Olive Oil Brownies with Caramel and Sea Salt

If you have a Valentine, make these for the two of you!  If you don't have a Valentine, you don't even have to share.  Win win.
Olive oil brownies are in a level all their own.  We still have amazing gooey brownies, but the olive oil combined with rich dark chocolate and espresso powder creates a deep, dark, almost bitter and savory flavor.  The sugar keeps things from being too crazy, but I absolutely love the richness of these brownies.  I saw the recipe, and based on the complex flavors we had going on with the brownies themselves, I figured a bit of caramel would be a welcome sweet spot.
We could go and make caramel from scratch, but a handful of store-bought caramels, melted with some milk makes a much easier topping when you don't want to spend hours on these things.
A sprinkling of sea salt adds to the richness.  The salt brings out the sweetness, compliments the dark flavor of the brownie, and makes these totally impressive, even though they'll be done in less than an hour from start to brownie-eating-finish.
I wish I had added less milk, so that the caramel was more of a swirl and less of a glaze, but who cares, they were delicious.  Next time, less milk.  This time, oh I'm sorry, I can't talk right now because my mouth is full of amazing caramel olive-oil brownies.
I've made caramel brownies before, but these have a sophisticated flavor I'd highly recommend when you're looking for something beyond your usual sweets fix!
Also, want a trick for lining your pan with foil without ripping the aluminum foil?  Shape the foil around the bottom of your pan, then flip over and fit it inside the pan.  Spray with cooking spray, and clean-up is a breeze!

Olive Oil Brownies with Caramel and Sea Salt (recipe slightly adapted from Savory Simple)
¼ cup olive oil (I'm really partial to this brand)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
Flaky sea salt, or coarse sea salt
14 caramel squares (I used Kraft)
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8x8 pan with foil, and spray with baking spray.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with the olive oil.  This can also be done in 30 second increments in the microwave.  Remove from the heat, and mix in the sugar and vanilla extract.  Mix in the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the flour and espresso powder until the batter is uniform and shiny.  Spread into the prepared baking pan and set aside.

Melt the caramel and milk together in the microwave in 30 second increments until melted and uniform.  Drizzle over the brownie batter and sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Bake for 28-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Let cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then lift out the foil to allow the brownies to cool completely.  Since the sea salt cooked into the caramel, I sprinkled a little more on, but it's not necessary to do so!  Slice and enjoy!

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