brownies with peanut butter & caramel

14 TB butter, plus 1 TB more for greasing pan
1 cup high-quality bittersweet chocolate chips 
¾ cup sugar
¾ ts sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
2 eggs, room temp, beaten well
about 6 dollups of peanut butter (maybe ¾ cup?)
9-12 caramel candies, unwrapped (salted caramels even better!)
a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips, optional

extra sea salt for the tops of the brownies before baking

cook notes:
the benefits of using high-quality chocolate really make these brownies.  
Choose a chocolate like Ghirahdelli, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, etc… that has a high cocoa count (50-80% is perfect).  
I use Ghirahdelli chips.
The sprinkling of the sea salt on top of the brownies is not mandatory and will not make the brownies “salty”; 
it is meant to enhance the flavor of the chocolates in the batter.  
This is a deep chocolate tasting brownie and they need a little more salt to truly bring out the chocolate flavor.
When you melt the butter and chocolate, please use a nice low flame so the melting goes smoothly and the chocolate 
doesn’t get too hot, which will make it taste bitter/burnt.  And let this liquid mixture cool a bit before adding to the egg mixture. 

Preheat oven to 350° degrees. 
Butter up well an 8 x 8 baking pan; set pan aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a small saucepan over LOW heat, stirring constantly. 
When melted take off heat, set aside to cool a bit.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar, beat well, add in the vanilla extract, and mix.  
When the melted chocolate has cooled down a bit (warm ok) slowly add it in to the egg mixture, 
a little bit at first, mix really well, then more as you go along.
Next dump the flour right on top of the mixture, then sprinkle on the sea salt.  
Using a spatula mix until JUST combined, lumps are ok!
Pour 2/3 of batter into greased baking pan.
Place down about 6 separate 2-inch sized dollups of peanut butter on top of brownie batter, making sure not to 
place them on or near the edges (it will seep out).
No need to spread out the peanut butter, it will melt a bit during baking.  
Then place a caramel candy pieces on top of the peanut butter dollup.  I used about six pieces of caramel.  
You can use more.
Then sprinkle a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips on top, optional.   
Use remaining 1/3 brownie batter, carefully place on top, and if necessary using wet fingers gently move batter around to evenly coat.  
There isn’t enough batter to cover entire top, this is fine, just cover up the areas that have the peanut butter dollops.
Sprinkle top of batter with just a little bit of sea salt.
Bake for 30-38 minutes. Mine were done at the 35-minute mark.
I don’t like gooey brownies, so if you want really gooey, then bake for about 30-32 minutes.
After baking, they take a while to firm up, so if you try to remove them from the pan they will break apart. 
Very very gooey when hot from the oven!
These really need to cool down since the caramel will be very hot.
Makes 9 brownies.