Brownies announce to the world a message to not take everything so seriously. The vision alone, of a pyramid-style plateful of thick and fudgy brownies would boost anyone’s serotonin levels. Think beyond the obvious (children, bake sales and upcoming holiday cookie swaps), as they add whimsy and child-like fun to even your most sophisticated soiree, because just about everyone loves brownies, right? I’ve made these super-easy, terrific brownies countless times over the last almost 30 (!) years, and as the title says, they are truly beloved by my son, Ben (he would devour an entire plateful if I had let him). The original recipe, Caramel Fudge Pecan Brownies has been adapted from one of my very favorite authors as well as cookbooks, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts, which is now out of print, but I’m sure you can find a copy on the internet somewhere. I have used that cookbook so many times over the years, there is flour in the binding, chocolate droppings on the margin…you get the picture….love it when my cookbooks develop those characteristics.
If you are allergic to nuts, go ahead and just leave them out, although you may find that you have to bake slightly longer, but they are still so good, I wouldn’t let a nut allergy hold me back! And, they are freezable, so you can make these ahead now for the upcoming holidays, or use the freezer to dole out your treats in individual portions (good luck with that). For very large brownies, cut into 16 individual pieces, or cut them into pieces as small as 48 – I, myself usually hover somewhere in the 32 piece category.
I generally use my microwave to store my oven mitts and other sundry items in my kitchen, especially now that my apartment kitchen is teeny tiny and I need every available inch of space. But the one great thing to use a microwave for is to successfully and easily melt chocolate without it seizing by lowering the cooking power to 50%. At 100% cooking power, the chocolate will definitely seize, so if you have a microwave, go stare at it and locate that feature. It also helps to melt chocolate and butter together, somehow the butter adds magical insulation and the chocolate is further protected from seizing. If you are adamantly against microwaving, then just melt the butter and chocolate on the stove over low heat and you’ll be fine. As for chocolate, I generally go with Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Bar and the Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Bar, both which come conveniently in 4 ounce bars. Lastly, I love these brownies because it is so easy to make this recipe with children, (although a full-sized human should handle the microwave part).
Enjoy them, I hope they become a member of your favorite recipes file as they have mine!
- 4 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate, broken in pieces
- 2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, broken in pieces
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into large chunks
- Vegetable oil spray or butter for baking dish
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup cane sugar
- 1 pound dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups whole pecans
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, place chocolates and butter. Set microwave to 50% power, and cook until melted, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Alternatively, melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stir until smooth, and pour into a large bowl before continuing with the recipe.
- Meanwhile, adjust a rack to middle of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
- Line a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish neatly with foil; fold overhang around edges of the pan. Spray foil with vegetable oil or spread butter with a piece of wax paper and set dish aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
- Once chocolate mixture is melted and smooth, add both sugars and vanilla; stir until combined. Add eggs one at a time, and stir until thoroughly combined after each addition.
- Add flour mixture and stir until combined.
- Sprinkle whole pecans over batter and stir until combined.
- Scrape batter evenly into pan and smooth into place.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out with just a crumb or two clinging to it. Place dish on cooling rack.
- Once cooled, brownies can be cut into neat and even pieces by this method: Place the dish in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably two to firm up. Remove from fridge, cover dish with cutting board, turn over, remove pan and peel off foil. Cover with another cutting board or very carefully turn over entire brownie so it is right side up (if it hasn’t firmed up enough in the fridge, the likelihood of it breaking into two is high –best to cover with another board!).
- With a serrated knife, cut brownie into quarters, trim the edges (chewy and candy-like, these are very popular treats at my house). Cut each quarter into serving pieces, sized as desired.
2. To freeze: Once you have removed whole brownie from pan as directed above, wrap uncut piece completely in foil, place in a freezer bag, close tightly and freeze until ready to cut into serving pieces.