Salted toffee brownies

Salted toffee or caramel brownies
Ok, so I’ll be the first to admit that this recipe isn’t going to win any brownie (seewhatIdidthere?) points for originality – the combination of sea salt and caramel or toffee, essentially sweet and salty, is not going to be a revelation to you. However, this is what I’ve been baking lately and goddammit if it isn’t delicious, so it feels only fair to share the recipe in case you’re in need of a ridiculously indulgent treat. Because that’s exactly what this is, and it will satisfy any chocolate cravings instantly.

Last month we were given a joint birthday hamper filled with some amazing goodies, including this toffee crème:
Toffee creme
(There’s also a mocha crème that we haven’t opened yet, which I think shows incredible restraint. When that day comes….uhhhhhh.)

Anyway, this. Is. The. Bomb. It’s brilliant on top of vanilla ice cream, and obviously it can be eaten straight out the jar with a teaspoon (been there, done that), but I thought I’d have a go at using it in some baking, and salted brownies was the obvious answer. This recipe is based on the best brownie recipe ever. Of course, you don’t need to have this particular product to make the recipe – you could use any caramel or toffee that you already have or can find in the shops, as long as it’s soft enough to swirl through the brownie mix.

One year ago:
Chocolate fondant
Rhubarb curd and rhubarb cordial

Two years ago:
Banana bread
Triple chocolate cheesecake
Slow cooked BBQ pulled pork
Ingredients for salted caramel brownies
Ingredients (makes about 16 brownies)
190g dark chocolate
190g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
115g plain flour
½ tsp sea salt flakes, plus a few extra pinches for the top
3 or 4 tbsp of toffee crème (or other toffee/caramel product!)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 20x20cm baking tin with a knob of butter and line it with baking parchment, leaving a little paper hanging over two of the sides – this will make it much easier to lift the brownie out at the end.
Greasing and lining a baking tray for brownies
2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a pan with the butter. Cook over a very gentle heat until everything is completely melted, then leave off the heat for about 5-10 minutes to cool a little.
Butter and dark chocolate to be melted
Melted dark chocolate and butter
Melted dark chocolate and butter
3. Whisk together the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract, then pour in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and mix well.
Eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract
Beating together the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract
Mixing the wet ingredients together
4. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and, if you’re lazy like me and can’t be bothered sieving it, give it a quick whisk to aerate the flour and remove any lumps.
Whisking plain flour and salt
5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
Adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
Brownie mix
6. Spoon the brownie batter into the lined tin and spread out evenly.
Pouring the brownie mix into the lined baking tray
7. Dollop teaspoons of your chosen toffee or caramel around the top of the brownie and swirl gently with a skewer. Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of sea salt flakes.
Adding spoons of toffee cream to the brownie mix
Swirling caramel through the brownie mix
Sprinkling the brownies with Maldon sea salt flakes
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and cracking on top, but still squidgy in the middle. Remove from the tin using the handy excess pieces of baking parchment and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Brownies out the oven ready to cool
Enjoy with a big glass of cold milk and a satisfied groan.
Salted toffee or caramel brownies
Salted toffee or caramel brownies

Sea salt and brandy truffles

Gift box of homemade sea salt and brandy truffles
Truffles and Christmas go together like Batman and Robin. Or peanut butter and jam. Or gin, tonic and sunshine. They’re the perfect treat to have around the house over the Christmas holidays, but they also make a lovely present for someone special, and they’re surprisingly straightforward to make (once you master the rolling!). Even better, they can be customised so that they are totally unique to you. I think the flavourings in these ones work particularly well with dark chocolate, with a hit of festive brandy and the odd burst of sea salt, but orange zest and Cointreau would be gorgeous, as would coconut-rum truffles rolled in desiccated coconut, or even sea salt and peanut butter truffles.
Ingredients for homemade sea salt and brandy truffles
Ingredients (makes about 20-25 truffles)
150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
150ml double cream
25g butter
Pinch of sea salt flakes
Brandy
Cocoa powder

Method
1. Finely chop the dark chocolate into as small pieces as you can – you could also pop it in a food processor if you have one.
Chopped dark chocolate for sea salt and brandy truffles
Tip into a large bowl.
Chopped dark chocolate ready to add cream and butter
2. Heat the cream until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it has melted.
Adding butter to the simmering double cream
3. Slowly pour the cream and butter over the chocolate, whisking continually until you have a smooth mixture.
Adding cream and butter to the chopped chocolate
Plain truffle mix
4. Add a generous pinch of sea salt, and enough brandy to taste. To be honest, my first batch didn’t quite have the hit of Christmas booze that I was hoping for (I had used 4 tsp of brandy) – the alcohol flavour was too subtle, so next time I’ll add at least 6 tsp. However, you can adjust this entirely to your own preference – taste after adding each tsp since you can always add more but you can’t take it back out!
Flavouring the truffle mix with sea salt and brandy
5. Chill in the fridge overnight until the mixture is solid. Sieve a few dessert spoons of coca powder onto a large plate (you do need to sieve it as cocoa powder tends to have a few lumps in it) and get another large plate ready for the truffles.
Preparing to shape the truffles
6. Now comes the hardest part, since the truffle mixture can seem really difficult to work with. The trick is to have your hands as cold as possible! Believe me, it’s a revelation. I was running my hands under cold water in between every one or two truffles and they rolled up so much easier. Use a teaspoon to break up the chocolate and then roll a small amount of mixture into a rough ball.
Shaping the sea salt and brandy truffles
7. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder (or icing sugar, or chocolate sprinkles, or desiccated coconut, or finely chopped pistachios…) and place on a clean plate. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Shaped sea salt and brandy truffles
These can be stored in the fridge for a good 3-5 days (or even longer in the freezer), or box them up and proudly present them to their recipient. Serve in the afternoon for unexpected guests or after dinner with a strong coffee.
Homemade sea salt and brandy truffles served with coffee
I hope you all enjoy the next week of festive fun…only 6 sleeps til Christmas!