Over the weekend, I posted a blog on one of New York City's most unique dining experiences, Dîner en Blanc. While I would love to put up every recipe that I made for the evening, I am forced to just choose 1 recipe from the evening that I thought was really special and decadent. Of course, if there was anything from the menu that evening that looked particularly appealing to you, feel free to send me a message and I will be happy to share!
Now, onto dessert...always a very dear and special subject for me! I am one of those people who no matter how full I am will always save a bit of room for dessert, even if I can only eat no more than a bite. A full meal to me always comprises of appetizer, main entrée and dessert. I can skip on soup/salad, but dessert is a given even if not eaten at the same restaurant.
For Dîner en Blanc, I wanted to create an easy but over-the-top dessert that would transport easily and keep in case it did turn out to be a hot summer day. I played around with a bunch of ideas before finally deciding on this salted caramel espresso brownie.
I found a recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker's, for salted caramel brownies. I always head over there when I'm in the need for some good baked goods porn. And Michelle never disappoints! I had to make a good amount of adjustments to the recipe due to pure laziness of going to the supermarket to pick up the key ingredients I was missing like white sugar, milk and eggs. I know. This happens A LOT! I was a bit nervous especially about my caramel sauce, but ended up loving that dark, caramel flavor from the coconut milk.
If you remember, a few months back I made a batch of brownies with coconut milk because I ran out of milk and heavy cream. It ended up being such a great addition that I knew it would work well here as well. The coconut milk gave the brownies a super moist, fudgy texture; the espresso a smoky flavor that brought out the dark chocolate, as well as giving us a small jolt of caffeine to finish the meal. Topping it with the espresso-salt mixture I had picked up on one of my travels this summer was the perfect foil for the brownie. If you don't have it on-hand, you can make your own mixture using equal ratio espresso granules to coarse kosher salt. Or you can also just top it with any flaky sea salt you have in your kitchen: fleur de sel, Maldon, Himalayan pink or Hawaiian black sea salt. If you're a salt whore like me, you'll have as much fun experimenting with salt in your food as I do.
I hope you enjoy these brownies as much as we did! Have it with a glass of virgin milk and all the flavors will really explode.
SALTED CARAMEL ESPRESSO BROWNIES
Makes 16 bars
*Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
7 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate chips
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons instant espresso granules
1 tbsp local honey
2 large eggs
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup light coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Espresso-salt or flaky sea salt
For Salted Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1. For sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, but that’s okay – it will melt eventually – just keep whisking. Add in the salt, and then add the butter all at once and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the sugar. To keep from burning, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the coconut milk immediately (if it bubbles, you are doing it correctly). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before using in the brownies.
2. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan lightly with butter to avoid sticking.
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, melt chocolate and butter in the microwave on 50% power for 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. This should take 3 30-second intervals. Whisk in the espresso and honey until smooth. Set aside to cool.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, vanilla, coconut milk and salt until combined. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture; make sure the chocolate is not hot otherwise it can curdle the egg mixture. Stir in the flour until just combined, do not overmix.
5. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread into the corners. Spoon 9 dollops of Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. Top with the remaining brownie mixture, spread into the corners and level the surface with a spatula. Again, spoon 9 dollops of the Salted Caramel Sauce on top of the brownie batter. With a toothpick, gently run it through the batter to swirl the batter just a bit (don’t do it too much or it will all mix together). Sprinkle a bit of espresso-salt on top evenly.
6. Bake until slightly puffed, 35 to 40 minutes. Use a toothpick and insert in center; if it is not coated in batter, if it is ready to take out. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1-2 hours; this will make it easier to cut smoothly. Cut into squares or triangles like I did. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or refrigerated and brought up to room temperature when ready to serve. Use the leftover salted caramel sauce to drizzle over the brownies if you like.