If there is one time of the year to try out a decadent chocolate recipe, it’s right now.
I know my kids were hoping for something special, and Valentine’s Day is when you need to deliver big.
I also know lots of girlfriends whose husbands will probably forgo the box of fancy chocolates, so this recipe will sate their need for flat-out chocolate luxury, too. Girlfriends understand that romance can go out the window after you’ve been with someone for a while– but chocolate is forever.
Valentine’s Day is going to be a big drop-off day– simple notes and baked goods.
I’ve had a certain recipe ear-marked for a while — and just yesterday I decided to give it a whirl.
It’s from here.
I’ve had lots of successes from this book and figured that the recipe for something called Heart of Darkness Brownies sounded terrific. I’ve found that some of my favorite brownie recipes start with unsweetened chocolate, tinker around with the right sugar balance and involve a good amount of egg (this version calls for six).
Only problem I could see from the get go was the name. Heat of Darkness Brownies?
Who wants their dessert to remind them of Joseph Conrad’s book or Marlon Brando as Kurtz as he descends into madness in Apocalypse Now?
That’s a might uncomfortable jacket for a confection to wear. Besides, if you’re going to prominently feature candy bars and caramel in a recipe, why not run with that?
So may I present to you my slightly modified version:
Snickers and Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Brownies.
I love a recipe that starts with candy; chances are the end result is going to be over-the-top delicious, especially if you really dig that particular kind of confection.
Peanuts. Caramel. Nougat. Chocolate.
Yes, I think that’ll work.
Time to hit the kitchen.
I haven’t had a Snickers bar since I nabbed a few minis from my kid’s Halloween stash and threw them in the freezer (and enjoyed them with lattes the next few mornings).
Snickers are good — but I’ve always found that this flavor combination would be even better enrobed in dark chocolate. (Hmm, maybe it’s time for me to make a homemade Snicker version).
In the meantime, I thought that these brownies were worthy of a try.
I gathered the butter, unsweetened chocolate, brown and white sugar, egg, and vanilla.
I sifted together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
I mixed them together — and then added some of the chopped Snickers and dark chocolate together
The pan went into a pre-heated oven to start their journey.
When the brownie cups were mostly done, I then added the leftover chunks of Snickers and a few more chocolate chips to the tops. This way the toppings would protrude handsomely from the cooked brownie cups and give all who sees them an idea what lies underneath.
I then cooked them for about five more minutes until the tops were glossy and the middle was set.
I let the brownies cool for a bit and then pulled together a quick vanilla-enhanced caramel sauce.
When it’s warm enough to drizzle like this, it’s done.
Don’t forget flecks of your best quality salt to bring out its buttery, vanilla-y goodness.
With a little bit of effort, I was able to extricate the gooey brownies from the pan (warning: lined with cupcake liners it would have been much easier and I think I’d go that route next time).
I pulled out some adorable aluminum madeleine cups from the Japanese store Daiso I’d been saving (I do a bi-annual trip to Seattle and stock up there each time). Their lacy sweetness and slight structure seemed just the right thing for such gooey heft.
I put all the brownies in their tins, and then drizzled the warm caramel on top.
Just to gild the lily, I added a number of these peanuts on top to up the crunch level, and remind people of its intrinsic Snicker-ness.
Lined up they looked so delicious.
Truth be told, Charlotte and I shared one just as soon as the caramel cooled.
It was inky dark, fudgy as hell, and tasted like the love child of a flourless chocolate cake and — you guessed it! –a melted Snickers bar.
With a bit more crunch.
All that was left to do this morning was wrap some up for deliveries and hit the road.
I’m planning on giving all but a few away; the ones we keep will be served tonight with vanilla gelato.
It’ll be a restaurant-worthy instant brownie sundae — with no crowds, steep price tags or over-taxed waitresses.
If romance is dormant in your house, may at least there be something shockingly decadent awaiting you too at the day’s end.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
- 1½ C. (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into squares or chunks
- 2¼ C. granulated sugar
- 1 C. firmly packed light brown sugar
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla salt
- 1½ C. all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbs. dark unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
- 1 -1½ C. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
- 5 full size (2 ounce) Snickers bars, cut into small chunks
- For the Caramel drizzle
- 1 6 - 8 oz. caramel sauce OR:
- 6 ounces (about 25) unwrapped caramel candies (I like Kraft's)
- 2 Tbs. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- pinch of fleur de sel or flake salt
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Spray two standard 12-cup muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.
- Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugars, eggs, and vanilla.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together. Add this into the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the ⅔ the chips and half the Snickers pieces into the batter.
- Fill each cupcake cup half way with batter. Bake about 15-18 minutes; pull them out when they are set and glossy around the sides with just the middle still looking a little wet.
- Add the rest of the Snickers pieces and chocolate chips to the tops of the brownie, setting gently on top.
- Bake another 3-5 minutes until the surface of the brownie has a glossy, crackled surface (Jill claims they are ready with 22 minutes total of cooking, I found it closer to 25).
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool just enough to handle, then remove from the cupcake cups, running a knife around the edge of each brownie to loosen it from the cup. Let cool completely on the wire rack.
- While the brownies are cooling, make the caramel drizzle. If not using prepared caramel sauces, combine the caramels, cream, vanilla and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If the caramels are not completely melted, continue heating in 30-second increments, stirring until smooth.
- Drizzle the brownies with the melted caramel and cool completely for the caramel to harden. Do not chill. Serve immediately or store for up to 3 days in a covered container.