Chocolate Caramel Almond Crunch Brownies

Sweet or salty? Chocolate or caramel? What's a baker to choose? Happily, this recipe combines all of these flavors into one amazing, decadent, satisfying treat so you can have all of your favorites in one bite. Choose your favorite brownie recipe, melt some chocolate, add some nuts, smoky salt and you are ready for a trip to Nirvana!

Recipe updated March 8, 2018; see "tips," below, for details.

Prep
50 mins
Bake
25 to 35 mins
Total
1 hr 15 mins
Yield
One 9" x 13" pan of iced brownies, about 24 servings
Chocolate Caramel Almond Crunch Brownies

Instructions

  1. To make the Almond Crunch Topping: Combine the melted chocolate with the almonds. Stir gently until nuts are well coated. Spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the Demerara sugar and the smoked salt. Break any overly large salt crystals up with your fingers as you sprinkle.

  2. Set the tray of sugared/salted chocolate nuts aside to firm up. Once the chocolate is firm, crush the topping by pulsing in a food processor, or in a zip-top bag with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

  3. Make a 9" x 13" pan of your favorite brownies. Fudgy, cakey, or in between, whatever you wish. A sturdy chocolate cake will also work well for this recipe. Bake and cool completely.

  4. To make the Browned Butter Caramel Icing: Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue to cook the butter until the milk solids begin to brown and the butter turns a golden color. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let the butter cool briefly (to about 275°F, if you have a thermometer).

  5. Add the brown sugar and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

  6. Add the milk and vanilla, stirring until smooth.

  7. Pour the mixture into the bowl of your mixer.

  8. Beating on low speed, add the confectioners' sugar in stages. Increase the speed to high and beat until the icing is lighter in color and texture. The icing will have a satiny feel, not fluffy like buttercream, and will still be slightly warm to the touch.

  9. Spread the icing on the brownies and top with the almond crunch topping, pressing it down gently into the icing. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

  10. Store the brownies, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you don't use the frosting right away and it stiffens up, don't panic; simply beat it until it softens again, then spread it on the brownies.
  • As a result of reader feedback, we've amended the technique for making the icing: it's much simpler and more failsafe now, which should result in greater success.
  • Baking gluten-free? Start with a pan of gluten-free brownies. We like the gluten-free version of our Fudge Brownies. But if you're using your own favorite brownie recipe, make it gluten-free by substituting King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the all-purpose flour called for; no other changes needed.