Dark Chocolate Brownies with Caramel Frosting


Dark chocolate brownies with caramel frosting

Some weeks ago the wonderful Jenny saw my complaint about not being able to find unsweetened baking chocolate where I live. She was very sweet and immediately sent me a package with four large bars plus some other awesome chocolate treats. She included peanut butter cups, taza drinking chocolate, a huge chunk of bittersweet chocolate, and even a raw chocolate bar. Thank you, Jenny! So far I have shared the taza hot chocolate with some people who all loved it. I didn’t touch the rest of the package though. It all looked so special and if I would eat it, it would have been gone.

But yesterday I couldn’t stop myself any longer and opened the wrapping of an unsweetened 100% baking chocolate bar. I know that you are not supposed to eat it all by itself, but I never listen to advice. And it was good I didn’t because biting into the chocolate bar an absolutely interesting and wonderful taste experience. At first it was bitter, but then I could taste cocoa nibs, something sour, even some coffee, and lots more. It was a very complex flavour, almost as complex as red wine. I admit that I went back to that chocolate bar to break 2-3 more small bits from it. I could have spent the whole evening doing that. Am I crazy?

Unsweetened baking chocolate

I don’t have any experinence in baking with unsweetened chocolate. Chocolate is used very often in German baking, but recipes usually call for bittersweet  or couverture chocolate. I have several books about baking with chocolate and I found very many recipes calling for that ingredient. Unfortunately most recipes that call for chocolate also call for ridiculous amounts of eggs. Chocolate and eggs make the finished cake dense, moist and sometimes gooey inside.

Finally I found a recipe for brownies which called only for two eggs and no fancy ingredients. Chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground vanilla, and baking powder. That was all.

My adapted version calls for some more ingredients and I made a caramel frosting for them. These brownies are absolutely amazing. They are crispy on the outside with a very moist crumb. Moist, not fudgy. They are small and thin, so there is a perfect balance between moist and crispy. They are fairly un-sweet, if there was such a word (even though I increased the amount of sugar) with a very deep chocolate flavour.

I know you want to make these right now. What are you waiting for?

The caramel frosting is absolutely fantastic, too. I used coconut milk and barley malt syrup as a base, which resulted in a buttery and complex taste. Barley malt syrup adds a deep, almost smokey caramel flavour. The frosting very creamy, smooth and buttery. It complements the chocolate taste and adds just the right amount of sweetness. You can substitute brown rice syrup, but I would recommend to try the recipe as it is. It’s worth it, barley malt syrup is a miracle.

Dark chocolate brownies with caramel frosting (makes 16 small)


1 T ground flax seed
3 T hot water
100 g (3.5 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped roughly
50 g (3 1/2 T) good quality margarine
50 g (1/4 c) solid coconut oil (the refined but not hydrogenated kind)
150 g (3/4 c) sugar
50 g (1/4 c) sucanat
60 g (1/4 c) soy yoghurt
100 g (3/4 c + 1 1/3 T) all purpose flour
1 t ground vanilla (or 2 t vanilla extract)
1/2 t baking powder
1/8 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 20 cm x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) brownie pan with parchment paper.
Combine flax seed and hot water. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine chocolate, margarine, coconut fat, sugar, and sucanat. Carefully melt the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning the chocolate. Remove from heat as soon as only a few lumps of chocolate and fat are left. Stir until completely melted and well combined and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a bowl combine flax mixture and soy yoghurt. Mix well and add sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Carefully stir in chocolate mixture. Mix until well combined and pour into brownie pan. The batter will be rather thick. Spread out evenly and transfer to oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Slice when completely cooled.

Brownies cooling on the rack.


40 g (3 T) coconut oil (refined, but not hydrogenated)
80 g (1/4 c) barley malt syrup
120 ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk
80 g (3/4 c) unsifted confectioner’s sugar
1/4 t salt

In a small saucepan combine coconut fat, barley malt syrup, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. The mixture should bubble and be fairly foamy. Set aside and let cool for five minutes. Stir in confectioner’s sugar and salt. The mixture will be full of sugar lumps but that’s okay. let cool for five more minutes and transfer to food processor. Process until no lumps remain and the mixture is slightly lighter in colour.(1-2 minutes). Transfer to fridge and let cool for at least one hour. The mixture will set over time. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the firmer it gets. Whip it up with a spoon before using.

Frost your brownies and serve with a strong cup of coffee.

Update: Cassie asked me if the frosting could be made without powdered sugar. So here’s a version without the it. It tastes exactly like the first version. If you use less barley malt  syrup (2 T)  and more corn syrup (4 T), you can make this into a wonderfully mild and buttery frosting. One brownie, endless frosting possibilities. I need to get out of that kitchen.

150 ml (1/2 c + 2 T) coconut milk, separated
80 g (6 T) coconut oil
80 g (1/4 c) barley malt syrup
1/4 t salt
1 T cornstarch
40 g (2 T) light corn syrup (substitute agave or brown rice syrup)

Mix 2 tablesppons of coconut milk and cornstarch. Set aside. Combine remaining coconut milk, coconut fat, barley malt syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat (don’t turn off stove) and stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook for one more minute until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to fridge, and let cool for at least an hour. Whip up with a spoon before using.

40 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate Brownies with Caramel Frosting

  1. You had me at “crispy on the outside with a very moist crumb”… :)
    The brownies look divine, and the frosting is intriguing. I have to find barley malt syrup and give it a try!

  2. Are you using the one you linked to, by Rapunzel? I’ve never seen it before, I know Rapunzel as there’s quite a few products by them at health food stores in Italy but coconut oil is not being exported to Italy yet. I get mine in the UK, and it’s virgin coconut oil.

    That cake was a a birthday cake I made up for the occasion, but I was too lazy and didn’t write down the quantities. I remember enough to make it again but it’s a bit risky to post a recipe now…I’ll make it again at some point and share it :)

    1. No. I’m using a different one, that’s just a picture I dugg out on google. I realized that we can get virgin coconut oil here, too. I assume they work similar in baking?

  3. These brownies look great, Mihl! And the frosting sounds perfect! When you talk about coconut fat you mean coconut oil/butter? I use coconut oil and am very happy about it, I also like it a lot in uncooked desserts. The other day I used it with vegan white chocolate to make some topping for an orange flavoured cake :)

    1. Sorry for the confusion, I guess it is the same as coconut oil. Here it is sold in its solid form in small packages in supermarkets. Or in health food stores where it comes in glass jars. It’s not the virgin kind but the refined kind.
      P.S. That cake sounds amazing. Are you going to share the recipe?

  4. Jesus, that frosting looks incredible. I grew up eating a very dense, very dark chocolate cake with caramel frosting that that we called Nana Cake. Not sure where Nana got the recipe, but I haven’t had it in 20 years. Many eggs in that recipe! Glad you enjoyed the unsweetened chocolate. That’s how the Aztecs ate and drank it for hundreds of years! It’ll grow hair on your chest. :)

  5. OH YUM! You out do yourself every single time! I don’t know how you keep coming up with such amazing recipes, but you do! You shock me! I loooovvve caramel, and combining it with brownies is pure genius. Thank you so much for this! You are really a fantastic advocate for veganism because your food is out of this world delicious.

  6. These look crazy good! I’m in the chocolate capital of the world but I haven’t baked anything choclatey in ages- I’m going to have to remedy that!

    Love the caramel frosting, yummmm.

  7. these look delicious!! and thank you for posting a caramel frosting recipe – i’ve been wondering how to go about that lately and didn’t have a clue where to start!!

  8. on the floor. drooling. that caramel frosting looks sooo good. i’m imagining a warm brownie with that frosting and tall cool glass of soy milk. i’m in heaven.

  9. Mihl, these look totally amazing! I’m glad you discovered unsweetened chocolate–it’s my staple now that I can’t eat sugar. I’ve found that a good quality unsweetened chocolate is totally palatable, and I did the “nibble a bit and go back” thing as well when I first tasted it! Now I use it in recipes, but once in a while I still crave a little piece as-is. Your chocolate care package sounds wonderful!

  10. Those brownies look good, but the frosting? It sounds incredible! I used to love butterscotch, so I must try that soon!
    I ALWAYS snack on cooking chocolate! Well, I DID, before I decided I HAVE to lose weight… :(

  11. Oh I know that feeling of not wanting to eat the chocolate because then it would all be gone. But we HAVE to eat it, don’t we? You made excellent use of your chocolate. The brownies look great, and the caramel topping makes my teeth tingle just looking at it!

  12. i haven’t eaten breakfast yet and now i’m suuuuper hungry and craving brownies! ah ha ha! thanks, Mihl! these look decadent & awesome! i’m thinking i’m gonna have to sub in some gluten-free flours and make ’em happen. mmmmmmmmmm!

  13. I think my eyes went as wide as saucers when I saw that first picture! If nothing else, I’m making that frosting, tonight or sooner, it just sounds incredible!

  14. These sound wonderful! The coconut milk and barley malt combo for the caramel sounds good. Any suggestions for an alternative to confectioner’s sugar? I haven’t made much frosting because I always get hung up on what to substitute for the con. sugar (and I had a bit of a fudge disaster without it over the holidays).

  15. Unsweetened chocolate *is* a lot like wine–so many different flavors all at once. Not my favorite, but I’ve definitely nibbled on a few bars before.

    Those brownies look incredible! I’m always on the lookout for moist but not fudgy brownies, so these are definitely going to be made soon.

  16. Those look amazing!! I can’t get unsweetened chocolate in the UK either but used it all the time in Canada. Whenever I go home I bring back boxes of the stuff as it does make the best brownies!! Love the sound of that frosting too! Thank you :)

  17. That looks delicious! I love the caramel frosting on top, too. MMM.

    As for gooey-insides brownies, Salla, avocado does wonders in vegan brownies!

  18. These look delicious, especially the coconut frosting, but I wish somebody invented a vegan style gooey – insides brownie, I’d love that! I guess egg replacer doesn’t really do the trick.. Any ideas?

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