Alright. I don’t condone excessive sugar intake, obviously, but if you’re going to do it … you might as well do it right. And trust me, this is doing it right.
To skip story time and go straight to the recipe, click here.
The idea for this recipe started floating around in my head when I found out my sister-in-law and her fiance were going to be coming over for dinner. He recently moved down to Virginia, so it’s kind of a big deal when he’s in town. I figured I had to do something big, and the only request I received was for chocolate. Anything chocolate.
I took to Pinterest, trying to find the best, craziest, most delicious-looking chocolate dessert I could find, but was disappointed! I scrolled through page after page of cupcakes, puddings, and cakes, and nothing sparked my interest. I finally decided I would just bake each of us individual little layer cakes, but I’m not at all confident in my cake-from-scratch baking abilities. I am, however, confident in my brownie-from-scratch abilities!
This dessert combines all of my favorite things: thick chocolate brownies, homemade caramel, and creamy ganache, dolloped with a generous plop of whipped cream. Are you drooling yet? I am.
I had a little snaffoo to deal with when making these, however. I left my darling husband alone with my cooling pan of brownies for ten minutes. Ten minutes. And I can back to this:
Sigh. He thought I was making a trifle and that I’d be crumbling up the brownies. He felt bad once I told him I actually needed an in-tact pan of brownies! That didn’t turn out to be an issue, however.
Between the homemade caramel and homemade ganache, this recipe may look a tad overwhelming … but just trust me. Caramel and ganache are so easy to make, yet so impressive.
Advice for Making Caramel
Despite what some recipes may say, you do not need a candy thermometer. Caramel is not an involved, complicated process at all and is almost impossible to mess up. The only time I messed up the caramel I was making, I ended up with these tiny crunchy pieces in the caramel (like the ones that used to come on the Caramel Crunch frappes at Starbucks) and everyone thought I did it on purpose because it turned out so well. Don’t freak out.
If you want thicker caramel, let it boil a bit longer after it’s all mixed together. Don’t forget that it will thicken up considerably once it cools, so keep that in mind.
Advice for Making Ganache
Making ganache is even easier than making caramel. Seriously. All it is is heated cream poured on top of chocolate and mixed. If you let the cream cool to about 95 degrees F after it’s been poured on the chocolate, it blends a lot better.
Want it to thicken up? Put it in the fridge for a hot sec. Want it pourable again? Stick it in the microwave for 10-ish seconds and it’ll melt up real nice. If it starts to separate, use electric beaters to whip it back into shape. Nice ‘n’ easy.
- 3 cups white sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- splash of vanilla
- 12 oz. dark baking chocolate
- 12 oz. heavy whipping cream
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 15" x 18" walled cookie sheet.
- Mix the dry ingredients well, sifting if desired.
- Melt the butter and mix it along with the eggs and vanilla into the dry ingredients.
- Mix well, pour into the cookie sheet, and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the middle of the brownies no longer jiggle when you move the pan.
- Let cool completely.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the brown sugar, stirring constantly.
- If the mixture is still runny, add the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
- Stir the mixture constantly until the sugar has melted completely.
- Pour in the heavy cream carefully, stirring constantly. It may bubble.
- Turn the heat up to high and let the caramel boil for 1-3 minutes, stirring constantly so the bottom does not burn.
- Remove caramel from the heat and let cool.
- Break half of the chocolate into chunks and place it in a glass bowl.
- Microwave 6 oz. of heavy cream for 3-4 minutes or until it boils.
- Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5-7 minutes, or until the cream reaches around 95 degrees F.
- Whisk the cream and chocolate together until smooth and creamy, making sure to whisk in the same direction. This may take some time.
- Set aside and let firm up a bit.
- Repeat these steps to make the second batch of ganache after the layers have been put together, placing the chocolate and cream in the same bowl as any remaining ganache.
- Using a glass that is the width you'd like your "cakes" to be, trace and cut circles in multiples of 3. You can mash together remaining brownie bits into extra layers if you'd like.
- Place the first layer of each "cake" on a same-size piece of wax paper, leaving a small tab sticking out.
- Smooth a spoonful of caramel over the brownie layer.
- Smooth a spoonful of ganache over the caramel layer.
- Immediately place the next brownie later on top and repeat until each "cake" has 3 layers.
- If desired, smooth caramel over the entire surface area.
- Place the "cakes" on a metal grate or cooling rack and cool them in the fridge.
- Make the second batch of ganache, making sure to include any leftovers from the first batch.
- Place the cooling rack over a pan to catch any dripping ganache, and pour the ganache over each "cake," making sure to completely cover them.
- Place the cooling rack in the oven and pour any ganache caught by the pan back in with the rest of the ganache.
- Repeat until all the ganache is gone.
- Top each "cake" with whipped cream, extra caramel, pecans, or anything else you'd like and enjoy!
- I initially wanted to make candied pecans and include some between each layer as well as on top, but I didn't have time. This would make these even better!
- The brownie recipe is adapted from I Am Baker. Link below.
Here is the original brownie recipe, which I am 100% saving as my go-to from now on.
Let me know how these turn out for you! There’s really no way to mess them up, so enjoy the rare treat of me enabling way too much sugar consumption! You’ll definitely feel its effects in the morning.
But hey, it’s so worth it.
What’s your go-to dessert to impress? Let me know in the comments!