In the world of brownies, there are two different camps. There are those who like the chewy, gooey kind and those who like the cake-y kind. I am a member of the former school of thought. Personally, I believe a brownie should be fudgy, chewy and rich enough to satisfy any chocolate craving. The cake-y kind, to me, is just that–cake. But this is just my opinion! This is like asking someone who makes the best barbeque–the answers always vary. But everyone knows its Eastern Carolina style : )
Everyone should have a go to recipe for brownies. They are fast, versatile and oh so comforting. The following brownie recipe can be eaten plain, a la mode, as the “bread” for ice cream sandwiches, crumbled up in ice cream or in a milkshake. I could keep going but I think you get the hint. Here I have made a delicious “Turtle” brownie by simply topping the brownies with a thick smear of dulce de leche (which I made but can easily be purchased) and then topped that with chopped crunchy candied walnuts. Yes, they are real and they are spectacular. Grab a cup of coffee–and several napkins–its time to make brownies that are literally finger lickin’ good
4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)
4 oz high quality bittersweet chocolate (70% preferred), chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh brewed coffee
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
Candied Walnuts (recipe follows), or any nuts, chopped (recipe follows)
1 can dulce de leche (about 14 oz)
Spray an 8 or 9 inch pan with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, coffee and brown sugar. Heat over medium heat until butter melted and mixture is smooth. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and mix until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Use a whisk if you have one to blend well. If you dont have a whisk–use a spatula! Allow mixture to cool slightly. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and break them up. Slowly add the egg to the chocolate mixture and gently blend until no egg remains. Add the flour and salt and fold them into the mixture until combined. Stir in vanilla.
Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake until a fudgy crumb still clings to a toothpick when inserted into the center of the pan, about 20-30 minutes. Reduce oven to 325 F if making candied walnuts. Allow brownies to cool. Meanwhile, make the candied walnuts.
1/2 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
2 cups walnut halves
Maldon salt or other flaky or course salt
Toss the walnuts in the syrup. Line a jelly roll pan or half sheet pan with a silpat liner (I would not recommend parchment here). Spread the walnuts out on the pan and top with several pats of butter (about 6-8 pieces). Roast in oven, stirring every 15 minutes until golden, caramel colored and sticky. Sprinkle immediately with coarse or flaky salt. Cool and chop for brownie top. Use any leftovers in salads–they are delicious!!
Now back to the brownies! Spread the top of the cooled brownies with however much dulce de leche you want. Then smother that layer with chopped candied walnuts. Now, if you want to eat them right away, I suggest serving with a fork. Otherwise, chill in the refrigerator so it will be easier to cut. The dulce de leche will remain soft and tacky so I don’t recommend stacking them. Store in the refrigerator for ease of handling.
Tips from A Cook: If you don’t have coffee for the brownies–use water! Coffee adds depth to the chocolate flavor. If you don’t want to candy walnuts, then don’t! Toasted, salted nuts taste delicious too!
Relax! It’s just baking!