Back to the desserts with a vengeance! Every January I say I’m not baking until February and every year my pants are on fire because it turns out to be a lie.
Let’s be honest. I didn’t last a week into January before I made pandesal. I also made another brownie recipe earlier in the month but I’m leapfrogging this one because this was for National Buttercrunch Day which was on Jan. 20. Yes, people, here in the US, we have a day set aside to honor toffee covered in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. Because that’s what buttercrunch is and how it distinguishes itself from plain old toffee. Not that there’s anything wrong with plain old toffee but why eat it plain when you can cover it in chocolate and roll it in almonds? Probably the most famous buttercrunch is Almond Roca. I myself prefer the See’s Candy version called Toffee-ettes.
For the brownie base, I used my new baking book, "Extreme Brownies" by Connie Weis. I’d been doing well for a while in not buying new baking books (really, I have!) but c’mon, this was not only about brownies but extreme brownies. Am I supposed to resist that? Based on reading the recipe, I figured this would be a really dark chocolate so I made a couple of adjustments. I didn’t use my super-duper Pernigotti cocoa for all of the cocoa called for in the recipe as that would’ve made it too dark of a chocolate brownie. Instead I cut some bland, grocery-store Hershey’s into the Pernigotti so I used about 2/3 Pernigotti and 1/3 Hershey’s to get the right level of chocolatey goodness.
The original recipe called for keeping this plain but since this was meant to be a buttercrunch brownie for National Buttercrunch Day, I made up a chocolate frosting to spread on top and have something for the buttercrunch to stick to. Some buttercrunch brownie recipes I had looked up on Pinterest has you sprinkling the buttercrunch pieces on top of the brownie batter and letting them bake but I’m leery of baking toffee or buttercrunch as I’m too afraid of it melting then hardening (too much) when it cooled after baking. This was the safer way to introduce the buttercrunch component into the brownie without altering its original texture.
And I'm not going to lie – I was smugly self-congratulatory when my modifications paid off. The brownie itself is excellent, all fudgy goodness. The thin layer of chocolate frosting was a good foil against the dark chocolate of the brownie and the buttercrunch provided amazing crunchy contrasting goodness. Don't chop the buttercrunch too finely as the outer chocolate coating will naturally crumble on its own so do a rough chop into chunks and sprinkle generously on top. These also freeze well so feel free to wrap tightly and store in your freezer in case you need an emergency stash of brownies on hand.
From Extreme Brownies by Connie Weis
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups (12 ounces) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
6 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups (1 pound, 5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
1 cup and 2 tablespoons (4.2 ounces) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Cut the butter into 1-inch slices and in the top half of a double boiler set over simmering water, melt butter and chocolate chips together, whisking until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Using a large whisk, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Whisk sugar and salt into egg mixture just until combined. Briefly whisk in the melted chocolate and butter mixture then vanilla. Whisk just until combined.
4. Soft together flour and cocoa powder; stir into batter until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a small offset spatula.
5. Bake for 34 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, not raw batter. Let cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes then either refrigerate pan for 7 to 8 hours or overnight or let cool completely to room temperature.
(Optional or your favorite recipe)
7 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Milk to achieve desired consistency (1-2 tablespoons)
1/2 - 3/4 cup Almond Roca, See's Toffee-ettes or other buttercrunch candy, chopped into chunks
1. Beat butter until soft and creamy. Whisk together cocoa powder and powdered sugar and beat into butter. Add vanilla extract and salt. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
2. When brownie is completely cool, spread frosting in an even layer on top and sprinkle with chopped buttercrunch.
Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Buttercrunch Melt-a-ways