Saturday, February 6, 2010

Deluxe Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Brownies

Deluxe Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Brownies - made February 6, 2010 from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you - yes, those are nuts on top of the brownies I baked. I've ranted enough against nuts in brownies to make you doubt but in this particular case, nuts on top of brownies are okay. They can remain crisp when they're baked on top of the brownie unlike nuts folded into the actual batter which get soggy. This is another good, basic, fudgy brownie. The pecan crunch on top is actually a nice contrast with the brownie as there's both some crunch and a bit of sweetness against the chocolate brownie. Toast the pecans first and let them cool before making the crunch. Even though they'll toast some more while the brownies are baking, I still like to toast them beforehand to bring out their flavor. Don't overbake - these are perfect when they're fudgy. This picture is from when I first made this recipe back in 2003. For the batch I made today, I actually chopped up the pecans a bit more - that makes for easier cutting of the brownies when they're cool since you don't have to slice through whole nuts.

Pecan Crunch
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Chocolate Pecan Brownies
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cake flour (not self rising)
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pecans
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan.
Make the pecan crunch
2. In a small bowl, thoroughly toss together the pecans and brown sugar. Stir the vanilla extract into the melted butter, and toss the pecans with the butter mixture until well coated. Set aside.
Make the brownies
3. Sift together the flours, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, toss the chocolate morsels with 1 ¼ teaspoons of the sifted mixture to coat. Set both mixtures aside.
4. In the top of a double boiler, over barely simmering water, heat the butter, unsweetened chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool until tepid.
5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Sift the flour mixture over the top and slowly whisk it in, mixing just until blended. Stir in the chocolate morsels and chopped pecans (not the pecan crunch mixture).
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly, and smooth the top, using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the pecan crunch evenly over the top of the batter. Bake the brownies for 40 to 45 minutes, or until puffed and set. A toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
7. Cool the brownies completely in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm enough to cut.
8. Cut the brownies into 16 squares. Just before serving, sprinkle a list dusting of sifted confectioners’ sugar over the top of the brownies, if you like.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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