Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Decadent Parting Gift - Heart of Darkness Brownies

Laurent had to go away on a research trip this morning. He is a biochemistry Ph.D. candidate (sounds impressive, doesn't it?), and every now and then he has to leave for a week to perform strange experiments south of the border.

Whenever he leaves, I like to bake him something to sustain him during the trip. I suppose the wise thing would be to make something healthy, because he pretty much lives on fast food during those periods. But I prefer to make him something which will keep his spirits up.

That means it has to be chocolate.

A few months ago, I discovered an amazing brownie recipe in Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth. Heart of Darkness Brownies (or, as I like to call them, "Heart Attack Brownies") are a succulent, decadent treat that is garanteed to give you energy and bring a smile to your face. In fact, the entire book is wonderful, and probably features the richest recipes on my entire bookshelf.

These brownies also a great way to get rid of any excess candy bars you have lying around. We used to have tons, left over from Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day. The original recipe calls for chopped Snickers to be stirred into the batter, but that's the one type of candy we didn't have. So far, I have made this recipe with Mars bars, Kit Kat Chunkies, and Kit Kat Darks, and each version has been quite tasty. Unexpectedly, I think I prefer the Kit Kat versions: the wafers retain a chewy texture that is really quite pleasant. And there is now a lot more room in my pantry!

The original recipe calls for the brownies to be topped with toasted marshmallows and caramel drizzle, but I've never been able to bring myself to go that last decadent mile. So this version is actually a lite version!

Jill O'Connor writes that she bakes the brownies in muffin tins to avoid having to cut them neatly (because there is so much stuff in there), but I'd be curious to try them in a regular pan: no matter how well I grease my muffin tins, I always have a hard time getting the cakelets out cleanly. They always tend to tear a little, which shows in the photograph. But at least they're garanteed not to be overcooked!

Heart of Darkness Brownies
Adapted from Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth

Makes 24 servings

300g (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter
180g (6 oz) dark chocolate
420g (2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
190g (1 cup) light brown sugar
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
210g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml (1 cup) very coarsely chopped pecans
250 ml (1 cup) dark chocolate chips
5-6 large candy bars, chopped into small pieces (Snickers, Mars, Kit Kat... feel free to experiment)

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease two 12-cup muffin tins (I prefer to use butter, for the taste - I know there's a higher risk of burning than with cooking spray, but these brownies won't spend enough time in the oven for that to happen).

Toast the pecans: put the chopped nuts on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant, about 8 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes to prevent burning. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a waterbath. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in both sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour and salt, and finally the nuts, chocolate chips, and candy bar pieces.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Bake until the surface of the brownies is glossy and crackled, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the brownies from the tins by running a knife around their edges, (be careful not to break them) and let cool completely on the wire rack. Store in air-tight containers.


  1. Ohh, biochem, at Concordia, McGill, or UofM? I'm finishing my undergrad in Molecular Bio at Concordia. Either way, I'm sure he had a great time, how could he not with brownies like that?

  2. Hi Coco Bean!

    He's at UofM, though I'm at Concordia myself. :-)

    I don't know if he has a good time on those trips, he always comes back pretty tired... Could be the sugar withdrawal, though!