Brownies are a dessert-lover’s best friend. They come in so many forms and are so deliciously versatile, that its hard not to love them. Plus, they are easier to bake than anything else, even cookies! Brownies can be kept really plain and simple for a picnic or a potluck, but if you want something fancy this holiday season, try these Caramel Pecan Brownies, courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine. Unlike the family-style Bread Pudding, these make perfect individual treats. With a chewy chocolate core and crunchy pecans, it is drenched with a caramel sauce and garnished with more chocolate – a quality that puts them right at the top of your baking list. You’ll love making these brownies, and it will put an elegant touch to your dinner table.
Caramel Pecan Brownies
6 oz (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
For The topping
1 recipe Basic Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. table salt
For the garnish
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Make the brownies
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium heavy-duty saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Gradually whisk in the sugar and then whisk vigorously until well blended. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk in the flour and cocoa powder until blended. Stir in the pecans and then scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into an even layer with a spatula.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and, if necessary, gently press down any puffed areas with a spatula to make the top level. Let cool about 5 minutes.
Make the topping
While the brownies are baking, make the Basic Caramel according to the directions. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream—the mixture will bubble up furiously. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the butter and gently whisk until completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour the caramel topping over the brownies, using a spatula to spread it evenly over the entire top. Let the brownies cool on the rack for 45 minutes and then refrigerate until the caramel topping is set, at least 1 hour.
Garnish the brownies
Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small piping bag fitted with a 1/8-inch plain tip. (Or put it in a small zip-top bag and seal the bag. Using scissors, snip off a corner of the bag to make a small hole.) Drizzle the chocolate over the brownies in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Cut the brownies into 36 rectangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature.