I’ve been making these Chocolate Caramel Brownie Bars for years and they’re so good, you’ll struggle to have just one.
I first found the recipe for this many many years ago in a BBC Good Food magazine. It’s by Rachel Allen. It contains a heck of a lot of butter. It’s gorgeously indulgent, chocolatey and rich. In other words, I make this as a special treat.
Even though you’ll struggle to stop yourself at just one piece, there’s still plenty to share. Of course, if you’re not in a sharing mood, this also keeps brilliantly for a few days in Tupperware or an old tin. I’ve carted these bars to work before in a Fabulously Fox’s biscuit tin left over from Christmas! No one will care how it gets to them, they’ll just be very pleased it has.
I’ve tweaked the recipe and instructions just slightly from the original, but you’ll find both available at the bottom of the post.
Start with a brownie base using your favourite cocoa powder. I use Cadbury Bournville through habit, more than anything else. It’s one of those things that’s just always been in my cupboard and when it runs out, it gets replaced. There’s plenty of other options on the market, so use what you like.
Next up, you’ll add the caramel layer. It’s made from scratch but don’t be put off! There’s no special gadgetry required and it’s actually really easy. It just requires some patience. My words of wisdom for this are, in no particular order:
- Don’t plan on doing anything else | Making the caramel will require all of your attention. It needs to be stirred constantly to stop it catching.
- Be patient | You can’t rush it. Use a low heat, edging towards medium at most. Anything higher and you’ll probably burn it. If you catch it in time, you’ll find your caramel flecked with darkly golden bits of caramelised sugar. If you don’t, you’ll be starting again.
- Expect it to spit | As you’ll see from the picture above, I use quite a small saucepan to make my caramel. I feel like I have better control over stirring it and scraping the bottom of the pan. As the liquid comes well up the sides of the saucepan as it boils, the caramel will occasionally spit at you. A wider saucepan may offer you greater protection but you’ll also have a larger heat source, so watch out for it getting too hot!
- Don’t quit too early | When you’re cooking the caramel, don’t give up before it darkens enough. You want to pour a caramel that will set onto your brownie base, not a sauce. I often pick the pan up from the heat and take it to a window to check the colour – natural light will give you the best idea of how cooked it is. Go for a dark golden colour that leaves a trail when you drop it from the spoon.
Lastly, splash out on some nice chocolate with a good cocoa content. There’s a lot of sugar in this recipe and you’ll want something with a good cocoa edge to cut into it. Green & Blacks, Lindt, Ritter Sport… as long as you’re working above 35% cocoa and it’s not a sweet bar to start with, you’ll be fine. I wouldn’t recommend using something sugar laden like Cadbury for this.
For all the layers involved, it really doesn’t take too long to put together. Unfortunately there’s a significant delay between finishing the assembly and being able to carve it into little gooey, chewy, deliciously chocolatey pieces. Expect to wait for around 6 hours with this in the fridge before you’ll be able to serve it. It’s totally worth the wait.
As proof of this recipe’s consistency, below you’ll see a picture of the bars made in England back in 2008, followed by the ones made the other week here in Germany.
There’s not much difference between the two – save for me taking the time to smooth the brownie surface and trim the pieces into very photogenic squares!
Finally then, Rachel Allen’s original recipe calls for hazelnuts in the caramel layer – which I don’t and have never used. I am curious how Honey Roasted Peanuts might do in their place though… If anyone gives this a try, please let me know! I’d love to see the results!
Original Recipe: Rachel Allen’s Chocolate and Hazelnut Caramel Bars | GoodtoKnow.co.uk
These Chocolate Caramel Brownie Bars are adapted from an original recipe by Rachel Allen. They're rich, buttery, chocolatey and very, very good.
- 200 g Butter
- 60 g Cocoa
- 150 g Caster Sugar
- 150 g Light Muscovado Sugar
- 2 Medium Eggs, Beaten
- 225 g Plain Flour
- 125 g Butter
- 75 g Caster Sugar
- 397 g Tin of Condensed Milk
- 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
- 200 g Chocolate (35% or Higher Cocoa Content)
- 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
Preheat the oven to 140 C Fan Assisted (275 F) or 160 C Standard (325 F).
Grease and line a 20 cm x 30 cm baking tin with baking paper. The tin should have a depth of at least 3cm.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa powder and sugars together. Mix until everything has dissolved and is relatively smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute.
Add the beaten eggs to the warm cocoa mixture. Mix thoroughly. The mixture will start to thicken.
Add the flour and thoroughly mix in. Pour into the prepared tin and level out the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes until starting to firm up on top. The brownie should still be soft in the centre. Remove from the oven and put to one side whilst making the caramel layer.
Put the butter, sugar, condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan. Place the pan over a low to medium heat and allow the contents to melt through.
Once everything has become liquid, stir constantly as the caramel begins to heat up. It will gradually rise to a boil and start to darken. This will take around 15 minutes but may take longer depending on how hot your cooking heat is.
When the caramel has darkened in colour, becoming golden, thick and leaves a trail when dropped from a spoon, it's ready. Pour the caramel directly over the brownie base, smoothing out the surface gently.
Break the chocolate into squares and put them into a microwavable dish.
Heat the chocolate in short bursts of around 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each. When the chocolate is mostly melted but retains a few lumps, stop heating and continue stirring until all the chocolate has melted.
Add the oil to the melted chocolate, stir well to incorporate fully and pour over the caramel. Gently ease the chocolate across the surface to level.
The Chocolate Caramel Brownie will retain its heat for quite some time. Once cool enough to safely put in the fridge, loosely tent the Chocolate Caramel Brownie tray with tinfoil before doing so. It will take around 6 hours before everything is well set and the bake can be served.