Easy Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies I’ve talked a little bit about my sister Sara before, but not much about my other sister Jean. Jean is my oldest sister; older than me by ten years, and was therefore somewhat of a second mom  hero to me growing up (I mean…what else do you call someone who fed you waffles and ice cream for breakfast on occasion?)

Caramel Brownies

the very picture of a well-loved, often-used recipe

It is because of Jean that I rolled my jeans and curled my bangs for just a few years past those trends’ expiration dates. And when Jean decided to be a nurse, I decided to follow suit, at the tender age of seven. And I went through most of elementary and middle school assuming I’d be a nurse too…until I took chemistry and hated it…and then realized that I get completely nauseous at the sight of blood and that I panic in emergencies. #notnursingmaterial

My sister Jean

Jean got married when I was in sixth grade and moved to upstate New York immediately after. Before the days of Skype and email, I felt as though she were moving to a different galaxy, and I pretty much sobbed for three days straight after the wedding was over. I cried so much that my poor dad even offered to pay me to come help him at one of his construction sites just to distract me….Not one to turn down an easy buck even then, I sniffled my way through a few hours of holding the end of a tape measure but certainly did not allow it to console me.

Caramel Brownies Jean eventually moved back to Wisconsin and started having babies, and being an aunt was one of the high points of my adolescence…even when her eldest (at the age of 4) almost cut off my entire pony tail while I was bent over tying my shoe.

Jean is still one of my heroes…she has endured some crazy hardships over the past few years, and her steadfast faith has been nothing short of inspiring to me. She is one of the most kind and compassionate people I know. Plus…every time I hit a milestone birthday, like this last one, I think…well, Jean’s ten years older than this, and she’s still pretty cool. So, that’s helpful.

Easy Caramel Brownies Finally, Jean is an excellent baker. When I’m old and moneyed, I will start a soup and sandwich/coffee shop, and Jean, with the help of my friends Jen and Heidi, will head up the bakery section. She makes fudge. She makes a killer cheesecake. And she is the source of these caramel brownies.

These brownies are my go-to dessert…they are ooey-gooey and always turn out moist. The best part is, they can be made, from start to finish, in about 35 minutes, not including the time for them to cool. I always make these the day before serving them, and because of all their caramely goodness, they stay moist overnight, no problem.

Easy Caramel Brownies

I don’t usually use box mixes for things, but for these, I make an exception. The brownies are basically made of a base of German chocolate cake mix, plus melted butter, a middle melted layer of caramel and chocolate chips, plus dollops of the cake mixture on top. They are super rich and go best with a cup of coffee, glass of milk, or you know, vanilla ice cream. And don’t tell Jean, but I would give these to her kids for breakfast…because everybody knows that leftover brownies are totally the breakfast of champions.

Easy Caramel Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

(recipe from my sister Jean) (yields one 13x9" pan of brownies)

These caramel brownies are sweet and moist, with a gooey caramel layer in the middle. They are easy to make and can be made in about a half hour.


one (14 oz.) bag of caramels (I typically use Kraft)

one 12-13 oz. can evaporated milk, DIVIDED

1 box German chocolate cake mix (I use Pillsbury's "Moist Supreme" version)

3/4 c. butter

1 c. milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350*. Thoroughly grease and flour a 13x9" pan.

Unwrap caramels and place them in a small sauce pan with 1/2c. of the evaporated milk. Turn heat to med-low and slowly melt the caramel mixture, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium bowl. Once melted, mix the butter, cake mix, and a 1/3 c. of the evaporated milk until totally combined.

Take HALF of the cake batter mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan with your fingers and palms to form a VERY thin layer. Make sure it is spread evenly, to all the corners.

Bake this thin layer for 8 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the cake layer, then pour the melted caramel mixture over (again be sure to pour it somewhat evenly). Then, pick up small chunks (1/2-inch dollops) of the cake batter mixture with your fingers, and drop the dollops over the caramel.

Return the pan to the oven for 18 more minutes. (Note: when the time is up, the brownies will still look/feel very mushy. They will set as they cool.) Remove from oven and let cool for at least 2 hours. These can be made a day ahead of time if kept uncut and covered (at room temperature) overnight. They keep well at room temperature in an airtight container for about 2-3 days before starting to dry out.)

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20 thoughts on “Easy Caramel Brownies

  1. AWWW!!! So Sweet! I feel famous!

    For those bakers out there…the original baker (me) suggests Betty Crocker german chocolate cake mix and milk chocolate chips by Nestle. These make the difference in my opinion! :) Liz still makes a mean caramel brownie!!!

  2. Oooh la la! What pretty little temptresses! These brownies look fabulous with the ooey gooey chewy caramel! MM! The story about your sister is so charming…I curled my bangs for far too long too and have a similar relationship with my sister, who also has fun loving children to play with. Love the delicious recipe and photos!

  3. My mother has a similar recipe and makes these brownies at Christmas time. After seeing your photos, I can imagine how they taste. Chocolate and caramel are my all-time favorites. Thanks for posting the recipe Liz.

    • You could probably use any chocolate cake. I found this explanation of the differences in flavor between chocolate cake mixes:
      Dark Chocolate– most likely made with dutch cocoa.. deep chocolate flavor
      Swiss Chocolate.. lighter chocolate.. lighter flavor.. kind of like milk chocolate
      German Chocolate.. made with a sweet, light german chocolate.. usually frosted with a coconut pecan frosting.
      (Note: the site this info came from was comparing Duncan Hines mixes, but I’m guessing other brands would be similar.)
      So you might have a slight flavor difference…maybe slightly less sweet. I haven’t tried it, but if you do, let me know how you like it!

  4. How do these travel? Should I freeze them? I plan on making them Monday and traveling on Tuesday…eating them Wednesday. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • They travel pretty well, and what’s better they stay pretty moist. My advice would be to make them as late in the day on Monday as possible, and once completely cool, cover tightly with a couple of layers of plastic wrap (or a tight-fitting lid). They’ll stay really moist if you leave them uncut. You don’t need to freeze or refrigerate them, but obviously, you don’t want them to be super hot either (like sitting in the sun or in a hot car). I think once I made these on a Thursday, followed the suggestions above, and dug into them on a Sunday and they were fine. Good luck!

      • Thanks! I’ll try not to cut them. They’ll be going in a cooler so not too cold or too hot. They look great and I can’t wait to try them. Milk chocolate is an interesting choice too because I usually find those chips dry out quickly like if I make milk chocolate chips.

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