Whether you eat these brownies on their own or covered with ice cream, your world will be forever changed.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated February 11, 2020
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If you’re looking for the perfect brownie recipe, your search has ended.

When we made Vallery Lomas’s Salted Caramel Brownies in the test kitchen last month, chaos reigned. Staff members abandoned their desks to head downstairs and try a bite; our fingers were sticky and covered in caramel sauce, but we didn’t care because we were too busy Instagramming those brownies and shouting declarations of love from the rooftops. They’re warm, comforting, sweet, salty, and fudgy, everything you could ever want from a brownie. The homemade caramel sauce that's drizzled on top isn't just a garnish—the salty, toasty notes make the brownies taste even more fudgy. Some even said they were the best brownies they’ve ever had—we’ll let you be the judge of that.

Jennifer Causey

In six steps and an hour and a half, these brownies can be yours, too. Lomas included several helpful tips in her writeup, including why you should use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder (more on that in a minute) and how sugar affects not only the sweetness of the brownies, but the texture, too. Read on for more key tips, compiled from Lomas’ recipe and our test kitchen.

Use unsweetened chocolate, not cocoa powder

Lomas believes that using melted chocolate instead of cocoa in the batter makes the brownies especially moist and gooey; cocoa powder, on the other hand, would yield a more cake-like brownie. Stick with unsweetened chocolate, too, since it helps you control the amount of sugar in the recipe and ensures a soft, tender texture. The better the chocolate, the better the brownies (we especially love Guittard unsweetened chocolate).

Don’t feel like using a double boiler? No problem.

The recipe calls for a double boiler to melt the chocolate, but you can also melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Or use the microwave: Do 30-second bursts and stir in between each session.

More egg yolks = the most fudgy brownie

Lomas’ recipe lists three large eggs for the brownie component. However, if you want even richer, fudgier brownies, she says you can replace one of the eggs with two egg yolks.

Make sure you thoroughly whisk the sugar and eggs

The recipe telling you to whisk the sugar and eggs for one minute isn’t a suggestion. It takes about that much time for the sugar to dissolve and the eggs to aerate, which is important for the structure of the brownie. If you don’t mix them long enough, the texture will be more grainy.

But don’t overwork the flour 

Just like pancakes, you'll want to mix the flour into the chocolate mixture until it’s just combined because you don’t want to overwork the gluten. The latter would result in gummy brownies.

It’s ok if a little chocolate sticks to the toothpick…

When you’re testing to see if the brownies are done, don’t be discouraged if a few crumbs stick to the toothpick. It will never come out truly clean, since the brownies are so moist. Instead, make sure that the brownies are set and don’t jiggle when you remove them.

…in fact, err on the side of undercooking 

After the brownies come out of the oven, they’ll continue to cook for a little bit as they cool.

Don’t skimp on the caramel

This recipe calls for caramel because its bittersweet taste amplifies the flavors of the brownies, making them taste even more chocolaty. It’s worth cooking the caramel the full 10 minutes so that it turns a deep amber color for that nutty flavor. Don’t worry about it overcooking at that point—once you add in the heavy cream, it will halt the cooking process completely.

Let them cool

For maximum visual impact, let the brownies cool completely and arrange them, unsliced, on a serving dish before pouring on the caramel sauce. Sprinkle on sea salt for the finishing touch, then use a sharp knife to slice them into squares.

Bring out the ice cream

If there was ever a case for brownies à la mode, this would be it. The sauce on the brownies is so drippy and gooey that it begs to be paired with ice cream.

Get the Recipe: Salted Caramel Brownies