If you are on a New Year’s Resolution Diet, STOP READING. I’m about to share with you what I’m pretty sure is the richest, most decadent dessert to ever come out of my kitchen. What’s more, my favorite blogger, Annie of Annie’s Eats, says it’s her favorite dessert of 2011 and that’s really saying something because the things that come out of her kitchen are just mind-blowing.
Rich chocolate, toasty pecans, and a layer of caramel that is soft and oozy in just the right way–it’s like a more substantial turtle candy than a baked good. Beth of The Powdered Plum chose them back in March of 2011 for Project Pastry Queen and I’m so glad I had a wildcard week to go back and try them, because I can’t imagine not having this recipe around. These brownies are here at the office today to celebrate January birthdays (albeit a bit late–I can’t believe the flu put me in bed for a whole week!) along with a Boston Cream Pie that I’m pretty sure is going to be MY favorite dessert and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks! (Clearly I have no respect for my co-workers and their diets…or I can just say that I’m “testing them”–whatever doesn’t get eaten, after all, comes home with me!)
(Note: In writing out the recipe now, I realize I only used 1 stick of butter instead of 2 in the first step. Doh! The brownies taste fantastic, though, so if you want to leave out a stick of butter in the name of health, go for it. Also, perhaps because I added that splash of water I write about in the instructions below, the top layer is very fudgy, almost lava cake style, while the bottom layer is a bit stiffer, almost chewy–which makes sense because it was also baked twice. I also took the brownies out at the 20 minute mark on the dot so perhaps the top layer should have baked a tad longer but I do love how fudgy they turned out!)
Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather
- 2 cups pecans, chopped (Rebecca always toasts her pecans at 350 degrees for about 7-9 minutes but I always skip this step.)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 14 oz caramel candies, unwrapped (I used Werther’s caramels)
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9″ baking dish with tin foil and GREASE THE HECK out of the tin foil. If you don’t get every inch of the foil, the brownie and caramel will stick to it like there’s no tomorrow.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until everything is melted and smooth, then pour the chocolate into a large bowl.
- Mix the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, mixing by hand for about 2 minutes. Mix in the flour and salt until thoroughly combined.
- Pour approximately half the batter into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
- Once the first half of the brownies are done and cooling (let cool for at least 20 minutes), in a small saucepan melt the caramel candies in the whipping cream, whisking until smooth. Stir in half the pecans and pour immediately over the baked brownies.
- At this point, the leftover brownie batter was super stiff and Rebecca warns you won’t be able to easily spread it, so I added a splash of water to the batter to give it a little more “flow”. It could be because I forgot that extra stick of butter in the first step, but I’m not sure–just use your best judgement when you get to this step in your own kitchen. Evenly pour the rest of the brownie batter over the top of the caramel. It will be almost impossible to smooth the brownie mixture over the caramel (they’ll just mix together instead of staying separate layers), so be sure to pour the batter as evenly as possible. Smooth as best you can (I had a rim of caramel around the outside edge where I couldn’t get the batter to reach).
- Sprinkle the rest of the pecans over the top of the batter and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Let the brownies cool completely in the pan before cutting. The caramel will still be oozy even after they cool, so no need to worry about that. Rebecca suggests popping them in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed cooling if you just can’t wait. Enjoy! (and get right back on that New Year’s Diet as soon as you finish the pan)