comscore Recipe: Salted pretzel brownies make maximum impact | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Crave

Recipe: Salted pretzel brownies make maximum impact

  • NEW YORK TIMES
                                From top to bottom, pecan pie brownies, salted pretzel brownies and coconut macaroon brownies. Stuffed or topped with the likes of sugared coconut, pecan pie filling or salted pretzels, these brownies are not about subtlety.

    NEW YORK TIMES

    From top to bottom, pecan pie brownies, salted pretzel brownies and coconut macaroon brownies. Stuffed or topped with the likes of sugared coconut, pecan pie filling or salted pretzels, these brownies are not about subtlety.

In the vast and varied world of brownie recipes, there are the minimalist versions: pure expressions without nuts, chips or icing. Then, there are the maximalist takes, stuffed to their fudgy edges with all manner of sugary excess.

My grown-up instincts appreciate the nuances of the more understated iterations. But the rest of my pandemic- weary soul cries out for indulgence: Make mine as gooey, chewy and opulently embellished as they can be.

I developed these brownie versions using the same base recipe but with additions that satisfy in distinct ways: salted, nutty and candy-bar inspired.

The salted pretzel brownies are the most restrained, built on the technique of sprinkling a little flaky salt at the end to make brownies’ bittersweet nature pop. Here, salty pretzels work in a similar way, adding crunch and a toasty character alongside a saline zing. Try to find small pretzels, which look particularly adorable all lined up like twisted hearts across the brownie surface.

I’ve also tucked a crust of graham crackers and crushed pretzels beneath the brownie batter, giving the bars cookie­like appeal, run through with salted caramel notes.

The inspiration for the next brownie variation began with the coconut heart of a Mounds bar. I added just enough syrupy sweetened condensed milk to bind the coconut flakes, then plopped scoops of them in “mounds” on top of the batter. Part cookie, part candy, and over the top in the very best way.

And finally, I crossed brownies with pecan pie. The brownie part is at the base, a dense, fudgy replacement for the usual flaky crust. Then, the pecans and all their glorious, honeyed goo rest on top, baking up into a shiny, crunchy blanket that looks a lot more subtle than it tastes.

Subtlety, after all, is not the point of any of these confections, which are as exuberantly joyful as brownies can be, just when we need them the most.

SALTED PRETZEL BROWNIES

  • >> Crust:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more to grease pan
  • 1 cup (120 grams) graham cracker crumbs (from about 7 graham cracker sheets)
  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) finely crushed pretzels
  • 1 egg white
  • >> Topping:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken up
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (60 grams) chocolate chips (optional)
  • Small whole pretzels, for topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square metal baking pan and line with parchment, leaving about 2 inches of excess on each side to help lift cooked brownies from pan.

>> To make crust: In a food processor, combine butter, graham cracker crumbs, crushed pretzels and egg white. Process until well blended. Transfer to prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake until deeply browned at the edges, 14 to 17 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

>> To make topping: Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees. Put butter and chocolate into a medium pot and place it over low heat. Melt mixture, taking care not to let chocolate burn and stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until smooth.

Scrape mixture into a large bowl and mix in sugar. Let cool until just warm to the touch, about 5 minutes.

Whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk in flour, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Mix in chocolate chips, if using. Scrape batter into an even layer on top of crust.

Top with pretzels and bake until top is set and firm to touch, especially in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 16 brownies.

COCONUT MACAROON BROWNIES

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to grease pan
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken up
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams) chocolate chips (optional)
  • >> Coconut Mounds:
  • 2 cups (170 grams) sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square metal baking pan and line with parchment, leaving about 2 inches of excess on each side to help lift cooked brownies out of pan.

Put butter and chocolate into a medium pot and place over low heat. Melt mixture, taking care not to let chocolate burn and stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Scrape chocolate mixture into a large bowl and mix in sugar. Let mixture cool until just warm to the touch, about 5 minutes.

Whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk in flour, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Mix in chocolate chips, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Set aside.

Make coconut mounds: In a medium bowl, combine shredded coconut, condensed milk, egg white, vanilla and fine sea salt. Using a rubber spatula, mix until well combined. Using a small ice cream scoop, or a tablespoon, drop 16 evenly spaced mounds of coconut mixture onto the brownie batter, in 4 by 4 rows.

Sprinkle top with flaky sea salt. Bake until coconut mounds are golden and brownies are firm to touch, especially in center, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack; cut into squares. Makes 16 brownies.

PECAN PIE BROWNIES

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to grease pan
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken up
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams) chocolate chips (optional)
  • >> Pecan Layer:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (200 grams) toasted pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square metal baking pan and line with parchment, leaving about 2 inches of excess on each side to help lift cooked brownies out of pan.

Put butter and chocolate into a medium pot and place over low heat. Melt mixture, taking care not to let chocolate burn and stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Scrape chocolate mixture into a large bowl and mix in sugar. Let mixture cool until it’s just warm to the touch, about 5 minutes.

Whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk in flour, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Mix in chocolate chips, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Set aside.

>> To make pecan layer: In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, honey, brown sugar, heavy cream and fine sea salt. Fold in pecans until well coated.

Pour pecan mixture in an even layer on top of the brownie batter. Sprinkle top lightly with flaky sea salt. Bake until top is set and firm to touch, especially in the center, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack; cut into squares. Makes 16 brownies.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up