I made these fleur de sel brownies for a work holiday party baking competition, but if I’m going to be honest, I made them for myself.
I’ve been craving gooey, fudge, rich chocolate brownies for weeks. I guess I could have satisfied my craving at one of the many bakeries I frequent in St. Louis but there’s something better about making brownies at home.
First of all, there’s the eating the batter part. There are few things better than unhooking the mixing paddle and licking the chocolate brownie batter off the sides. This is an experience everyone needs to have at least once.
Then, there’s the smell of the brownies as they’re baking in the oven. It’s like hot chocolate on overload. It’s rich, warming, and all-encompassing. If you close your eyes and breathe in it feels like you’re taking a bath in chocolate, which sounds wonderful and gross at the same time.
I topped these brownies with fleur de sel de Guérande, or French sea salt. Fleur de sel de Guérande comes from a town in South Brittany, a region of France near the Atlantic Ocean that’s famous for its salt water marshes. I like how the salt balances the sweet in the brownies.
Fleur de sel de Guérande differs from other types of fleur de sel, which I learned the hard way when I took a French cooking class earlier this year. The teacher was explaining how she made salted caramel and I asked if it was with sel de Guérande. “Non,” she said, and named a different town in France.
“Il y a beaucoup des distinctions,” I said. There are many distinctions.
A French teacher I’d met started laughing. “Oui il y a beaucoup des distinctions en France,” he said, which is true. French people can often trace a product back to town it’s produced in. I think that says something about the quality of products that are used there.
Even though it can be mind boggling to consider all the types of salt, wine, and cheese (to name a few things), it speaks to the French’s passion for and commitment to quality ingredients.
ANYWAY. You should make these brownies as soon as possible. They’re crowd pleasers but also, they break away from the mold. The sea salt on top sets them apart from a standard chocolate brownie and makes them even better.
Here’s a song that reminds me of these brownies. It’s also good to play while the brownies are baking and you keep watching them to see if they’re done.
Fleur de Sel Brownies
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tbsp)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Once it’s melted, remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer (or another bowl if you’re mixing by hand). Mix in the sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Then, mix in the eggs one at a time.
Add the flour and cocoa powder to the bowl and mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined and the batter is thick. I like to place a towel or mixing bowl shield around the bowl at this part because otherwise, cocoa powder and flour will go flying everywhere.
Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the brownies for 40-45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.
Place the pan on a cooling rack and sprinkle the top of the brownies with sea salt. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then remove the brownies from the pan and allow them to cool a little while longer before cutting into squares. Enjoy!
*I put the brownie squares in the fridge overnight because I couldn’t stay up all night and wait for them to cool. The good news is, they’re still rich and fudge-y in the morning as long as you let them come to room temperature for 30 minutes.