salted caramel brownies: a journey

Given how much I love to bake, I’m routinely disappointed by the GS’ lack of enthusiasm related to desserts. Many nights I just bake two lonesome cookies for myself from a batch of dough I keep stored in the fridge at all times. He rarely partakes.

But he randomly LOVES brownies. And I’ve made homemade brownies enough times to say with some confidence that generally, the boxed ones are actually better.

(I’m talking the Ghiradelli mix. Not like, Duncan Hines. I’m not a peasant.)

But these brownies are Baltimore famous and the creator (Charm City Cook) perhaps in a quarantine-fueled mix of sympathy and boredom, made the recipe available! You should definitely read her whole post for the history and the instructions. What else are you doing?

I did the exact opposite of what she said which is to make the recipe exactly as is the first time before swapping anything. But I think she would understand that these are trying times and I can’t run to Harris Teeter for unsweetened chocolate or instant coffee!

So go read her post and then come back.


Okay now that you have the base recipe and a full understanding of the importance of these brownies, here’s what I changed:

1) I cut the entire recipe in half. There’s only two of us here who are permitted to eat these brownies, as much as that disappoints Louise, so I figured one small pan would suffice.

2) I don’t have unsweetened chocolate so I used majority bittersweet chips (5 oz) and  2 oz semisweet chips.


Damn I love using my kitchen scale. It makes me feel special.

3) Instead of instant coffee, I ground some dark roast coffee beans REALLY fine, and then put them through a fine mesh strainer to avoid any grainy texture in the batter. I did two teaspoons of this to account for them not being brewed. I know you can sub strongly brewed coffee for instant coffee, but then you also have to adjust the liquid ratios of other ingredients and I thought that seemed riskier. I always try to include coffee in chocolate desserts because it really does make a difference.

4) Alas, I don’t have any Maldon salt so I used Himalayan pink salt.


That might be the most uppity thing I’ve ever typed.

Anyway, these are a time commitment given the waiting between preparing the salted caramel, and the chill time before you can cut and serve. So make sure you plan ahead and do the caramel the day before, or start in the morning.

All this said, the first time I made these I forgot the flour.

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I shouldn’t even say I forgot it. I thought to myself, “oh, like flourless chocolate cake!” and also “these are gluten-free, I’ll have to send to Danielle!” and “perfect for anyone who can’t get their hands on a bag of flour!!”

Forgetting makes it sound innocent. What actually happened is I apparently can’t read. The only reason I even discovered my mistake was that after I baked them for EXACTLY 34 minutes as directed, they still looked very soupy. Which can happen when you omit the only dry ingredient.

That said, the GS said it was the best mistake I ever made. They were still so delicious but more like fudge. But because I refuse to fail I made them AGAIN the following day, triple-checking that I had included all ingredients this time.


Why wouldn’t two people need two pans of brownies during a quarantine?

Honestly… they weren’t THAT different with the flour. We did a side-by-side taste test and then I immediately put 80% of them in the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to continue. They basically shouldn’t even be called brownies because the level of fudginess makes them their own class of dessert. I do recommend including the flour because it gives them more structure- they definitely set up better and are easier to cut. But mouthwatering either way.


AND an important note is that you end up with enough caramel for two batches, so at least I didn’t have to do that part again. Though I did very much enjoy sharing the step-by-step on my Instagram story (@spilllthebeansblog with 3 L’s)


K going to stare at all the brownies in my freezer the end.


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