Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Caramel Brownies Recipe Fail

While I have unending devotion to the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, I occasionally stray into caramel. For weeks I have been looking forward to making Smitten Kitchen’s salted caramel brownies.

The uglyducklingbakery “bloopers” series is a collection of stories of recipes gone awry. It sometimes seems like everything is perfect on the internet. In reality, things don’t always go the way we plan, and that’s ok.

In the spirit of the ugly duckling bakery, I am sharing these imperfections with you. Maybe I’ll try again and improve these with my own recipe. These salted caramel chip chocolate cookies come close. Or maybe I’ll just go back to making perfect chocolate brownies without the caramel.

eta: the brownies were a definite improvement on day 2. The caramel appears to have soaked into the rest of the brownie, so it may be that if you want a brownie dripping with gooey caramel, you have to serve them underbaked on day 1.

The Smitten Kitchen recipe calls for making caramel and freezing it for 20 to 40 minutes. You mix most of the pieces into the brownie batter and sprinkle the rest over the top.

chopped caramel on a cutting board.
chopped caramel sprinkled over brownie batter.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. There’s nothing worse than over-baked brownies. I made sure the temperature was right, and I checked at 25 minutes. Caramel was bubbling through the top of the brownie like a simmering soup, but the brownie itself was far from done. I baked them for another 7 or 8 minutes, until my toothpick came out clean.

baked caramel brownies in a pan with caramel puddles.
cut caramel brownies.

They weren’t a total failure. I do occasionally have those, and I have no problem tossing baking failures (or, pre-COVID, leaving them in the work breakroom. You know anything left in the breakroom gets met with joy.).

The brownies taste faintly of burnt caramel. If I had to guess my problem, it was that I cut the frozen caramel into pieces smaller than the one inch squares suggested. Or maybe SK really undercooks these brownies – she describes ooey-gooey brownies like they are molten chocolate cake. Her pics definitely look that way.

I suspect that, when smothered with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, no one will notice any issues. I know Mr. uglyducklingbakery was happy, because this time I left him the bowl.

a bowl and spatula used to make brownie batter.

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