Friday, September 21, 2012
Pecan Turtle Black Cocoa Brownies
Random thoughts as I attempt to cobble together a blog post at 12:39 AM:
1. I considered titling this recipe Special Brownies, but realized that would have a different implication than what I intended. These are special brownies because they contain awesome and pricey ingredients (not ganja), and should be served only to special people that you really, really like. Pecans, vanilla beans, and black cocoa all make an appearance in these brownies. They are spendy but worthwhile splurges!
2. I actually Googled "slang for marijuana" to make my previous point. I've never smoked the giggly weed/wacky tobaccy/chronic in my life, and clearly do not have the vernacular down. Do people actually call it any of those things? Wait, don't answer that and incriminate yourselves. Drugs are scary guys. Let's stick to wine.
3. I'm headed up to New Jersey tonight to visit with my Mom and seester, and fully intend to force-feed them the whole pan of these. Although, they're super-duper good, so I'm hoping that force won't be necessary. Perhaps I can convince them that these are healthy, since they contain lots of nuts and dark chocolate. Antioxidants!
4. Friends is on Nick & Nite in the background, which makes me feel exceedingly old. When I was a kid, Nick & Nite was all about I Love Lucy and Bewitched. Having 90s shows on there just seems wrong. Also, it's "The One With the Morning After," and I'm still mad at Ross. "We were on a break!" is not a valid excuse dude.
5. I usually hate dressing up for Halloween, but recently decided that I want to go as Honey Boo Boo Child. One problem - I simply don't have the legs to pull off a short pink pageant dress. Someone out there, please take this idea, and report back on November 1st, so that I can live vicariously through you. You'll need a short pink dress, a pig named Glitzy, and a bottle of Go-Go Juice. In the words of Mama, you'll look beautimous. Please don't judge me for watching this amazingly hilarious train wreck of a reality show. For those of you who somehow don't know who Honey Boo Boo is, I feel like this best sums her up:
This recipe makes 15 super dark, super rich brownies. If you're unfamiliar with black cocoa, it's Dutch-processed cocoa that has been super alkalized. You know how Oreo cookies are almost black? That's how this cocoa powder looks. It actually kind of smells like crushed up Oreos. Since black cocoa has less fat than traditional cocoa powder, it's typically paired with natural or Dutched cocoa to ensure that baked goods don't dry out. A little goes a long way with this stuff! I know it seems like there is an insane amount of sugar in the recipe below, but do not reduce the sugar unless you want a dried out brownie. The dark chocolate balances out the large quantity of sugar well, and while these are rich, they are not tooth-achingly sweet.
Here's what you'll need:
For the brownies:
1 cup salted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup black cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
For the pecan topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, contents scraped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9x13 metal baking pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla extract with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powders, and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Let the brownies cool, then make the caramel.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine heavy cream, vanilla bean scrapings, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, water, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to boil, swirling the pan occasionally but NOT stirring, until the mixture turns a deep amber color - anywhere from 7-15 minutes. Caramel goes from perfect to burnt in a split second, so don't walk away!
When the caramel has reached the correct color, remove it from the heat, and immediately pour in the heavy cream and vanilla mixture. Be careful, as it will bubble up quite a bit. Stir until thoroughly combined, and add in the pecans. Immediately pour over the brownies, and spread evenly to cover. Let cool completely before cutting.
Brownies adapted from these, and caramel topping adapted from Chow