We have all heard it, “Cook with love”. But what does that mean? Does it mean loving the act of cooking? Or does it mean loving the people you cook for?
I think it means both. And while I love a good restaurant meal with a well thought out menu, for Valentine’s Day I am more likely to create a meal at home centered around the passions (for food!) of the person I am cooking for.
And for dessert, that means chocolate!
Not just any chocolate. A chocolate brownie with layers of chocolate and caramel in the center, topped with vanilla ice cream and a luscious homemade chocolate sauce.
All of this can be prepared in advance so that all you need to do is serve it up and watch your partner’s face light up.
You can do this recipe fancy, entirely from scratch, or you can do what I did and use a package mix, store bought caramels and ice cream. But make the chocolate sauce at home. It’s so good!
(Special note: The story of this brownie recipe, and how I came to have it, will be featured in the April edition of North Asheville & Montford Neighbors Magazine, Christine Priola–Publisher. If you are interested in sponsoring our neighborhood magazine you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
First the brownies.
Unwrap the caramels and put them in a saucepan over medium low heat with a ¼ cup of evaporated milk or heavy cream. (Unwrapping the caramels is probably the hardest part of this recipe).
Give them a stir every once in a while and when the caramels are fully melted and combined with the milk, turn off the heat and set it aside.
While the caramels are melting prepare the brownie mix according to the directions on the box.
Grease the bottom of an 13 x 9” pan and spread half of the brownie mix in it.
Bake this for 8-10 minutes until it is set.
When it is baked, take it out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips all over the top of it. Let them sit for a minute or two.
The heat of the brownies will melt the chocolate. Use a knife or offset spatula to spread the melted chocolate in an even layer over the brownies.
Now pour the melted caramels over the chocolate layer in the pan and carefully spread it making sure you get the corners and edges.
Pour the remainder of the brownie mix over the caramel layer and carefully spread it out.
Now put the whole thing back in the oven for 20-22 minutes until it is done . You can check it for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the top layer. It should come out clean. Don’t go too far in or you will reach the caramel layer!
Let it cool completely for a couple hours, or overnight.
Making the chocolate sauce.
This recipe was my mother’s. I spent years trying to figure out why hers came out differently from mine until one day I realized that she always made it in advance and then reheated before serving it. The additional time on the stove top transformed it from just a great tasting sauce to one that would harden a bit when it hit the ice cream making it the best chocolate sauce in the whole wide world.
Put the unsweetened chocolate and butter in a heavy sauce pan and heat it over low heat until it is mostly melted.
Add the sugar, water and a pinch of salt and bring it to a full boil, stirring constantly.
Let it boil without stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until it coats a spoon.
You can stop here, let it cool and reheat it to a full boil before serving or you can boil it a further 2-3 minutes and serve it right away.
The chocolate sauce will keep for a week or more in the fridge, if you don’t eat it first.
Assemble the sundae.
Place a brownie on a plate. I cut mine into heart shapes for Valentine’s Day but you don’t need to do that if you don’t want to.
Top it with ice cream and then pour the sauce over the whole thing.
This is so yummy!
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BROWNIE SUNDAE
For the Brownies
- 1 family size box of fudge brownie mix 13x9” pan
- 2-3 eggs
- Vegetable oil as directed on box
- 1 bag of Caramel candy
- ¼ c evaporated milk or heavy cream
- 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Chocolate Sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
Vanilla ice cream
Prepare the brownies
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 13X9” baking pan.
- Place the unwrapped caramels in a medium saucepan along with the evaporated milk. Heat over medium to low heat until the caramels have melted completely, stirring occasionally.
- While the caramels are melting, make the brownie mix according to the package directions.
- Pour ½ of the brownie mix into your prepared pan, spreading it evenly.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until the batter has set.
- Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips. Let sit for 1-2 minutes until the chips are melted and can be spread over the brownie layer.
- Pour the melted caramel over the chocolate layer and gently spread it out over the chocolate layer.
- Spoon the remaining brownie mix carefully over the caramel layer and spread to the edges.
- Place the brownies back in the oven and cook until done, about 20-22 minutes.
- Let cool completely before cutting.
Make the chocolate sauce
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a small saucepan.
- Add the water, sugar, and salt. Bring the sauce to a full boil, stirring until the sugar is incorporated.
- If you are making the chocolate sauce ahead, let the sauce boil, without stirring, for at least ten minutes. When you reheat the sauce, bring it back to a full boil and boil for 2-3 minutes more.
- If you are using the sauce immediately, boil the sauce without stirring for 15 minutes.
Assemble the Sundae
- Place a brownie in the center of a small plate or bowl. Top with vanilla ice cream and pour chocolate sauce on top.