Toffee fudge brownies

Toffee bits bring crunch to the topping of this fudge brownies, without interfering with the brownie's dense texture.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
These fudge brownies are topped with a creamy Nutella spread and sprinkled with toffee bits.

I'm on another brownie break instead of cookies. I had several bags of Heath toffee bits to use up so I went on the hunt for recipes that included them. Toffee’s actually a bit tricky to work with. I don’t generally like them in cookies or brownies since I’m somewhat of a purist and don’t like the toffee bits to interfere with the texture inside of a brownie or cookie unless they add to, not detract from, it.

What do I mean by that?

It depends on how it’s used. When you add toffee to cookie dough, in baking, the high heat can cause the toffee to melt then harden when it cools but the hardening isn’t a crunch like the unbaked toffee but can be the chewy, hard-to-eat harden. Some people like that texture but I’m not one of them.  

So, yeah, I’m choosy about how I use toffee in baking.

In this particular case, I ignored the original recipe’s instructions to add toffee to the brownie batter and instead reserved the toffee bits for sprinkling on top of the frosted brownie. Similar to how I don’t like nuts in my brownies, I don’t normally care for toffee bits inside them either. I like the moist, dense, chewy texture of a brownie by itself, not to be interrupted by random toffee bits in them. I often don’t like chocolate chips in my brownies for the same reason. At room temp, the solid chocolate chips interfere with my chewing of a dense, rich brownie.

But the weird part is I like the toffee bits on top of the brownie to provide a texture contrast and a sweet crunch. I know, I can’t explain myself either. It just is and I just am. I’ve had friends try to tell me “it all ends up in the same place.” I try to explain back “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” That’s normally the point where we shake our heads at each other and keep on eating.

I also ignored the original recipe’s instructions about making a chocolate frosting and instead went with the lazy baker’s frosting, meaning I spread Nutella over the top of the frosting, sprinkled the toffee bits liberally over it and called it good. After all that drama, I ended up eating only half a piece of this brownie. It was good and I liked it, especially with the toffee bits on top of the Nutella but I think I’d already eaten enough on the day I made these so it was easy to exercise portion control and bring the rest to work to give out.

Toffee fudge brownies
From Back for Seconds

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag Heath baking bits or 1-1/2 cups toffee bits

12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup milk
(Alternatively, you can use Nutella for the topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9- x 13-inch pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a mixing bowl, stir melted butter and cocoa until combined. Add sugar and mix well. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and salt, stir until combined. Mix in flour until well combined. Stir in 1 cup toffee bits, if desired (I left them out).

3. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Let cool.

4. Prepare topping: Melt chocolate and milk in the top half of a double boiler over low heat, whisking until melted and smooth. Pour over baked, cooled brownies and sprinkle generously with remaining toffee bits.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Butter Toffee Crunch Shortbread

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