Monday, May 05, 2008
One Bowl Espresso Nut Brownies
I've been working on a quick-to-fix brownie for quite some time, trying to come up with just the right taste, not too sweet or too heavy. The good folks over at "Coffee Bucks" make a drink concoction with lots of sugary caramel and mocha. What I wanted to do was capture that that same caramel mocha flavor, but without the diabetic coma or the increased waistline. The flavor comes from the addition of instant espresso and vanilla paste. Also, the brown sugar has a deeper sweet taste even though you use less. One brownie recipe called for TWO CUPS in only an 8x8 pan. YIKES.
While this little gem has less sugar than the usual brownie recipes, and it has a soft, cakey texture, not the heft of a dense and chewy brownie. Not that there's anything wrong with those brownies, they certainly have their place on the dessert tray. However, sometimes you just want the flavor, and this one fits just fine. More along the lines of a snack cake, 3 out of 4 college students give these a big thumbs up!
The other challenge was to find the right size pan and I think this little hand-me-down from Granny's glass bakeware collection might be the right fit. The standard 9x13-inch pan resulted in a brownie that was too flat, and the 8x8-inch pan made the batter overflow into a big chocolate mess. This little 12x8 green Pyrex pan saw plenty of pot luck action in its day, and it was just right. I know how Goldilocks must have felt on her third try!
These brownies are dark, rich, and full of flavor. Serve them with or without the cajeta or caramel sauce, and maybe a glass of milk. Measurements are given in volume and weights.
ONE-BOWL ESPRESSO NUT BROWNIES - Makes 16-24 squares,
depending on how you cut them
3.35 oz. or 1 cup cocoa
4 oz. or 1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
5.10 oz or 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 bar Hershey's milk chocolate with almonds, broken
1 oz. or 1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
Cajeta or Caramel sauce, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line pan with foil so that it extends about 2-inches over the side. Spray with pan coating or brush with melted butter. Melt the butter in a large enough microwaveable bowl and nuke for about 1 minute at 10 second intervals, taking care so butter does not burn. Remove from nuker and add cocoa & brown sugar, whisking until completely dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating in until batter becomes glossy. Add vanilla, espresso powder, salt, soda. Add flour and nuts, mix well. Pour into prepared pan, then add pieces of chocolate bar, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until springy to the touch. Let cool in pan, then remove using the foil to lift from pan. Cut into squares, garnish with caramel sauce, ice cream, or a simple dusting with powdered sugar.