These deep, dark, fudge brownies have two secret ingredients that give them more dimension and depth – soy sauce and a miso caramel layer!
Last year there was a recipe bouncing around the internet for soy sauce brownies by the lovely Hettie McKinnon that got a lot of folks excited. The idea of adding earthy umami packed salty soy sauce into brownies made sense to me. In truth, I’m a little jealous I hadn’t thought of it first! But then I realized that I could swap out in the salt and espresso powder in my favorite fudge brownie recipe with soy sauce AND also add in a layer of miso caramel into the brownies to pump up the funky salt factor, much like I did with my miso peanut butter chip cookies and my pistachio cranberry cookies.
The result is a super-rich, complex-flavored brownie that is absolutely next level. The minute I served it to friends, they couldn’t place the special secret ingredients in the brownie, but they wanted seconds and third helpings, and immediately asked for the recipe. So here it is finally, that double secret ingredient brownie recipe that everyone who loves brownies needs to try immediately!
How to make these brownies
These brownies are similar to my classic easy fudge brownies that have the shiny meringue topping. But I also add in a layer of miso caramel and swap out the salt and espresso powder for soy sauce. First make the caramel by cooking the white sugar in a large skillet, then whisking in butter and miso. Set aside the caramel to cool.
Then make the brownie batter by combining eggs, vanilla and soy sauce, then whisk in cocoa. Add in melted butter and sugar, then fold in flour, baking powder and then the chocolate chips. Pour half of the brownie batter into a prepared pan, add the miso caramel, and spoon on the rest of the brownie batter on top. Then bake!
Tips on making caramel
Caramel is one of those daunting items to make for a lot of folks. But as long as you take a few precautions, it’s nothing to be scared of! Here are a few tips to help you out, if you’ve never made caramel before.
- Use a silver bottom pan: If you are not familiar with making caramel, use a light -colored pan, one that is silver or white on the bottom, so you can watch the color of the sugar. If you have tons of experience with making caramel, feel free to use a dark colored pan if you’d like for easy clean up. But even though I make caramel fairly often, I pretty much always reach for a silver bottom pan just so I can monitor the sugar color.
- Place a bowl of ice water nearby: If you are super concerned about burning yourself, keep a bowl of ice water nearby to splash on your hand or arms if molten sugar touches your skin. I’ve never had to use my bowl of ice water, but it’s always nice to know it’s nearby if I need it.
- Use a low heat: Low heat is best for those who are not familiar with how sugar caramelizes. It takes much longer, so I usually recommend first initially cooking the sugar with a hot heat, until the sugar starts to melt, then lowering the heat. But if you’re not familiar with making caramel, just use a low heat the entire time and a little more patience. Keep in mind that sugar can go from a beautiful golden brown to a burnt black quickly, so try not to get distracted near the end of the caramel making process.
- Keep kids and pets away: Finally, if you have children, pets or chatty spouses/roommates, tell them to give you a break while you make caramel. You don’t want to get distracted while you make it, as the caramel is easy to burn. Plus the molten sugar is crazy hot and can burn you (or your loved ones) so best to make the caramel alone.
What type of cocoa to use
I used Dutch-processed cocoa in these brownies because it is really dark colored cocoa that has a rich mellow flavor that pairs well with the soy sauce and the miso caramel. It’s fairly easy to find at a well-stocked grocery store. Popular and common Dutch-processed cocoa include Hershey’s Special Dark, Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge, Ghiradelli’s 100% Cocoa Dutch Process, Rodelle’s Baking cocoa, and Droste Cocoa. You can buy it online as well if you can’t source it at a local store. But be sure to buy unsweetened cocoa, and not cocoa meant for hot chocolate. That stuff has sugar already added.
If you don’t have Dutch-processed cocoa, you can use the same amount of regular natural cocoa powder in this recipe but omit the baking powder and use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in its place. The resulting brownie will be a little less fudgy in texture and lighter in color.
What type of miso and soy sauce to use and their role in the brownies
Both miso and soy sauce add a touch of saltiness which compliments the fudgy sweetness in the brownies, as well as an earthy nutty umami layer that gives the brownie an extra level of dimension and depth.
I used a regular or normal soy sauce in this recipe. You can also use low sodium or light soy sauce if that’s what you have. Do not use sweet soy sauce or dark soy sauce, as they both are stronger in flavor.
Miso comes in a few different varieties. I use red miso, which is the strongest miso flavor. But you can use yellow or white miso if that’s what you have on hand. Just increase the miso amount to 3 tablespoons instead of two. If you don’t have miso on hand, or wish to skip the miso, you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of peanut butter instead. It will give a nutty richness to the caramel that is a closer proximity to the miso than if you just omitted it.
How to store these brownies
These brownies keep well, improving in texture as they sit around! I like to eat them the day after they are baked. But you can eat them day of. Keep them at room temperature for up to 3 days under a cake dome or in an airtight container. You can keep them for up to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
If you like these miso caramel soy sauce brownies, check out these other brownies and chocolate desserts
- Rye Brownies with Caramel and Sea Salt
- Neapolitan Brownies
- Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
- Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Banana Bread
- Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Reverse Pan Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Crackle Cookies
- Monster Cookies
- Hot Chocolate Cookies
Miso Caramel Soy Sauce Brownies
- 1 cup white sugar 200 g
- 7 tablespoons butter unsalted
- 2 tablespoon red miso or 3 tablespoons white or yellow miso
- 4 large eggs refrigerator cold
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup Dutch-process cocoa 110 g
- 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks or 225 g
- 2 cups white sugar 400 g
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 175
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups chocolate chips or chopped chocolate 340 g
- Make the miso caramel by placing the sugar in a large skillet or sauté pan. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the sugar starts to melt. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until the sugar has all turned golden caramel brown.
- Once the sugar has turned to caramel, remove from heat. Whisk in the butter and caramel. The caramel will steam, bubble and sputter as you add it, so use caution. If the caramel seizes up and hardens, just place it back on the stove and gently heat it until the harden parts dissolve. Then set the caramel aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray or brush a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with cooking oil. Line it with parchment paper.
- Make the brownie batter by placing the eggs, soy sauce, vanilla, and eggs, in a bowl and mixing thoroughly with a whisk until uniform in color.
- Add the cocoa powder to the egg mixture and mix together to form a paste.
- Melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave until liquid, then stir in sugar. You can also heat and melt the butter on the stove if you don’t have a microwave or don’t wish to use it.
- Stir in the butter sugar mixture to the cocoa egg mixture. Add the flour and baking powder, folding it in until there are just a few streaks of dry ingredients left.
- Add the chocolate chips and continue to mix and fold them in, until evenly distributed and all the flour is absorbed.
- Spread about 1/2 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
- Add the miso caramel over the brownie batter, spread it so it reaches the edges.
- Then spoon the remaining brownie batter over the caramel and spread it carefully over the caramel. Let it sit for 1 or 2 minutes, or until the top of the brownie batter has a glossy sheen to it. Then place in the oven and bake for 23 to 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle in few places comes out clean (you want to check a few places in case your toothpick hits a chocolate chip). Try not to overbake the pan.Let rest in the pan until cool completely – preferably overnight if you can wait that long. Then carefully cut and serve. The brownies improve in flavor and texture if you let them sit overnight, but they’re still great the day of.