Dark Chocolate Brownies with Toasted Walnuts and Salted Caramel Glaze

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Espresso, Toasted Walnuts and Salted Caramel Glaze

May 10, 2011

I seem to have food magazines everywhere. Bedroom, bathroom, foyer table, family room and or course kitchen…really, just everywhere. Sometimes they’ve been around long enough I see past them and that’s surely the case with the one where I got the basics for this absolutely decadent brownie. Food and Wine, July 2010. It had been forced into play on my bed as a surface for my laptop mouse (I am stubborn…a touch pad is not my friend, I SO prefer a mouse) and the other night I actually glanced inside the magazine a bit.

This issue included Food and Wine magazine’s ‘Best New Chefs’ and ‘Italian Restaurant Dishes Made Easy’. I have to assume when I received it last year that I went straight to one of those articles because I never saw the one on ‘The Year of the Pastry Chef’ and I’ve always loved making all things pastry. I’ve learned to accept that the results in Denver might tend to visually disappoint me more than I like (more on that in a bit!) but I don’t stop; making and bringing desserts to friends is one of my all time favorite things.

The original recipe is from Anne Quatrano from ‘Star Provisions’ in Atlanta and her version had only three pertinent flavors: chocolate, butter and walnuts. I decided to up the espresso flavor just a bit with some Kahlua and when all was said and done…it just seemed to literally cry out for some caramel. It was so dark chocolate intense that I wanted something to play against that and who doesn’t love caramel and of course the flavor du jour…salted caramel. I added a touch of salt to the caramel but also topped it with some Maldon salt flakes. If you are using salt as a finish on any of your foods; you really need to get some Maldon, it is so pretty! I also increased the walnuts to 2 cups…I’m tired of adding what is specified but seeing a photo that makes it apparent way more were actually included…that was the case here. Two cups was the right call. And don’t skip the toasting. Before toasted walnuts I was not quite the believer. Now…my favorite nut; yes I am California Walnutz!

My first experience with the flavor combination of chocolate, espresso and salted caramel was actually at a local Starbucks in the beautiful Aspen Grove shopping center several years ago. I had ordered coffee but my daughter Emily decided to try the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Oh my. My coffee was suddenly beyond mundane so I ordered one too but asked if I could have it with a shot of espresso and a love affair had begun.

This is a rich, rich brownie. Did I say rich? A pound of butter and the serving suggestion is 12 rectangles? Although the caramel layer adds some more butter, I fully expect to get at least double the serving pieces than what is suggested.

Though terrific with coffee or milk, I plan to have some friends over for dessert and serve it with some port wine. I just LOVE port with deep rich chocolate desserts and this fits that description to an absolute T. And that hint about high altitude ‘issues’ ? I did what I normally do. Increased oven temp 10 degrees and shortened cooking time; eliminated a bit of flour and baking powder and added more moisture (an excuse for the Kahlua for sure!). Still…it looked a bit like a big sink hole, the sides had risen more than the center section. So that caramel sauce became my friend. I took a chef’s knife to the outside; leveling off the pan before pouring the caramel over everything. Turns out it needed the caramel in more ways than one!

By the way, getting closer to my big project of re-branding…well, ME! Everything will be Creative Culinary; this blog, Twitter, FaceBook, StumbleUpon and RSS feed and well…everything. What a job this has been but I think at some point I just have to pull the plug so hoping my next post will be the big announcement that the site is ready (or ready enough). I could use a lot of crossed fingers and toes; this is undeniably NERVEWRACKING. But I remain happy I’m doing it. The full story of the why’s and wherefores will follow but suffice to say I won’t mind never saying the words again, ‘No, I’m really not a wine blog.’

I hope you will stay tuned!

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Espresso, Toasted Walnuts and Salted Caramel Glaze
Prep time
Total time
A decadent brownie with espresso, Kahlua and toasted walnuts finished with a salted caramel glaze
For the Brownies:
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, use chips or chop larger pieces (The bittersweet keeps the brownie from being too sweet; perfect with a sweet glaze but semi sweet can be substituted)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp Kahlua
  • 2 Tbsp strong-brewed espresso
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • 2 cups walnut halves, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped - Don't skip toasting them, makes all the difference.
For the Salted Caramel Glaze:
  • ½ cup half and half or heavy cream (Most recipes call for heavy cream which I seldom have on hand. Half and half works just fine)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut in pieces
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2-3 tsp Maldon Flaked Sea Salt
To Make the Brownies:Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
  1. In a double boiler, melt the butter with the chopped chocolate over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  2. Beat the eggs with the sugar at medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.
  3. Beat in the Kahlua, vanilla and espresso. Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
  4. Beat in the melted chocolate and butter mixture at medium speed. Using a spoon, stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  6. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the top is shiny and lightly cracked, the edges are set and the center is still a bit jiggly.
  7. NOTE 1: At altitude I have to increase oven temp a bit and then shorten cooking time but I suggest that even at sea level you start checking early. I took this out at 45 minutes and am so glad I did; start checking at 50 minutes to make sure it does not get over-baked.
  8. NOTE 2: Though I occasionally will discuss altitude issues, I always include ingredients for what we call, 'flatlanders' in Denver, so unless you are also at a higher altitude the specifications here work for the majority of people.
  9. Transfer the dish to a rack and let cool completely.
  10. Pour the caramel glaze over the brownies and smooth into a thin layer.
  11. Sprinkle with the Maldon salt and allow glaze to cool.
  12. Cut the brownie into 12 large rectangles and serve. (I say 24 but hey...it's up to YOU!)
To Make the Caramel Sauce and finish the Brownies:
  1. In small saucepan over low heat, warm heavy cream but do not boil.
  2. In separate medium saucepan, combine sugar & water but DO NOT STIR. Place over medium-high heat & bring to a boil. Cook until mixture turns an amber color; watch closely, it can quickly go from the perfect color to burning! (10+ minutes); keep a close watch on it.)
  3. Once mixture is amber, remove from heat and add warm cream, butter, and ½ t. kosher salt.
  4. Stir gently using a whisk until smooth & well combined. Pour over brownies, tilting the pan to coat. Sprinkle with Maldon salt or more kosher salt.
  5. Allow glaze to set before cutting/serving.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 12-16 Servings

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Annette July 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I made these tonight and encountered a few issues.

1. The recipe makes a lot of batter, almost too much batter for a 9 x 13 pan. The brownies rose up over the top of the pan quite a bit while baking but eventually came back down. I used a standard Pyrex glass 9 x 13 pan.

2. I baked them for 60 minutes at 350 degrees and the brownies came out under-baked but the sides and corners had began to burn.

3. Not sure my caramel glaze came out correctly. The caramel began to firm up quickly so I was unable to tilt the pan around to coat the brownies; had to spread with a spatula. After cooling completely, the caramel had a crumbly behavior to it. Is that how it should be? Admittedly this was my first time making caramel.

Wanted to share my experience with others. If anyone has any insight into what went wrong with baking or the caramel, please share. Thanks.


2 Creative Culinary July 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Annette, I’m so sorry you had problems; I can’t explain the issue with the batter although I know others who have made them without a problem. I have to alter my recipe a bit because I’m at high altitude so it’s hard for me to know…maybe someone else will jump in who has made them successfully. If you used a glass Pyrex dish, I do think that some recipes suggest altering the oven temp a bit…I believe downward by 25 degrees. It does sound like the sides may have risen faster from the increased heat conductivity of the glass?

I think the caramel may have seized and/or cooked a bit too long as well. That texture of which you speak can happen if some of the sugar crystals that form on the side of the pan interfere with the cooking process. It’s why caramel is not stirred during the process; even though some recipes might suggest you wash the sides down with water during cooking to keep those particles included in the mix, I just usually let it just bubble up and cook without touching it.

I am so sorry you had issues…it’s been such a favorite. Wondering now…would you try it again?


3 Annette July 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Thanks for the reply and insight. I may give the recipe another try. The flavor of the brownies was great – just needed to be baked more in my opinion.

I definitely want to give the caramel glaze another try. I think you are correct about the sugar crystals forming on the side of the pan. I will be more mindful of that when I try again. I believe I cooked it too long (too hot) as well. It came out more like toffee than caramel.


4 Creative Culinary July 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm

That’s probably the case…you want to remove it as soon as it starts to turn a deeper color…it will continue cooking even in that time from stove to pan!


5 Chrissy Morin June 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Oh MY! This looks fantastic! A Little like the salted caramel squares at Starbucks that we tweeted about awhile back.. have you managed to recreate those yet? Gonna have to try these for Father’s Day!


6 Creative Culinary June 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I think these are better than the one I had at Starbucks so I’ll stick with them instead…let me know if you do make them what you think Chrissy.


7 sweetsugarbelle June 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

Heaven…I’m in Heaven!


8 Laura Brown May 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

My husband and I made these today and OMG THEY ARE SO GOOD!!! Perfect instructions! Thank you for being so thorough all the time! :-)


9 Barbara May 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

So glad you enjoyed them and one time my sort of OCD attention to detail worked? Whew.


10 Maureen May 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I found your page from the photo on Food Porn! OMG these look so good. I’ve got droolage all over the keyboard and I can’t wait to finish this comment and hit the print button and head to the kitchen. These look fantastic!


11 Barbara May 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Thank you…there were well received in-house for sure and by some readers who made them. Please let me know how you liked them, OK?


12 Shelby May 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Oh my goodness, do these ever look (and sound!) sinfully good! A definite marker going on this page for these! I’ll have to find a special occasion to make them!


13 Janet Rudolph @ DyingforChocolate May 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

That caramel glaze adds a whole other dimensions to these already rich brownies. Yum!


14 Barbara May 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I know…it was like, well, they are already so decadent…how can it hurt? Thanks for stopping by.


15 Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) May 18, 2011 at 6:05 am

These look truly awesome. So sinfully decadent. Bookmarked to try!


16 Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen May 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

The new site looks FABULOUS!! And of course the brownies are to die for! Salted caramel and espresso, I’m in love.


17 kim sisto robinson May 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I just gained 3 pounds.
These brownies look like a big fat SIN !!!!


18 Lora @cakeduchess May 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Barb-Oh my goodness! Why aren’t you right next door?!? These brownies look so good and your photos are stunning! Port too! I’m coming to visit you:)xx


19 Hailey @ Nakedcupcakes May 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

These are amazing, addicting, and everything that is right with the world! Mmm
Thank you for posting these, and introducing me to the pure beauty that us chocolate + salted caramel :)


20 Holly May 13, 2011 at 8:03 am

I LOVE IT!!! So excited for you!

Oh, and if I had one of those brownies it wouldn’t be enough, then I’d have to make two desserts because I wouldn’t share :)

Love you lady! Congrats on the switch.


21 Barbara May 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I’m excited and nervous but ready to pull the plug and just be done with it. Keeping up two blogs is killing moi!


22 Tickled Red May 12, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Have I told you lately how much I adore you :) Can you tell that I am buttering you up so that you’ll share some brownies with me? This just looks crazy good!!

And your new site rocks love :) Congrats!!


23 Barbara May 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Butter away baby!


24 Karen Harris May 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

My husband is a mouse person too. To touch pad or not to touch pad, it is an ongoing debate in our house. Your brownies are a work of art. I just can’t resist salted caramel especially when perched upon a gooey brownie.


25 Amanda May 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Wow those look positively decadent Barbara! I attempted a salted caramel brownie once that swirled the caramel inside and they just wouldn’t set. Too much caramel, but wow they tasted great. I bet these are amazing!


26 Barbara May 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

This really was a glaze Amanda…so it was thin and setup semi hard. I had to freeze them. I kept trying ‘just one more.’


27 Kate from Scratch May 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Best idea ever…espresso in the salted caramel hot chocolate? Why didn’t I think of that?! Fantastic. I want some of these….immediately.


28 Lana May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

My girls have been hounding me to make them brownies. And then I see this. And I avoid looking at your post, humming happily, whistling, biding my time… But I had to come back and delve into it. Who can say NO to these?
My girls are into baking, and anything chocolate will get their creative and baking juices going. Now I have to be really sly and let them discover this recipe on their own:)
BTW, I am glad I am not the only one who despises the touch pad. I have a mousse pad, but I also use magazines:) We need a support group:) With a lot of wine. And we’ll invite Kim:)
Looking forward to seeing the new site!


29 Cookin' Canuck May 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Oh my, Barb. Those brownies are a thing of beauty. You have the right idea about washing them down with a glass of port.


30 Dan May 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

Wow.. what a great sweet and salty dessert. Don’t let Starbucks see this and ruin it.


31 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Hehe…yes, made me LOL; I’ll keep them my secret Dan!


32 Annalise May 11, 2011 at 10:19 am

YUM. I so wish I could reach through my computer screen and grab a slice. That caramel glaze looks amazing!


33 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I kid that I’ve been working on a Twitter food delivery system…but so far only got so far as crumbs on a keyboard. #FAIL


34 kellypea May 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

I’m laughing over the food mags being everywhere AND overlooked because that’s exactly my problem as well. I do like my trackpad, however. Yummy brownies — it’s the frosting I’m intrigued by. Sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to see the “new” you…


35 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I sort of never see them or cookbooks and then someone will come in and notice. Someone the other day said, ‘Are you getting rid of all of these cookbooks?’ about a pile I had been looking through. NO…I never get rid of them; might need a separate room for them though!


36 Yuri May 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

These brownies look AMAZING, Barb! Love the wine glass in the first photo :) I have the same problem with cookbooks and magazines: I keep getting them even though I have nowhere to put them. Hi, my name is Yuri and I’m a hoarder!


37 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:35 am

I’m not typically a hoarder but as I look at the baskets and ‘artful’ piles of magazines I have to admit…maybe a bit. I just recently caved and got rid of 30 years of Bon Appetit magazine. Was painful but with everything now online…just didn’t make sense anymore. Ouch.


38 Jenny May 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

These look absolutely fantastic, Barb! Salted caramel, rich chocolate, nuts… Mmmm. Port sounds like a wonderful pairing. Also, I so appreciate your honesty about the high-altitude struggles and how to make the best of unexpected (or are they expected, really?) results. It’s our trade off for these gorgeous mountain views.

Best of luck with your rebranding venture! I’m sure it will be a great success.


39 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:33 am

It’s a constant struggle isn’t it; but I like to share how I resolve things too; thinking it’s helpful because you know only too well, it’s going to happen sometimes no matter how we try to circumvent it. Baking at altitude is simply a challenge; sometimes in figuring out how to get it right in the mix…and sometimes how to fix it if it’s not!


40 megan @ whatmegansmaking May 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

beautiful pictures! I want to eat it right off the screen! :)


41 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

Thank you Megan. I was happy and FoodGawker was happy. Not often we agree if you know what I mean. :)


42 Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon May 11, 2011 at 6:31 am

Barbara, now that I’m reading the recipe, these are very similar to Ina’s Brownies I made over the weekend…sans the fantastic salted caramel glaze. FYI, bake them in a half sheet pan instead of a 9×13 and you’ll get smaller portions and more brownies out of the batch.


43 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

I cut them into more of a large piece of candy size. They are so rich that only a couple of bites really do satisfy. I’ll try the sheet pan next time; great idea.


44 Ken│hungry rabbit May 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm

This is a very seductive recipe. How can you say no to these beauties. Congrats on your hard work toward a new you.


45 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

I can’t. Which is why they’re frozen; I’ll save them for a group event and get some help depleting leftovers. It’s the only way!


46 Nelly Rodriguez May 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Barbara, these look sooo sinful! I LOVE it! :) Coffee,Chocolate, Caramel, Salt!? Yes Please! I bet these would ship perfectly ;)


47 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:25 am

Then I must confess, I have sinned. But not much; all leftovers now wrapped tightly and in freezer. Way too tempting for me not to do that!


48 Brian @ A Thought For Food May 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

These are totally making me drool! What a wonderful, decadent dessert this is!


49 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:24 am

The only word I can think of that truly fits…decadent they are!


50 Maris (In Good Taste) May 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

These looks absolutely scrumptious! The perfect brownie!


51 Kim May 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Keeping fingers and toes crossed for you!! (Why on Earth did you say YES to me today???? Hope you’re almost done with your re-brand.)

You want to know something sad? The July 2010 F&W issue at my house is probably still in the basket by the front door… unopened…. because I’m still working through 2009. True story.

Look forward to the “new and improved you!”


P.S. Salted caramel has GOT to be one of my Top 10 foods. Smear it over a brownie? Even better.


52 Creative Culinary May 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

Cause I have to keep myself afloat with business to enjoy the privilege of having this blog? Yeah…that’s it! I’m excited about helping with your website venture Kim, can’t wait to see the process in action.


53 An Alaskan Cooks | Alaska Food and Wine May 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Oh. My. Goodness. Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe those brownies. Normally I’m not a big fan of caramel, but this is one recipe that warrants an exception to my no-caramel rule. Thanks for sharing!


54 knitstamatic May 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Oh my word! These brownies look beyond decadent. I jsut want to take a bite out of my monitor! Best of luck on your re-brand.


55 Barbara Bakes May 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Fun to see the finished brownies. Now I’m craving them. I SO prefer a mouse too. I’ll look forward to the new site. Good luck!


56 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Then my work is done. First the marketing, then the sale. :)


57 Delishhh May 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm

WOW – these look absolutely amazing!!! YUM!


58 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Thank you…and thanks for the YUM; though often considered overdone, nothing quite says it sometimes does it. I love yum! :)


59 Ally Lynn May 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

WOW. Can these get any more decadent?

These brownies look FANTASTIC and I’ll probably be trying them soon. Thanks for sharing!


60 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Thank you Ally…and if I think about it I have to say? No…how get they be more decadent? Ice cream if you want to stretch it, huh?


61 Lea Ann May 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I’m with Toni – obscene! I love Food and Wine and for some reason missed this one. As always, beautiful photo.


62 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Thank you…coming from my not typically sweet eating friend it means even more!


63 Paula May 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Decadent is not the word for these beauties! You can tell by your wonderful photograph just how moist and chewy these brownies are. To have topped them off with salted caramel is genius! Enjoy your gathering and enjoy your port and dessert!

P.S. I’m sure your rebranding will be wonderful and without a glitch.


64 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Thanks Paula for the nice comment and the vote of support; means a lot.


65 Boulder Locavore May 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Barb, this is obscene. One should have to have a license to make it….and eat it….and drive AFTER eating it. Beautiful photos.


66 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Thanks Toni…on all accounts. When my friend Jenn makes a GF version; I’ll have to let you know!


67 Jennifer May 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

These brownies look amazing! I want them now. And you serving them with a delicious port sounds like totally the right call. There’s really nothing better with port than dark chocolate.

Can’t wait for the new blog update. If it’s anything like Vino Luci, I’m sure it’ll be awesome!


68 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Kind of my thinking…Chocolate, port and good friends. Perfect end to my evening.


69 foodwanderings May 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Barb, wow nice to see what you were talking about on twitter. This brownie is a zap and burst of flavor. I would probably take a insy winsy bite and linger on the flavors, then will take one more &…till it was done with and gone! Gorgeous!!


70 Adryon May 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I gotta say. I’ve been in bed with a migraine all day and finally have an appetite. Now I need these and I won’t be happy until I get my grubby paws on a batch.


71 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Aw…wish I could just hand you one…feel better soon.


72 Jenn May 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I’m so making a gluten free version of this. Man, I want these RIGHT NOW…. Gorgeous. In every way.


73 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Now wishing I could ship you something Jenn…when you make a GF version let me know; would love to link to it, OK?


74 Kimmy @ Lighter and Local May 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I have no words.


75 Creative Culinary May 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Me either.


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