Calling all salty-and-sweet fans, these brownies are the hot ticket.
Fudgy, caramely, dense and rich with crunch factor. Something for everyone.
The brownies are as fast and easy as using a boxed mix, and the brownie batter is whisked together in one bowl in minutes.
The brownies are the epitome of dark, rich, and fudgy and are the chocolate version of these Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies, which have always been popular with readers.
They’re like Turtle brownies with pretzels instead of nuts.
For the brownie base, I used an old standby recipe that delivers consistently fudgy results, minus any fuss.
And they’re not at all cakey, which would be a total deal-breaker for me. I want my brownies dense like a slab of fudge. Cakes need not apply.
The ironic part of these ultra-fudgy, rich brownies is that the recipe uses cocoa powder, not melted chocolate. I used to think that cocoa powder brownies were inferior to brownies made with (more expensive) melted chocolate, but I’ve been proven wrong.
After making the easy brownie batter, I topped it with pretzels. I used 6 small bags of airplane pretzels that I found in my pantry. I don’t know how I ended up with so many bags of Southwest’s and Delta’s finest, but they taste way better on the brownies than they’ve ever tasted in my cramped seats.
Before baking, drizzle on salted caramel sauce. I used Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels that I melted together with a pat of butter, half-and-half, and a pinch of salt and it turned out so buttery, creamy, and dreamy. To save time, use a favorite storebought sauce.
The entire surface of the pan won’t be completely covered in caramel sauce, but while baking, the sauce thins out, melts, and ultimately covers the whole pan.
Make sure not to overbake these so they stay gooey and fudgy. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean, but will likely have a few moist crumbs.
The caramel sauce will never ‘set up’ so make sure to examine the brownie portion, not the caramel portion, when glancing at your toothpick. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of thinking my brownies weren’t done when I saw (caramel) goo on the toothpick, thereby overcooking them.
I know it’s going to be hard and it’s a cruel trick, but you have to allow the brownies to rest for at least 1 hour, or overnight, before digging in. It’s very important to let them cool properly to give the caramel a chance to soak in. Same concept of letting meat rest before you slice it so the juices don’t run everywhere.
I know you don’t want to lose a drop of precious caramel sauce to your cutting board so have patience.
When slicing, I used a large serrated knife. The knife needs to pierce the crunchy pretzels, and it’s inevitable that the super soft brownies will get a bit squished and messy in the slicing process; embrace it. They’re gooey, messy, drippy, and fudgy. The best things in life are. Don’t fret if slicing turns messy because it will.
You could always just grab a spoon and dig in straight from the pan and not even slice them. You know, and straighten out the rows, bite by bite.
They’re moist, soft, and intensely chocolaty without being overly sweet. The smooth brownies are sharply contrasted with the pretzels, which add a salty element along with crunch and texture.
The glistening, buttery, rich salted caramel balances the different flavors and complements both the brownies and the pretzels. It’s the proverbial icing on the cake.
Everything tastes better when it’s dripping in caramel sauce.
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Salted Caramel Pretzel-Topped Fudgy Brownies
These dense, rich, fudgy brownies are topped with pretzels and salted caramel sauce, making them the quintessential salty-and-sweet treat. They’re as fast and easy as a boxed mix, and the brownie batter is whisked together in one bowl. Make your own salted caramel sauce, or save time and use a favorite storebought. The brownies are moist, soft, and intensely chocolaty without being overly sweet. The crunchy pretzels add a salty element along with crunch and texture. The glistening, buttery salted caramel sauce balances the different flavors and complements both the brownies and the pretzels. It’s the proverbial icing on the cake because everything tastes better dripping in caramel sauce.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1/4 cup half-and-half or cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- about 12 caramels, unwrapped (or about 5 ounces, or a half package) Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels®
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Note – If using storebought caramel sauce to save time, use about 2/3 cup to 3/4 cup (just eyeball it)
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), melted
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (leftover from the morning brew is fine), optional but recommend to enhance chocolate flavor and does not make brownies taste like coffee
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process, I used Hershey’s natural
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee granules, optional but recommend to enhance chocolate flavor and does not make brownies taste like coffee
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup mini-pretzels or pretzels
- Salted Caramel Sauce – In a medium saucepan, combine cream, butter, and heat over medium-low heat to melt butter and until mixture is simmering, stirring frequently.
- Add the caramels, salt, and stir frequently until melted. Take pan off the heat; set aside while preparing the brownie batter.
- Brownies – Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang on the sides, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 1 minute. Allow butter to cool momentarily so you don’t scramble the eggs.
- Add the eggs, sugars, optional coffee, vanilla, and whisk to combine.
- Add the cocoa powder, optional espresso granules, optional salt, and whisk to combine. If your cocoa powder is lumpy, it could take a couple minutes of vigorous whisking.
- Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or knife. Batter is very thick and fudgy so take your time to work it into the corners of the pan.
- Add the pretzels in an even, flat layer over the brownie batter.
- Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top in an even zigzag pattern. The entire surface of the pan won’t be completely covered in caramel sauce, but while baking, the sauce thins out, melts, and ultimately covers the whole pan.
- Bake for about 26 to 28 minutes, or until done; don’t overbake (I baked for 26 1/2 minutes). A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean, but will likely have a few moist crumbs, but no batter. The caramel sauce will never ‘set up’ so make sure to examine the brownie portion, not the caramel portion, when glancing at your toothpick.
- Allow brownies to rest for at least 1 hour, or overnight, before lifting out with foil overhang and slicing. It’s very important to let them cool properly to give the caramel a chance to soak in. When slicing, I used a large serrated knife. The knife needs to pierce the pretzels, and it’s inevitable that the brownies will get a bit squished and messy in the slicing process; embrace it. Brownies will keep airtight at room temperature or refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Some people prefer to store rich brownies like this in the fridge and serve them slightly chilled.
Adapted from Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies, The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies, and Loaded Fudgy Candy Bar Brownies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 357mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 1gSugar: 36gProtein: 4g
Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies
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Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust
Nutella-Swirled Peanut Butter Chip Blondies
Loaded Fudgy Candy Bar Brownies
Peanut Butter-Swirled Fudgy Brownies
The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies
Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies
Fudgy Nutella Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
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Banana Bread Brownies with Vanilla Caramel Glaze
Thanks for the entries in the $100 Gift Card Giveaway and in the West Elm $50 Gift Card Giveaway
Fan of salty-and-sweet desserts? Favorite brownie or caramel-containing recipe?
ughhh i made the mistake of reading this right after dinner and now i’m hungry for desserts. this looks AMAZING. quick question though: if i omit the caramel (sadly, my brother hates caramel), do i still have to let the brownie sit for over an hour? my favourite type of brownie is the fresh-out-of-the-oven, burn-your-tongue type.
I would just eat them as soon as you feel like they’re safe to eat :)
Does this caramel set? I am mostly brainstorming about how to transport these babies. Can I stack them or would that make a sticky mess?
I wouldn’t recommend stacking them. I would transport them in the pan and slice them at the destination. The brand of caramel, or if you use homemade, will dictate how much it sets, but it’s caramel regardless so it is going to be runny and gooey. They’re excellent and I hope you try them!
These are pure food porn! What an inspired combination. I love it. I have a feeling I will be thinking of these a lot in the weeks to come.
Oh glad you’re going to try them – LMK how it goes!
I’m loving this salty-sweet combination. And that salted-caramel sauce looks perfect!!
Cocoa powder is quite the understated hero of the chocolate world (it’s like Han Solo). These brownies…I’m almost happy just gawking at the photos!!
understated hero of the chocolate world – that is so true! I used to shun it but I’ve learned it can be amazing (just don’t overbake it or it’s dry city! lol)
What a perfect topping for these brownies! I am overly excited to make these :)
If these don’t land in my mouth within 5 minutes, SOMEONE WILL PAY.
Yes, everything is better dripping in caramel sauce AND yes I would love to eat them out of the pan continuing to straighten the rows. Although, let’s be honest here, I would NEVER get the row just straight enough and would find myself at the other end of the pan before I got a “straight line”! LOL This is my kind of brownie, so rich looking and the caramel..ugh!!! The last 6 things I have baked have had salted caramel in them- I might have a problem ;) Wish I could eat some of these brownies they really do look spectacular!!!
You and I have so much in common :) Row straightening. Yeah. I had to donate and rehome most of this pan so that didn’t happen :)
These are to-dir-for!
These look so dense and fudgy- I love it! I love the combination of brownies and pretzels, it works so well together!
Simply amazing! I need these in my life for sure!
Oh my goodness! That last photo makes me want to lick the screen. When I was in high school, one of my favorite foods was pretzels. Seriously. We would buy the bag at Costco and I would alternately dip them in crazy things! I had a meal of top ramen, fat free ranch, fat free cottage cheese (the fat free years!) and I would dip my pretzel in ranch and cottage cheese and then place that pretzel in my spoonful of ramen! LOL! When I wasn’t dipping them in savory, however, I would dip them in chocolate fudge that I melted in the microwave. The combo of salty, crunchy and chocolatey is divine. Even though I can’t eat that way anymore, I know my kids would love these. Photos are the bomb, Averie! :-)
combo of salty, crunchy and chocolatey is divine = totally agree and while I can’t eat tons of this stuff either if I want to fit into my clothes, those few bites are heavenly :)
…….I’m a babbling fool over these because HOLY HEAVENS they looks INSAAAAANE!
you know coming to your food blog is dangerous for someone who is dieting!
can you imagine if your photos had smell-o-vision?
man, these brownies look good; that’s the way I like brownies, full of stuff!!!
smell-o-vision would rock!
I heard you were calling Salty Sweet lovers. Now if I just had the courage to make these myself. GREG
I think can muster up the courage, somehow :)
“Dense like a slab of fudge” — the only way brownies should be! These look so incredibly gooey and fudgy! I bet they’re so good with instant coffee in them. My favorite chocolate cake calls for coffee, but haven’t tried it in brownies! Definitely going to give that a shot. :)
In anything dark like brownies or dark cookies, a splash of coffee and/or some espresso granules are only good – can never hurt :)
Calling all sweet and savory lovers is right! More like screaming my name, sending up smoke signals, banging on my door and making it IMPOSSIBLE for me to look away!
I don’t know exactly what it is but sweet and salty just feels right this time of year… and these brownies are like the perfect option for those cravings. Winner, winner, brownies for dinner!
You are the salty and sweet queen. I know it’s your jam. And that is awesome. And I saw your nacho waffles. Whoa. They look epic!
I really shouldn’t look at your recipes while I’m on a juice cleanse. WANT ALL THE SUGAR.
These definitely look like everything a brownie should be. Adding pretzels to chocolate can never be a bad things. Salty, sweet,fudgy, oh man!
I am instantly craving caramel! These look out-of-this-world good!
That dripping caramel … drooling!! Also, pretzels in desserts is just my thing. These brownies look incredible!!
Wow these look like an awesome addition to the thanksgiving table
Yum! I always know where to go for a delicious dessert recipe. This is making me want this with some tea ASAP
ooozy….that’s the only way to describe what these look like, and the ONLY way that brownies should look! I would “accidently” get my fingers all covered in caramel while trying to plate these up and the “oops” have to lick my fingers clean. A few times. :D
The caramel on these was…incredible :)
These look like the ultimate sweet & salty dessert – love the pretzel topping!
The drippiness of these is killing me. I’m jonesing for chocolate!!!
Coffee in brownies. OMG! I have been thinking of doing it and now I so am going to. Thanks for the reminder.
I’m Still drooling….
Omg a splash makes the world of difference. It just really makes the chocolate profile pop. Always add a splash. It’s like baking and vanilla…always add a splash :)
These look phenomenal! I am so craving them now!
I’m usually not a big fan of sweet and salt desserts but these look delicious! Especially with oozing caramel on top. I love how easy this recipe is, too.
Wow I love the addition of the pretzels on these, sweet and salty perfection!
All this ooey-gooey goodness is just too much for me…just kidding! Iit’s total perfection!! That last pic with the puddle of caramel on the side…totally.did.me.in. Love!
Thanks, Trish. I appreciate it! You have some ooey-gooey caramel pics in your arsenal, too :)
In under 60 minutes, I do not think that there would be one left in my house! You are making my sweet tooth shout for joy!
My tagline is recipes for sweet teeth – glad I live up to my reputation :)
The whole cooling completely aspect of the recipe will not go over in my household. My patient husband can never not dig right in when it comes to bake goods. These look delicious. I would have a mighty hard time staying away too.
I knew I just bought some pretzels for a reason. Seriously – these look like the best dessert I could imagine – chocolate, caramel a little crunch and some saltiness. Love it!
Put your pretzels to use, asap!
It’s like the best brownie recipe. This salted caramel sauce sounds yummy. What an interesting idea to make brownies even better.
Wow wee. Theae brownies are some serious looking aweet and salty caramel goodness. I havent had a good brownie in a while. Are these really sweet?
No, but you may want to re-read the post. I covered that in the paragraph above the last photo before the recipe card. It’s highlighted in brown.
Your titles make me want to jump through this monitor, but then I read the recipe and Pavlov’s dogs have nothin’ on me! Drool-fest!
Wow those look insane! Great recipe as usual Averie. Hope you’re doing well :)
Thanks for stopping by, Eric! Nice to see you! :)
Goodness Averie! Those glistening topping shots – you’re killing me here! We haven’t even had breakfast and this is all I could think about. And I love that pretzel topping too! When I tried your salted caramel pretzel blondies, the pretzels were my favorite part so you know I’m completely on board with this topping!
I thought of you when I was making these b/c I know you made my other recipe and these are the chocolate follow-up :)
Averie, these brownies look crazy amazing! Love the stack photo!!
And thanks for pinning!
There is nothing I love more than a salty-sweet treat! YUM! :)
Yum! I love the combination of pretzels and chocolate. Thanks for sharing :)
One of my favorite brownie batters! I just made brownies on Friday night for a friend who just passed his CPA (not a blog recipe, but I needed something easy) and I filled them with Andes Mints. And, as simple as they were, he kept telling me how incredible they are. Like “life changing brownies.” That says a lot about the brownie batter itself – if you have a solid, fudgy, dense brownie batter like this – you’re golden. And I love the combination of salted caramel and pretzels. I would, no doubt, eat these straight from the pan even if they weren’t drippy and gooey. Salty and sweet is my weakness. :)
if you have a solid, fudgy, dense brownie batter like this – you’re golden <-- Amen to that. I actually love my other 2 main brownie batters. They're super fudgy but they both make 9x9 pans and for parties, great. But for just us, the 8x8 is preferred. And those other ones also use melted choc so it costs more. And more butter and sugar and eggs. For a party, who cares - but for just us, you know how it is when you really didn't even 'need' these brownies to begin with :)
Salty, caramely, fudgy chocolate brownies! Seriously all of my favorite things. These are amazing, Averie! I am with you on the cakey brownies. Not my thing and I actually use cocoa powder in my brownies as well, but I have no idea why have never added coffee. I add coffee to all my chocolate cakes and cupcakes. Next time I make brownies I am adding some coffee. And these pictures turnd of so good! It must have been a little hard to work with the fudgy, dripping brownies. You did an amazing job!
They were a mess girl. Once I realized that there was no way to keep it neat or non-drippy, I had to embrace that for the photo shoot and I just rolled with it the best I could. I actually love shooting bars and cookies, and any time I can stack stuff, I’m happy :) Give me a cake, pie, cheesecake, and I want to die.
And yes a splash of coffee just rounds out the flavor so much. Youll love it!
Caramel and pretzels are such a good combo! Perfect topping for these brownies to add some serious crunch.
Thanks Laura & yes definitely some serious crunch factor!
Your brownies are always dense and fudgy looking but these look even more so–I think I could take a fork through the whole stack of them!!! Chocolate, sweet and salty with crunch–these have to be crazy good. They remind me of turtle brownies with pretzels instead of nuts.
turtle brownies with pretzels instead of nuts = YES that’s what they are! GREAT CALL! I’m going in and editing the post and writing that in there b/c that’s exactly what they are! Sometimes we have to let other see the forest for us when we can’t see one tree from the next :)
These were extra dense and fudgy b/c the last few batches of brownies I was either making with cocoa powder I didnt love, an oven I didnt love, and finally got both down pat in my new place and didn’t overbake them!
Those little pretzels are the cutest! Plus, these brownies are a little slice of heaven. Yum!
That caramel addition on the top is gosh.. the best
Love the goo in brownies and the salty crunchy pretzels are just the perfect match to it. Love the styling here!
thanks for the styling compliments!
These look so great I can barely stand it! Salt, sweet and chocolate. One of my holy trinities.
holy trinities = love it :)
I’m not a fan of chocolate (unless it’s darker than the night) but these look so rich & amazingly dense I think I’d be able to eat a tray of them.
So ooey, gooey and decadent. Love it! :)