These Small Batch Brownies stuffed with Salted Caramel Sauce are rich, fudgy and indulgent. With a crispy, shiny exterior, gooey inside and thick caramel centre, these brownies make a perfect small batch portion of six. Read on for my secret way to keep that thick caramel centre intact whilst baking.
Small batch recipes continue to be an ever-popular way of cooking for many reasons. You may live in a small family, you don't want to store any leftovers, or you like to try out many different bakes. If this is the case, you'll love my Dark Chocolate Walnut Blondies, Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins and my Gluten-Free Orange Almond Cake.
Amongst other small-batch bakes on my site, they join recipes on my Free E-book of Small Batch Desserts. Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter to receive that.
These Small Batch Brownies are everything you could want in the perfect brownies. I share a foolproof way to obtain that classic shiny, flakey top that we all love in classic brownies. The edges of these small batch brownies are crisp whilst the interior maintains a fudginess like no other.
I've taken them one step further and stuffed the brownies with a decadent layer of homemade salted caramel sauce. I mean, why not?! I share with you my top tip on how to maintain that caramel sauce so that once baked and cut into, the caramel oozes out. The caramel is totally optional but having tested these many times I strongly recommend it!!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Small Batch. Obviously a major drawcard of these is that they make 6 standard sized brownies. Sometimes we just don't want a huge serving.
- Deeply indulgent. There's no two ways about it, these take decadence to the max, but life is about balance and sometimes we gotta treat ourselves, am I right?!
- Perfect texture. If you love brownies that have a crisp outer top and a gooey fudgy interior, then these are hands down for you.
These Small Batch Brownies have two main components, the brownies themselves, but also the caramel sauce. I make caramel sauce from scratch and have a super detailed post on How To Make Homemade Caramel Sauce that you can refer to if you want to make your own. Homemade caramel sauce is far tastier than storebought, but I totally understand that sometimes we need to take shortcuts. I also provide notes below if you prefer to use store-bought.
Sugar - Use either granulated or caster sugar. Even golden granulated or golden caster sugar can be used. I've specified granulated here as it's more widely available, but out of the two I'll use the caster sugar because the granules are finer so it melts into liquid form that bit quicker.
Butter - Use use unsalted butter at room temperature.
Cream - Double or heavy cream is used to get that luxurious, full-bodied taste to the caramel. Like with the butter, it has to be at room temperature.
Vanilla bean paste - My preference is to use the paste as I feel the vanilla taste shines through more and seeing the little flecks of vanilla beans is always a treat. But use vanilla extract as an alternative if that is what you have on hand.
Flaked sea salt - Usually you would add flaked sea salt into the caramel sauce to create Salted Caramel Sauce, however, I prefer to use this salt over the top of the brownies once baked.
Storebought caramel sauce: If you prefer to buy your caramel sauce- top tip, buy the best quality that you can. In this recipe, I recommend freezing the caramel before baking (more on that in the next section), so that you get that gooey caramel centre after baking. Having not made this recipe with store-bought caramel, I don't know if the caramel will freeze. Try it! If it doesn't, still add the caramel but as the brownies bake, the caramel may bake into the batter. 100% still delicious!!
Small batch brownies
- Chocolate - Use as good a quality dark chocolate as you can get. When heroing an ingredient it really will make the difference. My preference is 70% dark chocolate.
- Butter - go for unsalted in this recipe as we add fine salt into the brownie batter but also sprinkle flaked salt onto the top.
- Sugar - Both white and light brown sugar are used. I specify granulated sugar in the ingredient list, but if you have caster sugar on hand then I recommend using that. It dissolves that bit quicker into the chocolate and butter. The light brown sugar helps with the fudginess of the brownies by adding moistiure.
- Eggs & Vanilla Extract - The single large egg helps to bind the ingredients together and the extra yolk add even more richness. The vanilla extract layers on the flavours within the brownies.
- Dry ingredients - Plain Flour, Cocoa Powder and salt. It's best to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder over natural cocoa powder as it helps in producing fudgier brownies. You can read more about the two different types of Cocoa Powder from an interesting article written by Cooks Illustrated. The perfect amount of flour - too much and they become cakey, too little and they'll be greasy. Fine salt in the brownie batter and flaked salt sprinkled over the top after baking brings out the flavour of chocolate but also balances the sweetness of the caramel.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
I recommend making the caramel sauce at least two hours before you make the brownies. You only need just over a quarter cup of the sauce, so once made, portion this out into a separate bowl for it to cool down quicker. Popping it into the fridge will make it cool down a lot quicker.
Freeze the caramel sauce (optional but recommended)
I have tried quite a few different ways of adding the caramel into the centre of the brownies, and I always find that during baking, the caramel heats up and liquefies, melting into the brownie batter. Once the brownies are baked and cooled, when you slice into them, there is no sign of the caramel (even though the taste is there.
My aim for these was to create an oozing caramel centre, and the only way I found this possible, was to freeze my homemade caramel sauce. This solidifies it enough so that when the frozen caramel is baked in the centre of the brownies, it thaws and then heats but doesn't melt out into the brownie batter.
As you can see, I have noted that this part is optional to do. If you don't fancy doing this step, when it comes time to add the caramel, simply drizzle it into the centre. I'll remind you later on!
1. Smooth the caramel onto parchment paper & freeze. Cut yourself a piece of parchment paper. If you need to, quickly mark with a pen around the outer edges of your baking pan. This ensures you spread the caramel to the right length. (Helps me anyway!) Lightly grease the baking paper. Dollop the caramel onto the paper and smooth it out with the back of the spoon. You don't want to make it to thin. Place the paper in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum. Longer if possible. (Image 1 & 2)
Make the brownies
2. Prep the pan and preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to standard 180C (350F). Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cmx14cm (9x5-inch) loaf pan. Ensure the baking paper overhangs the sides so that you can use it as a sling to lift the brownies out once they're baked (Image 3).
3. Melt butter and chocolate, then add in the sugar. In a bain-marie (bowl sat snuggly over a saucepan of simmering water, add the butter and chocolate. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water otherwise the chocolate will seize. Stir until the butter and chocolate have fully melted (Image 4 & 5).
With the bowl still set over the water, add the white and light brown sugar to the chocolate and stir for a minute (Image 6 & 7).
TIP: You can use the microwave for this step if you’d pref. Heat the butter and chocolate in 20-second increments in the microwave, stirring in between each burst. Continue until all the chocolate and butter has melted.
4. Add eggs. Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and using hand-held electric beaters, beat the chocolate and eggs until the mixture is visibly thicker and paler. When you lift the beaters out of the mixture, the batter forms a ribbon when falling off the beaters (Image 8 & 9).
TIP: Aerating the mixture.
Beating the mixture until it's thicker is basically adding air into the batter by beating the eggs until they are visibly aerated. During baking, a meringue-like layer rises to the surface of the brownies to create that shiny crackly top.
5. Sift in the dry ingredients. Sift into the bowl the flour, cocoa powder and salt and fold through. until a few streaks remain. This makes sure that you won't overmix it.
6. Add brownie batter and caramel to the pan and bake.
Dollop half of brownie batter into the loaf pan and level off (Image 12). Remove the parchment paper with the caramel on it from the freezer and peel away the paper.
Lay the frozen caramel onto the brownie batter (Image 13). (If using unfrozen caramel then this is the point to drizzle the caramel over the batter.)
Add the remaining brownie batter over the top of the caramel and level off with an offset spatula (Image 14).
Bake for 20 minutes until the edges are set but the centre has a slight jiggle. It's super important not to overbake the brownie otherwise you'll end up with a cakey texture. Don't stick a toothpick into the centre and expect it to come out clean. It will definitely be pulled out with moist batter on it!
Let cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then use the paper sling to lift out the brownies onto a wire rack. You can either enjoy them whilst they are still warm and gooey or place them in the fridge to then cut them into neat slices. Note though that even though you will still visibly see the caramel centre, the caramel will harden and won't be gooey. (10-seconds in the microwave will fix this though!)
Drizzle remaining caramel over brownies and sprinkle with flaked sea salt. My favourite way to enjoy these is with a scoop of vanilla bean or coffee ice cream. Or you could enjoy them with thick cream poured over the top (my eldest daughter's favourite way - she asked me specifically to note this option for you!)
- Caramel Sauce: Carnation Caramel is a popular brand to use, or find the best quality sauce that your store has.
- Nutella or peanut butter: These are two great alternatives to caramel sauce and the majority of us have these in our pantry. I have tried nutella and it is divine! I definitely do my freezer trick for both as I personally love seeing that distinctive centre.
- Nuts: Add in a ¼ cup of finely chopped nuts like walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or almonds for a wonderful nutty addition.
Pro tips re-cap
- Freeze the caramel. I love to visibly see and taste the caramel when I bite into it. The sure fire way to achieve this is to freeze the layer before laying it in the brownie. An optional step, but totally worth it in my opinion.
- Use a paper sling in the pan. There is nothing worse than going to unmould your brownie and it getting stuck in the base of the pan. The easiest and best way to prevent this is by allowing the paper to overhang the pan and to use it as a sling to lift the brownies with. Use this tip for all your bars and brownies.
- Aerate the mixture. For the sugar to dissolve and eggs to aerate, you need to beat the mixture for a decent amount of time. You'll know its ready when you lift out the beaters and a ribbon of batter runs off. You'll achieve the crispy shiny top with this technique.
- Don't overbake. The outside edges of the brownies need to be set but when you gently shake the pan there has to be a slight jiggle in the centre. The brownies will continue to bake when out of the oven.
Frequently asked questions
Whether you use dark at 70% or dark at 90% or even milk chocolate... your brownies will still turn out delicious. It’s a personal preference. I go in the middle with 70% as I find the sweetness of the sugar balances out the darkness of the chocolate. At 90%, the chocolate becomes too bitter for me.
You can use milk chocolate also but it will add to the sweetness. (No surprises that my kid's favourite brownies are those made with milk chocolate!)
Tip 1: Let them cool down completely and then refrigerate to set.
Tip 2: Cut with a hot, sharp knife. Dip the knife into hot water and then carefully wipe dry before slicing. For every cut, dip the knife into the water.
Absolutely. On the recipe card, just use the sliding scale to double the ingredient quantities. Follow the method as written. Freeze the caramel in two rectangular strips to then lay over each half of the brownie batter.
How to store and freeze
To store: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To freeze: Brownies freeze for up to 3 months. Wrap the squares individually in baking paper and then store them in an airtight container. Thaw a square overnight in the fridge and bring to room temp or microwave to make warm before serving.
Equipment you’ll need
- 2 lb lloaf pan (23x14cm/9x5.5inch): A standard loaf pan (often used to make banana bread) is the perfect size for these Small Batch Brownies to bake in.
- Hand-held beaters: Whipping air into the eggs and sugar is key to get the brownie top.
More Brownie and Bar recipes that you may like
- Fudgy S'mores Brownies
- Triple Chocolate Brownies
- Chocolate Cherry Brownies
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies
These Caramel stuffed Brownies create the perfect opportunity to curb your sweet chocolate cravings should they strike! If you love caramel as much as I do, check out these Dulce de leche Cupcakes, they are awesome!
If you tried these Small Batch Brownies stuffed with Caramel sauce or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Small Batch Brownies with Caramel Sauce Recipe
Caramel Sauce (you'll need 80g/¼ cup of caramel for these brownies)
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 80 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 160 g double cream (heavy cream), room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
- 100 g 70% dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
- 115 g unsalted butter
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 55 g light brown sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 85 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 20 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt
Make caramel sauce
- Heat the sugar until it melts. In a high-sided non-stick saucepan, heat the sugar over low heat, stirring often. It will go lumpy, but slowly those lumps will melt away into a liquid that will slowly turn golden. Once the sugar is in liquid form, stop stirring and swirl the liquid sugar while the colour changes to a lovely amber colour. Keep an eagle eye on it at this stage, as it can turn to burnt sugar very quickly. If the liquid is turning amber, but there are still lumps of sugar, then take the pan off the heat and keep swirling the liquid to give a chance for those lumps to melt.
- Add the butter. Carefully add the butter in one go. It will bubble up but whisk continuously until it has thoroughly melted. Then remove from the heat.
- Add the cream. Pour in the cream, but be careful as it will bubble up again, but keep whisking, and the bubbling will die down. Please return it to medium-low heat, occasionally stirring, so that the caramel can thicken. This takes around 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla. Remove from the heat, stir in vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly to combine.For the brownie recipe, you'll need 80g/¼ cup plus extra for drizzling. Pour this amount into a bowl and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes then refrigerate to speed up the cooling.(The remaining caramel can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.)
- Freeze the brownie caramel. Cut yourself a piece of parchment paper. If you need to, quickly mark with a pen around the outer edges of your baking pan. This ensures you spread the caramel to the right length. (Helps me anyway!) Lightly grease the baking paper. Dollop the caramel onto the paper and smooth it out with the back of the spoon. You don't want to make it too thin. Place the paper in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum. Longer if possible.
Make the brownies
- Prep the pan and preheat the oven. Remove from the heat, stir in vanilla extract and salt (to taste), and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease with butter and line a 2lb 23cmx14cm (9x5.5inch) baking pan with parchment paper. Leave an overhang on the sides so that it makes it easier to lift the brownies out afterwards.
- Melt butter and chocolate, then add in the sugar. Set a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Place the chocolate and butter into the bowl and stir until melted. Alternatively, place in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 10-second intervals stirring between bursts until melted. With the bowl still set over the water, add the white and light brown sugar to the chocolate and stir for a minute
- Add eggs. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture and using hand-held electric beaters, beat n medium to high for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened and aerated. When the beaters are lifted out of the mixture the mixture should form a ribbon on the surface.
- Sift in the dry ingredients. Sift into the bowl the flour, cocoa powder and salt and fold through until a few streaks remain. This makes sure that you won't overmix it.
- Add brownie batter and caramel to the pan and bake. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth flat with an offset spatula. Remove the parchment paper with the caramel from the freezer and peel off the paper. Lay the frozen caramel onto the batter. (If using unfrozen caramel then drizzle the caramel over the batter.) Spoon the remaining batter over the top of the caramel and smooth with an offset spatula.
- Bake brownies for 22-25 minutes until set around the edges but jiggly in the centre. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Use the parchment paper sling to gently lift the brownie out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool before cutting. Drizzle with remaining caramel over the brownies and sprinkle with flaked sea salt. (If the caramel is too stiff to pour, then microwave to heat it slightly to loosen it). Serve warm or refrigerate for 1 hour to get clean slices when cut.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.