Fifty Shades of Chicken or Foolproof?

Ina Garten’s Salted Caramel Brownies

My friend Eva (at KitchenInspirations) and I have been joking around for a while now that we should start a blog called Fifty Shades of Grey Cooks. I guess that it was only a matter of time before someone connected this literary phenomenon with cooking. It was bound to happen. So, really I wasn’t that surprized when I saw this book in the window of an Indigo Bookstore this week:

A quick google search revealed a few of the recipes that this recently-released book has in store: mustard spanked chicken and learning to truss you. Hmmm, I wonder if my spatchcocked chicken recipe made the cut?

I’m not sure if Fifty Shades of Chicken is going to be on my Christmas list, but this cookbook definitely is:

In fact, I’m positive that my mom is going to get it for me because I found it hidden in the room where she stays when she comes to visit. I couldn’t resist having a peek at the book, and well, when I saw the recipe for Salted Caramel Brownies, I knew that I couldn’t wait until Christmas to make them. Fortunately, the recipe is already online so there aren’t any chocolate smears on the book to give my secret away. (But, please don’t tell my mom that I was snooping!)

The brownies were just as good as I imagined that they would be. They combine Ina’s outrageous brownies with caramel and salt, so really, how can you go wrong?

I’m really excited that I have this book to look forward to. But I’m not sure what other cookbook I should add to my Christmas list. Any suggestions? My husband reads this blog and he never knows what to get me, so I’d really love it if you could point him in the right direction by leaving your cookbook suggestions in my comment section.

Blogiversary Cookbook Giveaway

In fact, as a little incentive, if you make a cookbook recommendation or just leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a cookbook. I’m in the mood to celebrate, since my one year blogiversary is coming up next week (Nov. 19). The winner will have a choice of either Fifty Shades of Chicken or Ina Garten’s Foolproof cookbook — I’ll contact you if you win and you can decide which book you’d like. If you also sign up to subscribe to my email updates from now until Nov. 19th, you’ll be entered a second time.

You can enter until November 19 at 12:00 EST. The draw will take place on November 20th — the winner will be drawn manually by one of the ponytails.

Even if you haven’t read the Fifty Shades books, you really must watch the trailer for Fifty Shades of Chicken by clicking here.

Salted Caramel Brownies

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Foolproof

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces plus 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1 1/3 cups + 1 cup)
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • ½ tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 to 6 ounces of caramel sauce (see note below)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons flaked sea salt (I used 1 ½ tsp fleur de sel)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan.

Melt the butter, 8 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature (see note).

In a medium bowl, sift together ½ cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and add to the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake.

As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in a microwave and heat just until it’s pourable. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt. Cool completely and cut into (12) bars or more, according to your preference.


  • When making the brownies, it is important to ensure that the batter cools before adding the chocolate chips, otherwise the chips will melt and ruin the batter.
  • Ina uses a 9′ x 12″ pan, but I find that the 9″ x 13″ pan is standard here in Canada. The 9″ x 13″ worked perfectly!
  • Ina suggests using true caramel sauce rather than dulce de leche, which has a lot of milk or cream added. She uses Fran’s. (
  • I used Lyons Caramel Sauce ,which I bought at Pusateri’s. I also really like Starbuck’s caramel sauce, which I have used for years.
  • If you have trouble finding caramel sauce, you can make your own. Please see fellow blogger A. Boleyn’s recipe here.
  • One 350 g bag of chocolate chips is approximately 12.7 ounces. Sissi, you’ll be happy to know that I finally bought a scale!
  • I adapted the recipe by reducing the amount of coffee and increasing the amount of vanilla to make these ponytail-friendly.
  • The giveaway is sponsored by me, not a publisher!

So, what’ll it be Fifty Shades of Chicken or Foolproof?


90 Comments on “Fifty Shades of Chicken or Foolproof?”

  1. Kristy says:

    My kids would be going nuts for these brownies Barb! Fifty Shades of Chicken…that’s hilarious! I can only imagine what they came up with. I think your spatchcocked chicken should certainly have a place in the book!!! Congratulations on one year of blogging coming up this week! I’m so happy that Eva introduced us. I do enjoy reading your blog and getting to know you Barb. Have a great week!

  2. I am drooling over this! It really looks inviting and perfectly made X

  3. Daphne Pressman says:

    This post is the best yet! I love those cookbooks, Manny and I were looking at them in a store today.

  4. Norma Chang says:

    Happy one year blogiversary on 11/19. Agree with Kristy, your spatchcocked chicken should have a place in that chicken cookbook. I can just taste the sea salt and hear the crunch when I bite into those brownies.

  5. A_Boleyn says:

    The psychic connection strikes again … I made roasted chicken breast today and dessert was the pumpkin cheesecake I made yesterday decorated with whipping cream and a salted caramel sauce. 🙂

    No cookbook buying for me. I need to start using the ones I already have on my shelves.

    • A_Boleyn says:

      PS: Happy Blogger-versary, Barb. All the best to you and your inspiring ponytails. 🙂

    • Your pumpkin cheesecake with salted caramel sauce looked AMAZING Maria! I’ve added a link to your site for anyone who wants to make their own caramel sauce. (I found the caramel sauce harder to find this time around.) I should be following your lead about the cookbooks, but I can’t seem to stop myself …even though I’m running out of space to put them.

      • A_Boleyn says:

        What’s even worse, with all the cookbooks I have, is the stack of recipes I’ve downloaded and printed out in order to make … someday. Although my list of recipes I’ve tried (usually with variations) is getting pretty extensive.

        Like the gulab jamun (recipe from the internet) and paneer/potato/pea samosas I’m making in the next couple of days. At least the pastry recipe for the samosas came out of one of my cookbooks. The Betty Crocker International Cookbook. It’s a great recipe and I’ve made the beef filling recipe for the samosas in the past but feel like a change.

  6. mmmarzipan says:

    Brownies do it for me every time- and these look particularly amazing! Dangerous! 😉

  7. Your photos are so perfect my friend especially regarding the gorgeous brownies 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Laura says:

    Ina’s book is on my xmas wish list too! Those brownies look amazing!

  9. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Oh my. That honestly looks amazing Barb, with the oozing caramel sauce. Will look up Ina Garten’s book – she’s not a cook we hear a lot about in Australia, but I’m intrigued! My two absolute favourite, dog-eared, well-thumbed, go-to cookbooks are ‘Arabesqu’e by Greg & Lucy Malouf (the 2007 revised edition has better photography). Greg Malouf is one of Melbourne’s best Middle Eastern chefs. I’ve cooked SO many recipes from this book – all amazing. Also love ‘In The Kitchen: More Than 1000 Recipes For Every Day’ by Allan Campion & Michele Curtis, (2008 edition is a better re-print, with hardcover). I refer to this one constantly. Oh, and Tessa Kiros ‘Apples for jam’… Sorry, I really could go on and on about cookbooks…
    PS. Congrats on your upcoming blogaversary!

  10. Mercedes says:

    The Vescovi’s can attest as to how good the brownies turned out. The sample you sent us today lasted one minute in our house…Jay and Gabi had a fight over the last one. Thank you! Like Gabi rightfully said, you should be in Top Chef Just Desserts!

    • Glad you enjoyed them — you really did me a favour (I must have eaten half of the pan!). Gabi was hiliarious — I think she was worried that Jay wouldn’t let her have any more brownie when she got home…she was desperate to have another bite before she got home!!!! Too cute!

  11. musingmar says:

    OMG that’s just too funny! While my curiosity was piqued, truly I think the 50 Shades of Chicken trailer was enough for me! I would definitely go for Ina’s book; I have 7 of her books already – something of a collection, wouldn’t you say? Happy upcoming Blogiversary! Mine was in October and I wish I’d thought of something like your draw to celebrate. Looking forward to the announcement of the winner (me, me, me!).

    • Oh that trailer was just toooo much. I was killing myself watching it. Yes, that is something of a collection and I’m right there with you. I use them quite a lot though, how about you? Good luck in the draw — it would be nice to complete your collection!

      • musingmar says:

        I use Ina’s (we’re on a first name basis, she just doesn’t know it 😊) books quite a bit. I do cut back on the butter sometimes, though! I l enjoy reading through her books. I like the way she talks about food, and I appreciate her entertaining tips. It’s a real art to make it seem easy! And finally, I like how a sense of home and comfort and love for her husband shine through her work.

        Gosh, I sound like a fan, don’t I?

  12. Happy One Year blogiversary to you! It has been a wonderful year and looking forward to many more years of delicious recipes and antics. I am very excited that you “might” be getting the Contessa’s new cook book for x-mas because I know you will be testing many more delicious things from her book on your blog. Salted carmel is like food for the gods dripping with goodness. Take care, BAM

    • “Food for the Gods, dripping with goodnes” — I couldn’t have said it better myself Bam. Thanks for your kind words. I’ve learned so much from your blog over the past few months, so I’m thankful to be connected. Take care!

  13. daisyandthefox says:

    these brownies look amazing!!!! 🙂
    annnd bookmarked 🙂

  14. oh my goodness those brownies sound AMAZING! I made a salted caramel chocolate layer cake a few months ago after a trip to France introduced me to the joys of salted caramel and it’s been a love affair ever since. I’m going to have to give these a go!

  15. naughty you for snooping! But good god, if not then these brownies wouldn’t have been posted, and they look AMAZING.

  16. petit4chocolatier says:

    I love every single thing about this brownie; especially the addition of instant coffee granules, chocolate chips and a caramel topping. I love Starbucks caramel sauce and never heard of Lyons. Is that local? The picture of the caramel dripping made me so hungry for these : )

  17. Beth says:

    I would love to get the Barefoot Contessa cookbook for Christmas – unless I win it here! Fingers crossed!

    As for cookbook recommendations, I’m assuming you already have all of Ina’s books, so I’ll tell you about my new favourite. Fresh & Green Table, by Susie Middleton, is full of healthy and delicious meals. I love everything I’ve tried!

  18. Sarah says:

    I spent part of last Friday looking for a recipe for salted caramel brownies to make for a friend. The recipes I found all sounded complicated – like they might end up a disaster in my hands, so I just made the standard chocolate variety in the end. If I’d had your blog post I would definitely have had a go at the salted caramel ones!

  19. Eva Taylor says:

    Happy blogiversary, my friend. What a lovely give-away! My parents wedding anniversary is on the 19th too. Hard to believe you’ve been blogging for an entire year.
    Thank you kindly for the shout out, Barbie. I thought I commented on this last night, but alas, it doesn’t appear, so my phone must have eaten it. Can’t blame the phone, salted caramel brownies? You just took an old favourite to the next level. 50 Shades of Chicken? That does take trussing that baby to an entirely new level, that’s for sure! ;-).
    I recommend Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia,

  20. You can never go wrong with Ina!

  21. Sissi says:

    Barb, I’m thrilled to learn you also haven’t lost the naughty child in you and peek into your Christmas gifts before Christmas 😉 I used to do it all my life! I knew where my parents used to hide all the presents and pretended didn’t know the place for years, so they never changed until… a huge chocolate once disappeared from a big bag of gifts which were intended for some other children from the family 😉 It sounds like you will have great time cooking with your present.
    The brownies look extraordinary and the caramel sauce just makes me want to skip the dinner tonight and start baking brownies instead. Happy Blogiversary!

    • I’m glad that I’m not the only one with a little bit of naughty in my blood! Those poor children…were you the culprit???

      Yes, I hope to have a long and happy friendship with this book. I really am looking forward to Christmas so that i can have a proper look through the book. I’m going to let you go so that you can go bake brownies. You won’t regret it!

  22. Ali says:

    Congratulations on your upcoming first blogiversary! I’m glad I decided to read my blogs today even though I was going to try and have a week’s break! Hahaha! I can’t believe there really is a 50 shades of Chicken book! And I love that you’ve not only found the cookbook you’re getting from Christmas, but you’ve cooked from it too!
    My two favourite cookbooks this year have been Marian Keyes, “Saved by Cake” and Australian Women’s Weekly (magazine) Celebrity Cookbook “At my Mother’s Knee”. So, the second one may not be available for you over there (maybe it’s on Amazon??), but it’s a great book that has Australian celebrities providing their favourite recipes and it organises them in decades (starting post-world war 2) and in cuisine. I love a cookbook that has a bit of a story with it.

    • It is always good to have a break Ali! Looking forward to checking out your recommendations — hopefully they are available here in Canada. I enjoy a cookbook with a story to it as well, so the second one sounds good. One of my first cookbooks was from my trip to Australia …it’s a Thai Cookbook and it is still a favourite!

  23. Oh.My.Goodness! Those brownies look divine!

  24. Anne says:

    Happy early blogiversary Barb! The brownies look fabulous and uber rich & chocolatey! I love the idea of having coffee in brownies. It’s so up my alley! Yum…. 🙂

  25. Tandy says:

    Foolproof would be my choice. I can highly recommend Larousse Gastronomique for a great reference and recipe book 🙂

  26. The movie trailer is just unbelievable! I’m not sure who to take to see it.. my husband or my girlfriends, lol, or just wait for a DVD:D Yes, that book was just begging to be whipped up in print;) Doesn’t your mom read your blog? My parents do, so I must be careful and drop some Christmas hints for them as well:) Cookbooks, I would have said Ina’s too.. maybe The Complete Magnolia Bakery cookbook for sweets? xx

    • The trailer is too funny, isn’t it?

      You ask a great question Barb. My mom doesn’t have a computer or internet service. She reads the blog on my iPad when she comes to visit — and she’ll come again right before Christmas. Too be honest, I plan to tell her about this post and my exploring in her room She’ll find it funny, as she no longer worries about “surprizing” me with my presents. I’m afraid I’ve become too hard to buy for. Thanks for the cookbook tip!

  27. Omg I was sitting here trying to work out why you put chicken into brownies. LOL. I’m with you now. Those brownies look incredible! I haven’t read 50 shades of grey and I don’t think I will. I’de be more interested in your Christmas present!

    • Yes, I could see how at first glance the chicken and brownies don’t seem to go together. I read the books before I knew the overall concept and they are pure fantasy. At least now I know what everybody is talking about! (BTW, love your blog!)

  28. erika says:

    Hooo wowww those brownies look absolutely incredible. And what an exciting giveaway! I honestly can’t recommend any cookbooks since I don’t really use them, but I would like to use more of them! So I started compiling a list and Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce is at the top of my list–I love baking with whole grains, but I hear she does it masterfully. Also, Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes definitely looks like a winner since I love my layer cakes. And given all that I’ve heard about this, Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen sounds like a vegetarian’s bible! But anyway. Wonderful looking brownies!!!

  29. Happy Blogversary 🙂 LOL I’ve seen that Fifty Shades of chicken before, not sure how interested I am in buying it but it is quite funny ~ Ohhh these brownies look super decadant could totally eat some right now!

  30. Ha ha! I’ll join your Fifty Shades of Grey Cooks blog…I love it! What wicked, wicked brownies these are. My two favorite flavors together, caramel and chocolate…plus sea salt equals divine! I’m sure these taste even better than they look and that’s saying a lot! I can see now that I’ll need to add Foolproof to my Ina collection. Hadn’t seen 50 shades of Chicken, but that’s hilarious. Thanks for sharing and for making me laugh!

    • I’m glad I made you laugh Betsy! I’m still chuckling over the 50 shades of chicken myself… My only advice to making these brownies is to be sure to make them when you are having company. I swear I ate half the pan and now I have some work to do!

  31. Charles says:

    Hi Barb – well done on your impending blogiversary! Does that really mean that roughly this time last year I was visiting you here for the first time? Wow, time has really flown by, but at the same time it seems I’ve known you much longer!

    That book is so funny, is it really written by “FL Fowler”, or is that a pseudonym? 😀 Haha, Surely that’s *too* much of a coincidence :D. Those brownies look absolutely wonderful too. I do love me a good tasty brownie!

    If dear husband wanted tips then I’d really recommend the two books I reviewed on my site a while back: “Ratio“, or “What’s a Cook to do?“. Both of those are SO useful, especially the second one, you’d love it!

    Failing that, “From Plate to Pixel” by Helene Dujardin is always a good read to learn about food styling and photography!

    • Time does fly by doesn’t it???

      The book is a parody, so the FL Fowler is to emulate the original book’s author E.L. James. So your instincts are right — to much of a coincidence.

      I like a good brownie too Charles. Well, a little too much. I’m ashamed to say how much of that pan I ate.

      I have Helene’s book From Plate to Pixel….I think I first got the suggestion from your site. I’m not familiar with Ratio or What’s a Cook to Do…so I will check those out.

      BTW, I’m enjoying shopping for the Secret Santa exchange. Such a great idea Charles!

  32. I love salty chocolate! So this looks absolutely gorgeous.

  33. Sophie33 says:

    Your salted caramel brownies look to die for,..Really excellent food! Yummmmm!

  34. I am speechless – This looks SO good!! Common – salty chocolate caramel brownie – yum 🙂

  35. Congratulations on one year of blogging Barb 🙂 I am very happy to have found your wonderful blog..I enjoy reading your posts and love your insights into life and parenting
    I missed the giveaway but I wanted to tell you that I already follow your blog, on wordprss and via email
    Keep up those wonderful posts coming and wishsing you many more wonderful years of blogging

    • Thanks Sawsan! I absolutely adore your blog — you are so talented and such an inspiration to me! I must say that I can’t believe that a year has passed already! I would love to spend some time designing the blog and getting out there to comment more — but I guess there isn’t time for everything!

      • I know what you mean about the lack of time!
        I missed dozens of post over the past couple of weeks and I finally decided to stop appologizing and just do what I can .
        About the blog design and changing the look of it.. I can help with a small fraction. I am good with photoshop and if you would like to change the header or the back ground send me the pictures you would like to use and I could make you a special header for your blog or a special background

        • I know that feeling of guilt that we can carry around when we miss posts. I think ultimately people understand that we do the best we can and that sometimes we can’t keep up! Thanks for your very kind offer. I’m going to try to spend some time thinking about it over the holidays, so I may just take you up on that if I can get my act together. I do appreciate it that you’d offer. So kind of you! Have a great weekend!

  36. Nicole da Rosa says:

    This salted caramel brownie looks amazing!
    Such as your photos…

  37. hehehehe….everything about this post is absolute awesomeness 😀 especially the brownies! 😀

  38. Just discovered your blog…love it!! Fifty Shades of Chicken, HILARIOUS!

  39. […] as I had forgotten all about the book recommendations that many of you left on the blog post for my book giveaway in November. I owe a special thanks to Tandy from Lavender and Lime for recommending this book. […]

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