15 July 2012

Praline Topped Brownies

Some of your favorite foods happened by accident: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, popsicles, potato chips.  I just might believe the most common story about brownies.  The story goes that a housewife in Maine forgot to add baking powder to her chocolate cake, so it didn't rise properly.  She served the cake anyway and it was delicious.  What's not to love about an even more intensely chocolatey cake?  Brownies were born.  

I have had writer's block over this post.  I don't have any clever stories about brownies.  I just like brownies, so I wanted to do a post about 'em.  Although I love baking and I almost exclusively bake sweets, I don't have much of a sweet tooth.  If you give me something that's both salty and sweet, though, I'm all yours.  The praline topping on these brownies fills that bill.  It's not absolutely salty, but it does have enough that you get a little salty bite on your tongue every now and then.  These brownies are also a little more job security for me, too, since my boss is a nut for anything involving pralines.  He declared these brownies the best thing I have ever made.

The world is divided on what texture a brownie should have -- gooey or cakey.  I fall firmly in the gooey camp and so do these brownies.  For a perfectly gooey brownie, you want a toothpick or cake tester put in the center of the brownies to come out caked with a mixture that is half crumbs/half chocolate goo.  The edges will also pull away from the edges of the pan once your brownies are cooked.

chopped pecans ready to go into the topping

Praline Topped Brownies
makes about 24 brownies

Print me, Please!!!

For the brownie layer:

8 Tbsp butter
6 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant espresso powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour

the crackly praline topping

for the praline layer:

8 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp bourbon
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°.

To make the brownie layer:  Place the butter and chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.  Microwave on high (100% power) in 30 second increments until chocolate is melted.  Stir between 30 second increments to ensure chocolate does not burn.  Once chocolate and butter are melted and combined, stir in sugar, vanilla, salt, and espresso powder until well combined.  Add eggs; stir well.  Stir in the flour and beat vigorously with a spoon until mixture is glossy and well combined.

Pour batter into a 9x13" pan that has been lined with aluminum foil; set aside.

To make praline layer: Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and salt.  Add the egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, and bourbon; stir until well combined.  Stir in the pecans, flour, and baking soda.  Drop the praline layer directly on top of the brownie batter by spoonfuls.  You do not have to be precise; the praline layer with spread out while it is in the oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the topping is browned and cracked.  Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Cut into squares once completely cool.

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