Hello, readers! It’s been quite a while since I posted a recipe-related post, hasn’t it? Well, I’m back this week with an Ina Garten dessert recipe that is sure to knock your socks off! I couldn’t believe how tasty and flavorful these brownies were. The Barefoot Contessa is known for combining simple ingredients and flavors to make something even stellar and this recipe is no exception.
Aside from her famous television series where she brought a little slice of the Hamptons lifestyle into the homes of millions of Americans, Ina Garten is also known for her desserts. Some of them are quite complex and stylized such as her Pear Conflouti or her Boston Creme Pie. But, some of her greatest recipe gems are the ones that are the simplest of all.
Take brownies for example. The Barefoot Contessa is no stranger to making brownies. In fact, her Cookbook Recipe Index lists a few different options. She’s even written brownie-adjacent recipes such as her Chocolate Chunk Blondies and (if we’re stretching a bit) her Chocolate Banana Crumb Cake (which is something I proudly still dream about).
This time around, I resisted the strong urge to once again bake the Chocolate Banana Crumb Cake. The bananas on my counter were practically calling my name, covered in brown spots and getting soft. But I remained strong and decided on brownies instead. While I have yet to make Ina Garten’s famous Outrageous Brownies, I decided to do something with the volume turned up.
Salted Caramel Brownies!
For some reason, I can’t seem to ever remember that whenever I’m making brownies, I DO NOT need my stand mixer. Still, I always manage to haul it up the stairs from the garage pantry before reading the recipe only to find that all I need to do is hand mix the batter.
After hauling the stand mixer back downstairs, I melted two sticks of butter and two types of chocolate over a double boiler. This recipe uses both semi-sweet chocolate chips and three ounces of unsweetened chocolate. Once that was melted and combined, I allowed the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.
During the waiting period, I mixed together with a whisk the sugar, vanilla, eggs, and instant coffee granules. I’ve used these before when making chocolate things, such as the chocolate cake that I can never seem to escape making. However, usually I mix that with some water before adding it to the rest of the batter. Not this time. The recipe called for the straight granules to be added to the mixture.
Once the butter/chocolate mix was cool enough, I added it to the sugar/egg bowl. Then came more waiting. The next step involved adding flour and more chocolate chips. To prevent the chocolate chips from melting, it was recommended by Ina to wait until the mixture was at room temperature.
Eventually, it was time to bake the batter. I used a 13-inch by 9-in glass pan. This was slightly larger than the one Ina recommended, but it’s all I had
Baking It and Finishing It
The brownies were ready to come out of the oven after 35 minutes. Once they were on the rack to cool, I heated up the salted caramel sauce in the microwave until it was “pourable.” Since mine was in the fridge for a little while before needing it, it took about a minute to become warm enough to pour over the brownies.
Then it was time to do sprinkle the sea salt on top. I’ve had a canister of Maldon sea salt for over a year. I use it sparingly since it really is a finishing salt. The larger granules don’t really lend itself to being used in recipes. Though, I’m sure in a pinch, one could.
After pouring the caramel sauce and sprinkling the salt on top. I allowed the brownies, which were still extremely warm from the oven, the cool completely.
Cut to: Three Hours Later.
The time had finally arrived. The brownies were cool to room temperature after about two and a half hours, but the caramel sauce was still quite gooey. I popped the tray into the fridge before slicing. I figured chilling the sauce would make my knife cut through things easier.
Though Ina Garten’s recipe says to cut the brownies into 12 pieces, I thought this was way too large. I could tell the brownies would rich thanks to all the chocolate in them. Add to it the creamy, salty flavor from the caramel and it would be an explosion in your mouth.
So I ended up slicing them into about 18 pieces, which were much more manageable and less sugar coma inducing. I wrapped each one with some wax paper and continued to the store them in the fridge. But, I did keep one out to try.
The first flavor that hit me wasn’t the chocolate, but the salt. The caramel sauce I used was already considered “salted caramel” but when I tried some, it didn’t appear too salty. So, I didn’t really mind adding the extra flaky stuff to the baked brownies. I take this as chef’s error, especially since I may have been a little too generous with the sea salt. Granted, it wasn’t salty enough that it was inedible, but it was the initial flavor profile.
Next, you get a delicious stick-to-your-teeth hit of the caramel. Finally, the chocolate flavor comes through, and if you’re lucky you may even get some much-desired texture from an un-melted chocolate morsel.
Overall, this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa produces a flavorful and textured brownie. However, if you do end up making it, make sure you don’t go too far overboard on the salt.