Yield: 24-30 brownies
For the brownies:
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp. cocoa powder
6 large eggs
2½ cups sugar
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
For the caramel sauce:*
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
¼ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the ganache:*
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
*Note: These recipes will make more caramel and ganache than you need for the brownies. But really, when was it ever a bad thing to have extra caramel or ganache?
To make the brownies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated. Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature, and sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top of the brownies. Gently press the pecans into the batter. Continue to bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, about 10 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
To make the caramel, spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully. When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir. Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream. Set aside. Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat. (To test the color, spoon a drop onto a white plate or bowl.) Carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds. The mixture will steam and bubble violently. Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Set aside and let cool slightly.
To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or the microwave. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk together until a thick, smooth ganache forms.
Drizzle the caramel sauce and warm ganache over the cooled brownies. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours. Use the edges of the foil to lift the brownies from the pan. Remove the foil and cut into 24 or 30 pieces. Serve and enjoy.