John Whaite’s brown butter brownies with hazelnuts and salted caramel

by | Apr 4, 2024

John Whaite cannot bake fast enough to keep up with the popular demand for his knock-out brownies at the moment. Here he’s shared an old favourite recipe with us, perfectly balanced brownies with homemade caramel. A swirl of Halen Môn Salted Caramel would work well too if you’re short on time.


    Makes 16

    For the topping

    • 90g hazelnuts
    • 90g caster sugar
    • 30g salted butter
    • 90g double cream
    • Sea salt flakes

    For the brownie batter

    • 200g unsalted butter
    • 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
    • 265g caster sugar
    • 150g plain flour 
    • 1 tsp Halen Môn Pure Sea Salt
    • 3 large eggs


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm square loose-bottom cake tin with baking paper.

    2. Put the hazelnuts into a small dry frying pan and set it over a high heat. As the pan warms up, toss the hazelnuts every so often, until they start to brown and release their nutty smell. Tip into a bowl to cool, then roughly chop them.

    3. Put the cream and butter into a saucepan and set over a medium-high heat to warm up while you caramelise the sugar.

    4. For the caramel, wipe out the frying pan and set it over a medium-high heat. Sprinkle the sugar onto the base of the pan and allow it to melt and turn to an amber brown – if the sugar starts to brown more quickly in some areas, just give it a gentle stir. Once you have a fairly dark-amber caramel, add the warm cream, a drop at a time, stirring. If the caramel solidifies, you’ve added the cream too quickly, in which case, just add all of the cream, reduce the heat to low-medium and stir for a while until the sugar melts into the cream. Once you have a smooth sauce, bring it to the boil for just a minute then turn off the heat and add a generous pinch of salt flakes. Pour into a cold bowl and set aside until needed.

    5. For the brownie batter put the butter into a saucepan and set over a high heat. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and have handy. Allow the butter to come to a boil – swirl the pan every so often as the butter bubbles and spatters. Once the bubbles turn to a fine, cappuccino-like foam, and the butter smells nutty, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds, before stirring together – the heat of the butter should melt the chocolate. If it doesn’t, set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted.

    RECIPE by John Whaite IMAGERY: Nassima Rothacker for Comfort: Food to soothe the soul

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