Does this recipe sound intimidating to you? Have no fear! It's actually quite easy with a little help from Hotel Chocolat.
I first tried chocolate from Hotel Chocolat about a year ago at one of L'Espalier's Cheese Tuesday events. It wasn't until this past February, when my mom and sister were here for a visit, that I finally made it to their store on Newbury Street though. I don't know what I had been waiting for! As soon as we walked in, the sales associates swooped in and offered us samples of chocolate. I kind of wish every store would do that.
While we savored some Caramel Sweethearts, we walked around the store, checking out the different products. It was just before Valentine's Day, so there were a lot of fancy heart-shaped chocolates and some chocolate doodles (bars made of different kinds of chocolate with hearts and colorful doodles on them -- I brought a milk chocolate caramel one with a white chocolate heart home to my valentine), in addition to the regular variety of chocolates and all the baking chocolates and gift sets. (I really should have taken some pictures in there.)
|This picture is from Hotel Chocolat's website|
We probably sampled three different kinds of chocolates while we were browsing, and when I got up to the register, the sales associate remembered that I had said I really like hazelnut chocolates, so she opened up another package of chocolate for us to sample. I was so impressed at how friendly and helpful everyone in the store was, and I was even more impressed with the quality of the chocolate. I even loved their milk chocolate -- and I usually prefer dark chocolate.
Together, my mom, my sister, and I must have walked out with six or seven different packages of chocolates to try. Among the things we got were salted caramel Puddles.
I decided that while they would taste just divine on their own, they might be even better baked into something -- like a brownie. So these intense chocolate brownies with salted caramel puddles came about. They are rich and decadent, and the puddles, in addition to adding some creamy caramel, give them just a little bit of salty crunch.
I used the Flour Bakery brownie recipe because I knew they'd have the fudgy texture I was looking for to pair with the salted caramel puddles, but if you have another favorite brownie recipe, feel free to use that.
You can find the caramel puddles at Hotel Chocolat. I was hoping they were available to order online, but it looks like just the gift sets are. (The UK site has many more of the products available online.) There are some amazing-looking Easter eggs on there -- just in time for the upcoming holiday. (I hope the Easter Bunny knows about them!)
Intense Chocolate Brownies With Salted Caramel Puddles (adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe)
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Makes 35 brownies
5 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped or broken (I only had 85% and it worked out fine)
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (62% to 70%), chopped or chips
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sugar35 Hotel Chocolat salted caramel Puddles
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment, and spray with baking spray. (I prefer Bak-klene spray, available at Williams-Sonoma.)
Place unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate in top of double boiler, and set over simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted and smooth.
Remove from heat, and whisk in the melted butter. Let cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. (You can do this while the chocolate is melting if you like.)
Place eggs in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whip attachment. Keeping the mixer running on low speed, gradually add in the sugar, and continue beating until frothy and thick, about 1 minute.
Fold in the chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula.
Then fold in the flour mixture until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with the spatula.
Place Puddles on surface of batter, seven across and five down, spaced evenly.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, but start checking the brownies after 20 minutes. Do not overbake them! When you insert a toothpick in the brownies, pull it out at a very slight angle. The brownies are done when moist crumbs are attached to the toothpick. (At Flour, I'd have to bake 10 pans of brownies at a time, and I'd be constantly turning and checking them, making sure they baked evenly and just enough but not too much.)
Let cool completely for easiest cutting. If you're impatient like me, let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, and then use the parchment to lift the brownies out of the pan onto a cutting board.
Cut the brownies in squares, seven across and five down, making sure to get a puddle in each one. You'll need to wipe the knife off in between cuts if the brownies are still warm.
The brownies are best slightly warm but are still good (and super moist) days later.
What would you make with salted caramel Puddles?