Pecan Fudge Brownies
Tips: My mother taught me the basics of baking, and brownies
were one of the first things I learned how to make. We had a standard
brownie recipe that we used for many years, and it wasnt until
I grew older and began some serious experimenting that I decided
the old standard might be improved upon. Im still
not sure this is the perfect brownie recipe, but its awfully
good! Three sources of chocolate flavor and lessened amounts of
flour and sugar give you a very dense, fudgy, chocolatey, not-too-sweet
brownie; the chocolate chunks and pecans provide an extra hit
of chocolate and some crunch. If youd rather omit the nuts,
feel free to do so. They are included here in deference to my mother,
who has always liked nuts in her baked goods.
It is important to use unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder for
these. There are several brands available in the US, including Bensdorp,
Droste, and Hershey. As I can find Hershey in local markets, thats
what I use; their Dutch process cocoa comes in a silver tin with
chocolate-brown lettering. Do not omit the overnight standing period
called for in the recipe, as it helps develop the flavor of these
brownies; I think they are also easier to cut after they stand.
As the brownies are cut, I wrap each individually in plastic wrap
so they wont dry out. These will keep at room temperature
for a day or two if stored airtight, and they freeze beautifully.
- 1-1/2 cups (about 5-1/4 ounces) pecan halves or large pieces
- 10 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, divided
- 3 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
- 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. orange liqueur
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- Pinch salt
- 6 eggs, graded large, beaten to combine, preferably
at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Line a 13 by 9 pan (at least 1-1/2 inches deep) with heavy-duty
aluminum foil, shiny side up, so theres some overhang on all
edges; fold any overhang back against the outer edges of the pan.
Smooth out as many creases as possible inside the pan. Set aside.
If the pecans are in large pieces, use as is; if theyre in
halves, break up the halves into coarse chunks with your fingers.
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place
pecan pieces in single layer in shallow pan. Toast in preheated
oven for 9 to 12 minutes, or until very fragrant and a very light
golden color. Stir frequently and watch carefully; nuts can burn
easily. Remove to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before
using. (This can be done up to one day in advance).
While nuts cool (or, if you have toasted the nuts in advance, as
preparation), chop 8 ounces of the semisweet chocolate into small
chunks (no larger than about 1/4 inch on each side) and place chunks
into a medium bowl. Add the cooled, toasted pecans and mix well.
Set aside at room temperature.
Finely chop remaining 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate; place into
heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum 3 quart pot along with finely chopped
unsweetened chocolate. Add butter slices to pot with chopped chocolates.
Set pot over very low heat and stir almost constantly until almost
melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted and smooth.
Add cocoa powder; whisk in briskly until most lumps are dissolved.
Scrape pot sides and bottom with rubber spatula. Cool mixture 15
minutes; while it cools, adjust rack to center of oven and preheat
oven to 350 degrees F.
When chocolate mixture has cooled 15 minutes, add granulated sugar,
liqueur, vanilla, and salt. With large spoon, stir thoroughly to
mix well (mixture will have the texture of wet sand). Add beaten
eggs in 3 additions, carefully beating in each addition until combined
(when eggs have all been added, batter texture should be smooth).
Scrape pot bottom and sides with rubber spatula. Add flour; stir
in just until almost incorporated. Add chocolate chunks and pecans
and stir in until evenly distributed.
Turn into prepared pan. With back of large spoon, spread level;
make certain batter is pushed into corners of pan. Bake in preheated
oven 26 to 31 minutes, turning pan back-to-front once about halfway
through baking time. When done, a toothpick inserted near center
of brownies will emerge with a number of moist crumbs still clinging
to it (be sure you dont stick your toothpick into a chunk
of melted chocolate--if you have doubts, use a clean toothpick and
try again in a different area). Do not overbake!
Remove brownies to cooling rack. Cool completely before covering
airtight; allow to age at room temperature overnight before cutting
and serving. To cut, remove block of brownies (still in foil) from
pan; gently peel back foil from sides of brownies. Use a large,
sharp knife (try both a straight edge and a serrated edge to see
what works best for you). I like to trim about 1/4 inch off each
edge first. Youll have to rinse the knife blade under warm
water, then shake it off well (or dry it) frequently, as these brownies
tend to stick to the knife blade. Wrap each brownie individually
in plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Serve within a day or two,
or freeze for longer storage.
32 to 48 brownies
Note: I have made these brownies using up to 2 cups of pecan pieces.
Some people prefer this greater quantity.
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