My friend Katie over at The Perfect Brownie is on a hunt for just that. She has them broken down by type, texture, taste, you name it, all in the search to find everyone’s version of the perfect brownie. A couple of weeks ago she asked if I’d like to do a guest post for her with my favourite brownie, and so, here we are.
Christmas is coming, and I remember as a kid always being excited when the boxes of Turtles chocolates started showing up at the house. My grandparents were always dropping boxes of them off with a bottle of wine for the people they worked with throughout the year, but there were always a few extra boxes around the house. Nothing could beat that smooth caramel with little bites of salty pecans. Pure heaven.
So, when I started throwing ideas back and forth with my cousin about what would make the perfect brownie, it took us about .02 seconds to agree on nuts and caramel, and nothing more.
Super-nerd that I can be at times, I also figured that before I got started, I should see how brownies got started (inspiration can come from the oddest of places, and all that). The first brownie recipe didn’t appear until 1897 in (get this), a Sears, Roebuck catalog, and they were small little personal sized cakes made from molasses (so not really what we think of today). In 1906 the Boston School Cookbook added chocolate to the recipe, but still cooked them in individual little tins. It wasn’t actually until the 1920’s that they started gaining any popularity.
I know – why the hell does this matter, you just want the recipe. Well, I loved the idea of the brownies being cooked in individual little pans, so that’s exactly what I did. I was just careful to line the bottom with a little circle of parchment, then grease them really well. I had no problem just popping the warm little brownies out with a knife and dropping them onto a plate. And then adding a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream, because I could.
Enjoy these! And don’t forget to head over the The Perfect Brownie for more incredible brownie recipes!
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- salt (to taste)
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups white sugar
- 10 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 10 tbsp butter
- ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk, room temperature
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 cup chopped toasted pecans, divided
- 1 cup salted caramel sauce, divided
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Place your sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Let it melt slowly, without stirring.
- When the sugar has melted, add the butter to the pan, and gently swirl to melt and combine.
- Cook until the mixture reaches 340ºF on a candy or instant read thermometer, then remove from the heat immediately. The sugar will be a medium-to-deep amber colour, but should not smell burnt at all.
- As soon as you remove from the heat, whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined, then set aside to cool. It will thicken as it cools. The sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to two months.
- Place the chopped pecans into a fry-pan set over medium heat. Toss the nuts occasionally to prevent burning, and toast until lightly browned and nutty smelling (about 3 minutes). Toss in a generous pinch of salt to taste. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Line the bottom of an 8" square pan or individual tins with parchment paper, then grease generously. Set aside.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a large bowl set over a pan of boiling water, and whisk until melted. Set the bowl aside until the mixture returns to room temperature.
- Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture (it will look grainy). Whisk in the eggs and extra yolk.
- Sift the flour into the bowl, then use a large spatula to fold it in until no dry flour remains. Fold in ¼ cup of the toasted pecans.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s).
- Drop heaping tablespoons of the caramel sauce occasionally on the top of the brownie batter and use a knife to swirl it into the batter (use should use roughly ¾ to 1 cup of the sauce). Top generously with the remaining toasted pecans.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs (but not wet batter) attached. If using individual sides pans reduce the baking time accordingly (start checking at 15 minutes).
- Allow to cool in the pan(s). Drizzle with the leftover caramel sauce before serving.