Baking with caramel can be a little tricky. When baking caramel into brownies, I like to bake the bottom layer for at least 10 minutes first to give it a little time to set up. If you layer the caramel over the unbaked layer, the caramel melts into the batter and incorporates itself into it rather than remaining a distinct layer. Once I par-bake the bottom layer and spread the caramel over it, I also like to cover the caramel layer completely with the remaining batter rather than letting any peek through. A swirl of caramel always looks pretty in the finished product but I find that exposing the caramel to high heat causes it to bubble during baking then once it cools, the caramel becomes chewy and hard instead of creamy and soft. Hence the covering.
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup salted caramel
1 cup Milky Way caramels, chopped
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing the sides to hang over by 2 inches. Spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
- Melt butter in microwave. Add sugar and cocoa and stir until incorporated and smooth, and no bits of butter remain.
- Remove from heat and stir in salt, vanilla extract, and eggs until well combined and glossy. Add flour, stirring until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Once combined, with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold batter vigorously for about 30-45 seconds.
- Pour half of batter into prepared pan, spreading to the edges. Bake for 10 minutes. Dollop 1/2 cup salted caramel in teaspoon sized drops over the batter. Pour remaining batter over top and gently smooth to edges, trying to cover as much of the caramel as possible.
- Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a just a bit of batter attached and center barely jiggles when the pan is shaken. 5 minutes before the brownies are done, sprinkle with chunks of Milky Way caramels. When brownie is done, remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Using foil overhang, lift from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, slice with a sharp knife into 16 squares.