I actually did another version of this recipe a few months ago, where I pureed fresh strawberries and added it to the salted caramel. They were delicious, but the strawberry flavor wasn’t as prominent as I would have liked it to be. After daydreaming and experimenting a few more times, I think I finally came up with the best version so far – instead of pureeing the strawberries and adding to the salted caramel, I left the strawberries whole and roasted them separately. I also didn’t add them to the caramel, but instead added them directly to the brownie batter so they would hold their shape and be distinguishable in the final product. Roasting the strawberries removes some of the moisture from the fruit so the texture of the brownie doesn’t become watery. It also concentrates the strawberry flavor. Mmmm!
And FYI – they’re effing delicious.
There are many a step in this recipe, but I promise each step is super easy and totally worth it. At its most basic, the steps are:
Roast the strawberries.
Make caramel while strawberries are roasting.
Make brownie batter while caramel chills and strawberries cool down.
Put it all together and bake.
So, let’s start with the strawberries.
While the strawberries are roasting, start on the salted caramel:
While the caramel is chilling and the strawberries are cooling (you should have taken those out of the oven by now), start on the brownie batter.
- for roasted strawberries
- 1 lb strawberries, hulled and halfed
- 1/8 cup vanilla sugar (or regular sugar + 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- for caramel
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 heaping teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 3 tbsp heavy cream, room temperature
- for brownies
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 heaping teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- for the roasted strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Rinse, hull and half strawberries. In a bowl, combine strawberries with vanilla sugar or sugar + vanilla extract. Place on baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast for 40 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
- for the caramel
- In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt sugar; this will take about 5 minutes, stirring if necessary to break up large chunks. By the time it is all melted, if should be a nice copper color; if not, cook until it is. Remove from heat and stir in butter. It may not incorporate entirely but do your best. Stir in cream and salt. Return saucepan to the stove over medium-high heat, bringing it back to a simmer and melted again any sugar that solidified. Cook bubbling strawberry caramel for a few minutes more, until it is a shade darker and sauce has reduced slightly.
- Pour out onto parchment-covered plate and transfer plate to your freezer until solid - about 40 minutes.
- When caramel is almost done chilling, start the brownie batter.
- for the brownie
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.
- add in the caramel
- When caramel is solid, remove it from the freezer. Cut caramel into 1" pieces and add half of the pieces into the batter, stirring very gently to combine. Scrape brownie batter into prepared pan, spreading until mostly even. Top with roasted strawberries - poking a few of the strawberries down and covering them with a bit of batter. Top with the remaining chunks of salted caramel.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. It's a little tricky because the caramel makes this extra gooey, so a toothpick may not come out completely clean. As long as it's not dripping in batter when you do a poke test, they should set up nicely, as they'll continue to cook for a bit outside of the oven as well. Let cool to room temperature before cutting (or don't, no one's watching). Sometimes I let the pan cool slightly then place it in the fridge to set up for about 30 minutes.