Layers of fudgy brownie, soft caramel and silky chocolate ganache fill a sweet and salty brown sugar pecan pretzel crust in this Caramel Brownie Pie. It's the perfect amount of sweet with a touch of salty.
Posted: 12/17/2020; Updated: 11/1/2021
This is pretty much all of the best things combined into perfect layers and textures. It's my ideal pie, especially because I love a sweet and salty situation! This is a mix of caramel turtle brownies and caramel pretzel brownies, all from scratch, and you don't even have to make a pie crust! Well, not a real pie crust, just an easy pretzel pecan crust.
It's soft, chewy, fudgy, and oh so chocolatey. The caramel pairs perfectly with the chocolate and pretzels, and the saltiness cuts through all of the sweetness. Don't skip the flaky sea salt on the top, this is crucial!
Because this pie has multiple layers, you'll want to plan for about a half a day to make the fudge brownie pie recipe so each section has time to bake, set, and chill.
Before eating, you'll want to set it out for about one hour before slicing and enjoying (or cut a slice and bring that to temperature) so the caramel and ganache softens back up slightly.
While it does take a bit of time to assemble, no one section is overly difficult! I've even included a full video of how to make the caramel sauce. This caramel doesn't require a thermometer, just a watchful eye, and you'll be surprised how quick it is to make!
Ingredients & Tools Needed
Here are the main ingredients you'll need for the gooey Caramel Brownie Pie:
- Mini pretzels. For the crust! It's probably my favorite part and is a nice mixup from a brownie pie with graham cracker or flaky pie crust.
- Pecans. These get pulverized in with the pretzels, but can also be omitted.
- Sugars. Brown for the crust and white granulated for the brownie layer and caramel.
- Semi-sweet chocolate. This means 60-70% and is used for both the brownie and ganache.
- Cocoa powder. Dutch processed is preferred but you can also make it with natural cocoa.
- Flaky sea salt. Non-negotiable! This helps to cut through all of the sweet and rich flavors and finishes the pie so nicely.
- Unsalted butter. This goes in everything except the ganache. Melted in the crust and brownie, room temperature for the caramel.
- All-purpose flour. Just ¼ cup for the brownie layer!
You'll also need:
- 8-or 9-inch tart pan or pie dish. I like to use a tart pan because it makes it so much easier to remove and slice, but either is completely fine!
- Food processor. This is the best way to get the pretzel crust to the correct texture. You can also use a high speed blender. I would only crush by hand if that is your last option, as it just doesn't get fine enough.
How to make Caramel Brownie Pie
Pretzel Pecan Crust
STEP 1: Pulverize the pretzels until fine and sandy with a few small chunks. Then, add the pecans and brown sugar, and pulse until the pecans are broken down. Finally, drizzle the melted butter around the bowl and pulse to combine and moisten the crumbs.
STEP 2: Press the pretzel crumbs into the the pie dish or tart pan and press evenly into the bottom and sides. I like to use a ⅓ cup measuring cup to do this. Be sure it's very compact. Bake the crust in a preheated 350℉/177℃ oven for 8 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack while you make the brownie layer.
These are the easiest brownies from scratch, mostly because it's such a small amount.
STEP 3: Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large bowl (in 20-second increments) and mix to combine. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, whisked egg, and salt until combined, then fold in the flour until it disappears.
STEP 4: Pour the brownie batter into the pretzel crust and smooth it out to meet the edges. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the edges are slightly set. It will still look rather fudgy in the center - this is correct! Transfer to a wire rack while you make the caramel.
This caramel is easy to make and you don't even need a thermometer! You will need to keep an eye on the full process, as your cues will be color, smell, and smoke (plus a lot of stirring)! I always use my rubber spatula to do this job.
STEP 5: Add the granulated sugar to a medium saucepan and turn the stove on to medium heat. Note that each stove is different, so medium may be too hot for some and too low for others. With practice, you will find the sweet spot.
Stir the sugar every 30 seconds, reshaking the pan to even it back out. The sugar will slowly start to moisten, clump up, then will begin to melt and turn amber in color. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes on most stovetops.
During the process, focus on color and smell. It will start as white, then clear, then a light yellow and by the time the sugar is melted it will be a nice amber. If the sugar is gaining color too quickly but it's still clumpy, remove it from the heat and swirl for a bit to help melt. See smoke wisps at all? Remove it from the heat. If it smells bitter and acrid in any way, you've burnt the sugar and will have to start again.
If the sugar is totally melted but it's too blonde in color, turn the heat up slightly until it develops an amber color. Remember it will lighten back up as you add the butter and cream.
STEP 6: Once the sugar fully melts and is amber in color, stir in one tablespoon of butter at a time. Then, add the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up at this point but will settle once the cream is incorporated. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the sea salt and vanilla and pour into a heat proof bowl.
Strain the caramel through a fine mesh sieve if there are still any chunks of sugar remaining.
Stir the caramel every few minutes to release some heat. Once it has started to thicken slightly, add it to the top of the brownie layer and spread evenly. Transfer the Caramel Brownie Pie to the fridge to set for about one hour.
STEP 7: Roughly chop the chocolate and add to a heat proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer, then pour over the chocolate and allow it to stand for about one minute. Using a small spatula, stir from the center, slowly moving outwards until the ganache completely comes together.
Pour the liquid ganache over the cool caramel and help it along to meet the edges. At this point, the ganache will set at room temperature in about 30 minutes, however, you could also place it back in the fridge if not ready to eat.
Before eating, sprinkle liberally with flaky sea salt, slice and enjoy!
If not eating the whole pie, immediately place plastic wrap on any of the cut pieces (no need to fully cover the ganache) to keep the caramel in place.
Store the pie in the fridge for up to one week. Leave the pie uncovered, but see the tip above regarding covering any cut sides. The caramel will ooze out otherwise.
FAQs & Tips
Fat (butter or oil), sugar, and slightly under baking your brownies!
Brownie batter tends to look grainy and the sugar does not follow the same creaming process as in a cake, so it's more noticeable. It will all melt in.
The quickest and easiest way to thicken caramel sauce is to cool it down in the fridge (or by placing the bowl in a bowl of ice water) and stirring occasionally to cool. This is why the pie goes into the fridge after the caramel is added.
Other recipes to try
- Chocolate Espresso Tart
- Blueberry White Chocolate Ganache Tart
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
- Cinnamon Panna Cotta Tart
Pin for Later
Caramel Brownie Pretzel Pie
- 8-or 9-inch pie dish or tart pan
- Food processor or high speed blender
- 1 ¼ cups ground mini pretzels (125g) or ~2.5 cups whole mini pretzels
- ½ cup pecan halves 50g
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted (113g)
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (25g)
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped (1.5 oz)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted (57g)
- 3 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder (18g)
- ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (92g)
- 1 egg whisked
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (30g)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (85g)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream (120g)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped (4oz)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream (120g)
- Flaky sea salt for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/177℃.
- Grind up the pretzels in a food processor until finely ground. Add the pecans and pulse until similarly broken down. Then, add the sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until the crumbs are completely moistened.
- Press the mixture into the base and sides of the tart pan or pie dish using the bottom of a measuring cup. This should be very compact.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
- Add the chocolate and butter to a bowl and heat in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until melted.
- Add the cocoa powder to the butter and chocolate and mix. Then add the sugar and whisked egg and mix. Fold in the flour and salt until just combined. Pour the brownie batter over the cooled pretzel crust and gently help it along to meet the edges of the crust.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes. It will look underdone and fudgy in the middle, but the edges will look set.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- While the pie is cooling, make the caramel. Add the sugar to a medium saucepan over medium-low to medium heat and stir about every 30 seconds until melted and turning amber. It will start to get wet, will then clump up and crystallize, then will begin to melt and change to an amber color.
- Add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to combine before adding the next tablespoon.
- Add the heavy cream and continue mixing. The caramel will bubble up at this point, but don’t be alarmed. Once combined, turn off the heat, add the salt and vanilla, and carefully pour into a heat proof bowl to cool slightly.
- Once the caramel has started to cool and get a bit thicker, pour the caramel over the brownie layer, then transfer the pie to the fridge to cool completely. About 1 hour.
- Add the chocolate chips to a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it just hits a simmer. Add the hot cream to the chocolate and allow it to sit for 1 minute.
- Using a spatula or spoon, continuously stir from the center until the mixture is combined. Pour over the cooled caramel layer and gently spread to reach all parts of the crust.
- Once the ganache is set, sprinkle the top with flaky finishing salt.