      In the South (USA) we have our own brand of golden syrup called KING”S. It can be ordered from a company named CARRIAGE HOUSE. My opinion is the flavor of
      both golden syrups is a light molasses. Yummy? Oh yes but not really a caramel


  7. Blog is the New Black on June 7, 2011 at 6:07 am

    These brownies look great, but um… WS has an outlet?! Need to get there!


  8. Lynn on June 7, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Where is the Williams-Sonoma outlet?
    These brownies look yummy!


  9. Victoria (District Chocoholic) on June 7, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Caramel filling made with sour cream sounds delightful, and I think that coarse salt should be a required brownie ingredient. Matches the sweet chocolate flavor so nicely.


  10. Alicia at AliGirl Cooks on June 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Yum! Salted caramel brownie sound delicious. I need to get back into baking and this might be my first recipe!


  11. The Blue-Eyed Bakers on June 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

    We have got to make these…the name alone is enough to make us drool…not to mention your gorgeous pics!


  12. Emily Malloy @Cleanliness on June 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I love combining sweet and salty! This looks beautiful!


  13. Happy When Not Hungry on June 7, 2011 at 9:50 am

    These brownies look delicious!! Def love the sweet and salty combo. Yum!


  14. Robyn {Planet Byn} on June 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

    matt and renato came to a williams-sonoma in toronto as part of their book tour last fall. they made these and we all got to sample them, and i also made them at home. they are honestly the best brownies i’ve ever had!


  15. Paula on June 7, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Great looking brownies and I bet warmed in the microwave and served with ice cream and a root beer is probably the best way to enjoy them!


  16. Amanda (Eating Up) on June 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I love salty and sweet. It may be one of my favorite food pairings!


  17. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on June 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Wow, that is a great deal on the cookbook! I’ve been seeing those Baked brownies around the blogs and really need to try them soon! Your spin sounds fantastic.


  18. Hannah at FleurDeLicious on June 7, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I’ve heard a lot about these brownies, they look fantastic! I recently made the Sweet and Salty Cake from the first Baked book…I think I need to make these next. Yum!


  19. Charlie on June 7, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Pennywolf: The Lyle’s is a definite caramel flavour, nothing like molasses.


  20. linda on June 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    i LOVE those boys & have been to the bakery in red hook!
    i have made several recipes from the “explorations” (the cowboy cookies are always requested from friends) …i like the brownies from their first book..but, since i admire & respect you i am going to bake these!!
    LOVE your blog!!


  21. Sharlene on June 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I have the Baked Explorations cookbook but have yet to make these brownies. I’m swooning over them and kicking myself in the butt for not making them sooner! Thanks for sharing 🙂


  22. Gabby@foodchowdown on June 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Love Sweet and Salty. Just like Kettlecorn Popcorn but better!


  23. RisaG on June 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Boy do these sound excellent. I am going to see if my local W&S has that book on sale. I want that one. If all the recipes are like this one, I’ll be gaining a lot of weight, but it will be worth it!


  24. Meghan on June 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Love the sweet and salty combo! These brownies look divine!


  25. Megan on June 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    These brownies look fabulous, but I have one question. Can I substitute sea salt for fleur de sel?


    • Michelle on June 7th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Megan, You should be able to, but I would look for a small-crystal type of sea salt, not the very large ones.


  26. Jamie-Lee on June 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Oh! This is the Baked brownie from “The Best Thing I ever Ate” on Food Network! I’ve been meaning to search for the recipe for some time now- thanks for sharing!


  27. Annalise on June 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Oh my, you make me want a brownie so bad!


  28. bakingaddict on June 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Wow I love the sweet and salty combination.


  29. Cassie @ Bake Your Day on June 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I absolutely love sea salt with chocolate, great recipe!


  30. Barbara | Creative Culinary on June 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Now you know this would be right up my love chocolate, caramel and salt alley! I have that book and now am a bit embarrassed to admit. Have yet to open it. That will change soon!


  31. I don’t like chocolate, but I adore caramel so I’d have to give these a go if the salt won’t send my blood pressure through the roof. Wow, they look so moist and gooey.


  32. Rachel R. on June 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    ohhh I love that cookbook! I just made their caramel sauce from the book for the Caramel Apple Cake, and since I have so much leftover, I feel like I’ll be making these (or your other caramel brownies)…. Perfect timing!


  33. teri@thefreshmancook on June 8, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I can’t wait to make these. They look yummy! Thank you for a great post!!!


  34. Justeen @ Blissful Baking on June 8, 2011 at 1:59 am

    These brownies sound PERFECT. A moist, fudgy brownie with salty caramel (my current obsession) and sea salt sprinkled on top? Blissss.


  35. The Café Sucré Farine on June 8, 2011 at 5:56 am

    These look like the perfect brownie, and the caramel just takes them over the top, wow!


  36. lux on June 8, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I just baked this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! Brownies and caramel,what could be better? Way to go!! My daughter has recently become a vegan and I found a similar recipe here: http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/dessertsagoodies/organic-chocolate-brownie-both-fat-and-gluten-free-recipe


  37. amy on June 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I just stumbled upon your website when looking for recipes. I think I’m officially addicted. I’ve already printed out the recipes for 7 layer bars, cheddar ale dip and the fruit dip. I’m pretty sure my diet won’t be thanking you :)!


  38. Tabitha (From Single to Married) on June 8, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Sweet AND salty? Sign me up!


  39. Lindsay @Eat, Knit, Grow on June 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Yum! Those look incredible!


  40. Katrina on June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Amazing! Love this recipe 🙂


  41. Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) on June 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Those look amazing and I’d take 1 or 5 right now. : )

    I had no clue William-Sonoma had an outlet. Why oh why can’t there be one closer to me?!


  42. Jennifer {court st. kitchen} on June 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Oh goodness. I’ve been on a caramel kick lately…it’s not usually my thing…so this is looking especially good!


  43. The Chocolate Priestess on June 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    They look very springing, like they might bounce back a bit if I touch them. Looks yummy, too.


  44. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on June 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    These sound amazing… And, a Williams-Sonoma outlet? Sounds like a good time to me!


  45. Connie the Cookie Monster on June 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    hmm sounds interesting!


  46. Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen on June 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Oh sweet and salty, the best combination in the world. Possibly why I enjoy pb & chocolate so much! Delicious looking brownies, now I want some and all I have is a nectarine…


  47. allana on June 8, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    for those of us without double boilers, how do you recommend we melt the chocolate?


    • Michelle on June 9th, 2011 at 9:18 am

      Allana, I don’t have a true double-boiler either, I just always use a bowl (stainless steel is best, but you can use ceramic mixing bowls too, just don’t use glass – it can crack) set over a small saucepan with about an inch of simmering water.


  48. Chris's Gourmet Fashion on June 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Wish we had a W&S outlet here too :). These brownies look just incredible. Am bookmarking for the next time I make brownies. Your photos are also very beautiful.


  49. Lindsey@Lindselicious on June 9, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I have been dying to try these brownies! Yours look amazing!!


  50. Aroma y Cocina on June 9, 2011 at 5:20 am

    They look excellent! I love chocolate!
    I must try them.


  51. Heather on June 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Love the combo of chocolate and salt- found you on Foodbuzz, great blog!


  52. Peggy on June 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    This is definitely one delicious looking brownie! Love the sweet and salty combo any time =)


  53. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on June 9, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Oh I bet these are sooooo addicting!


  54. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on June 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Wonderful! Great score on the cookbook! Wish I had one of these right now. Instead…Hershey Kiss. As good as it is for my chocolate fix, it is not these brownies!


  55. Hannah on June 12, 2011 at 6:44 am

    It’s 6:44am and my mouth is watering just looking at these….you always take such beautiful photos of your food and I just adore your writing!


  56. Sandra on June 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    These look amazing!


  57. Michelle Benoit (ChocolateCentral) on June 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

    These brownies look amazing. I love the fudgy dense look from the salted caramel filling. I will definitely be making these. I love dense chocolatey brownies, not the cake-like version some people try to pass off as brownies. My hats off to you!


  58. Kathy on June 14, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Your sweet and salty brownies sound wonderful, but I din’t know what “fleur de sel” is. Can you please tell me. Thank you.


    • Michelle on June 15th, 2011 at 10:13 am

      Hi Kathy, Fleur de sel is a type of sea salt that has a flaky texture. I’ve never seen it in a “regular” grocery store, but might be available in higher end groceries; otherwise you can purchase it from Williams Sonoma, King Arthur Flour, online at Amazon, etc.


  59. Lisa Williams on October 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I made these last night for a family gathering I have today. I have to say these are truly amazing! I can’t wait to share them with everyone. Thanks for a fabulous recipe.

    P.S I don’t feel so bad about spending $14.00 on salt now 😉


  60. Megan on November 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I’ve been looking for these since I saw them on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” I’ve made them and they are as awesome as I hoped they’d be. Thank you!


  61. Jay on January 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    These were just incredible! Thanks for sharing the recipe!



  62. MAHNOOR on January 30, 2013 at 7:14 am

    I WILL TRY IT. 😉


  63. Nancy B Vasquez on August 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I actually like more cake like brownies rather than fudgy. Is it possible to add baking powder or salt to make it that way? If so, how much should I add?


    • Michelle on August 7th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Nancy, I would not recommend doctoring the recipe to make a more cake-like brownie. These are definitely formulated to be fudge-like. I would recommend searching for a cakey brownie recipe instead.


  64. Wendy on September 21, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Have made these a few times (I also have their books) and I’m always afraid that they’re underbaked because they’re soooo fudgy. And again, I sit here drinking my coffee having just cut another batch and was worried – then I saw your photos and they look EXACTLY like my brownies. Phew…finally a reference point!


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