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Sticky Toffee Pecan Brownies

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I meant to post this recipe last week. I mean, I made the brownies last week. Before becoming a mom I would have had each component to the recipe finished in the same day, but in this case I had the brownies made one day, then toasted the pecans the next and made the toffee sauce the day after that. Luckily, they were finished and approved by my quality control officer (aka, my husband) just before we were due to leave for Tipperary, where we spent the weekend.

Why was I making dessert to bring to Tipp? Well, my friend-slash-sister-in-law and I were planning to introduce our Kennedy in-laws to Canadian Thanksgiving (we celebrate Thanksgiving in October) and were treating everyone to a turkey dinner on Sunday. It was fun. Dinner was delicious. Everything went amazingly well. Except:

In the rush to pack the car and make sure we had everything the baby might need over the weekend, the brownies were left on my kitchen counter and promptly forgotten about until we arrived in Tipp. There went my dessert. Luckily, sister-in-law Monica made a really yummy pumpkin cheesecake (much more appropriate for Thanksgiving, really) and Patrick was secretly happy that the brownies would be waiting for him when he got back home.

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When it comes to baking brownies, timing is everything. Keep them in the oven for five minutes too long and you’re left with a dense chocolate cake. If they don’t bake long enough, you have a gloopy mess. You really want a rich, fudgey flavour in a brownie and I always like mine to be quite soft (but not gooey) in the center. The key is, when you’re checking for doneness while baking, you should have a tiny bit of goop left on the toothpick. It took 30 minutes to get to this stage for me, but every oven is different so some due diligence is required here.

The key to a great sticky toffee sauce is to be brave and let the caramel cook to a deep golden brown. A few seconds longer on the heat and it will be a burnt mess, so again – be diligent!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

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Sticky Toffee Pecan Brownies

Ingredients:

For the brownies:

1/2 cup butter, cubed

200 g 70% (at least) dark chocolate

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups white sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

200 g whole or chopped pecans, toasted in a hot oven for five minutes

For the sticky toffee sauce:

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a 9 x 13 inch baking tray with parchment and set aside.
  • Put a pot of water on to simmer. In a glass or ceramic bowl, melt the chocolate and butter slowly over the simmering water.
  • While the butter/chocolate is melting, sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl or in your stand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment until well combined.
  • When the chocolate and butter have melted, add the vanilla and sea salt.
  • Pour a small amount of the hot chocolate mixture into the eggs and stir immediately to temper. Then, pour the remainder of the chocolate mixture into the sugar and eggs. Stir to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir gently until just combined.
  • Pour the brownie batter into the parchment lined tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with a tiny bit of batter.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before removing the brownies, parchment and all, from the pan. Cool again for at least 30 minutes.
  • Make the toffee sauce: in a saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Do not stir. Bring contents to a boil over med-high heat, picking up the saucepan and giving it a swirl every so often. Again, do not stir! When the sugar/water mixture is a medium golden brown colour, take it off the heat and swirl the contents. Put it back on the heat. Continue this process until the caramel is a dark golden brown.
  • Remove from heat and immediately add the cream all at once. The mixture will rise and bubble – let it do it’s thing. Return it to the heat and, stirring constantly, cook the mixture until thickened – about 5 minutes.
  • When the sauce is thickened (coats the back of a spoon) remove from heat and beat in the cubed butter, then add the salt and vanilla.
  • Put the toffee sauce in a container and allow to cool in the fridge for at least two hours. Pour the cooled sauce over the brownies and top with toasted pecans. Allow to set in the fridge for an additional two hours or overnight before portioning.

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