Brownie Sundae Bars with Salted Caramel Dipping Sauce
Makes 15 bars
Bittersweet Chocolate Brownie Layer
7 ounces (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 gallon good quality vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream, softened to a spreadable consistency
24 ounces milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate (or a combination of the two), coarsely chopped
Salted Caramel Dipping Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
2 ounces butter, cubed
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon course sea salt or flaked sea salt
Prepare the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with enough foil so that there is a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Butter the foil. In a heavy large saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate over medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring until well incorporated. Stir in the sugar and the salt until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Bake the brownies until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges with a few moist crumbs adhering, 25-30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before proceeding.
When the brownies have cooled, spread the softened vanilla ice cream in an even layer over the top. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 3 hours.
Line a baking sheet (size that will fit into your freezer) with parchment paper or waxed paper. When the ice cream has frozen, remove the pan from the freezer. Grasping the foil overhang, pull the brownies/ice cream block out of the pan and place it on a work surface. Working quickly with a very sharp knife, cut the block into 15 bars (you can do more or less, depending on the size that you want to serve.) Transfer the bars to the prepared baking sheet, spacing apart, and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.
Temper the chocolate (you will need a candy thermometer for this part!): Fill a large bowl with a few inches of ice water and set aside. Bring a heavy medium saucepan filled with 2 inches of water to a low simmer. Place the chocolate in a large, dry, heatproof bowl, and set the bowl over the simmering water. Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth, and the temperature reaches 118F degrees. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it over the reserved ice-water bath. Stir the chocolate constantly until the temperature has decreased to 80F degrees.
Return the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir the chocolate until the temperature has increased to 87F degrees, and then immediately remove the bowl. Throughout the next steps, check the temperature of the chocolate occasionally. It should stay between 86-89 degrees. Keep the saucepan of water simmering in the event that you will need to reheat the chocolate.
Cover the ice cream brownie bars: Have a fork and an off-set spatula handy. Remove the baking sheet holding the frozen bars from the freezer. Working as quickly as you can, lower one bar into the chocolate using the off-set spatula, and then flip the bar over using the fork, making sure that all of the surfaces are coated with chocolate. Carefully lift the bar out of the chocolate with the fork, tapping the fork a few times on the bowl to even out the chocolate. Return the coated bar to the baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining bars. If the ice cream starts to get too soft, return the baking sheet to the freezer until it firms up.
Freeze the coated brownie bars for at least 2 hours.
Prepare the caramel dipping sauce: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil the mixture without stirring over medium-high heat until it turns dark amber in color, 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully stir in the butter, cream, and salt (the mixture will bubble up vigorously at first.) Return the heat to low, and cook the mixture, whisking, for 2-3 minutes more, until smooth and slightly thickened. Allow the caramel to cool to a moderately warm temperature before serving.
Serve the brownie bars alongside the warmed caramel dipping sauce.