Pecan Praline Brownies
Toasting glossy pecans in the oven before combining them with caramel and blitzing them into a praline brings out the distinctive buttery flavour of the nuts and works brilliantly with deviously dark, gooey brownies. You can use any nut you like, but I think pecans are particularly indulgent and have a sweet richness that other nuts struggle to match.
Makes about 15 brownies
Prep time 25 minutes plus cooling
Cooking time 25-30 minutes
For the brownies
150g soft light brown sugar
225g caster sugar
200g butter, plus extra for greasing
150g dark chocolate, chopped
100g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
For the praline
100g caster sugar
20x35cm brownie tin
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4, grease the brownie tin and line it with baking parchment and line a baking tray with baking parchment too.
Put the sugars and the butter in a large saucepan, place over a medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. It should lose its grainy appearance, and the butter will have completely combined with the sugar instead of being a separated layer (this takes a few minutes). Remove from the heat.
Add the chopped dark chocolate to the warm sugar and butter mixture and stir it in until it has completely melted. Leave to cool to room temperature.
While the mixture cools, make the praline. Spread the pecans on the lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes until they are golden brown. Tip the sugar into a small heavy-based saucepan or frying pan and place over a medium heat. Leave the sugar to melt without stirring. After a few minutes, the edges will have started to liquefy. Swirl the pan to distribute the caramelised sugar, which will encourage the remaining dry sugar to melt. When the caramel is a dark amber colour (or 150°C on a sugar thermometer, if you have one), remove from the heat and pour the hot caramel over the roasted pecans and allow to cool completely.
When the brownie mixture is cool enough to touch comfortably, beat in the eggs. Add the flour and cocoa powder then stir briefly to combine. You don’t want to over-beat the mixture or your brownies will become too “cakey”. Scrape the mixture into the lined brownie tin and spread it out evenly.
Remove the praline from the baking tray and blitz it in a food processor or bash it with a rolling pin until it resembles a chunky powder. Sprinkle the praline in an even layer over the brownie batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is caramelised and golden. It will feel slightly under-baked, but this is what makes the brownie fudgy and chewy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin, either at room temperature or in the fridge, then cut into squares.
Extracted from Crave by Martha Collison (HarperCollins, approx €19.50).