Brownies, Made Better!
My friend Nicolette shares my love for cooking and baking, and tracking down irresistible recipes which she kindly shared with me. This one comes from a whole entire book of brownie brilliance, entitled The Brownie Experience: A Cookbook for Brownie Lovers, by Lisa Tanner.
Nicolette adds a little espresso powder to make these mocha rather than merely chocolate, and I loved the little edge that gives to a sublimely sweet, rich confection.
Hand-Made Baked Goods For the Win!
I used a whisk, since amounts were small, but a hand held mixer would work too. If you’re a brownie maker, you know the supremely thick batter will need help in spreading to cover the baking pan.
A note that walnuts would work in place of pecans if you prefer them, though you would be stepping away from the truly “Turtle” designation these earn made as directed.
Take It Step By Step…
There’s some in-and-out-of-the-oven in this recipe, which means I really need to set a timer and follow its urgings. The reason is that you make two layers of lusciousness which need to be spread over the brownie pan at incremental stages.
First is a simple brown sugar-butter syrup, which covers the pecans, and the second is a chocolate icing made from chocolate chips melted with half and half or evaporated milk. Do those shortly before you need them, as neither one holds well.
Half-Baked Can Be a Good Thing!
Above is the half-baked brownies, and you’ll see where a portion of the parchment paper with which I lined my 8-inch baking pan fell onto the batter and left a mark; caramel and chocolate icing took care of that real quick.
Below is the caramel sauce and you’ll see there’s not a ton of it. Be ready to spread it out quickly as soon as you get it onto the brownies; don’t fret about evenness, not one bit. This isn’t about Perfect — but trust me: Your results will be FABULOUS!
Below you see how the caramel syrup cooks into the brownie layer wonderful.
Here’s my pan of brownies, pecan scatter, caramel syrup-covered, and chocolate ice : TA-DAH!!!! There’s the turtle part in place, with sensational results.
Time to Chill Out…Just a Bit…
Best to let these cool to room temperature, and to refrigerate them for an hour if you have time, just, so they set really well. Once done and cut, they keep well for 2 or 3 days, and need not be refrigerated.
If you’re looking for a simpler baked blessing with excellent delicious results, check out my Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake and Cupcakes (trust me, friends, this is a classic and a winner!), or why not try my justifiably beloved and can-do Easy Chocolate Chess Pie?
Pecans are the true Turtle-component, but walnuts would be mighty tasty here.
Small is Beautiful!
Don’t expect fluffy icing as you would see on a cake — just a shiny, super-chocolate layer of richness to crown the turtle layer. Inspired and so very good. (If all this talk about turtle candy has you thinking about candy-making instead of baking, here’s a great recipe for the chocolate/caramel/pecan candies known as Turtles, from Southern Living Magazine.)
Cut these fairly small, as they deliver rich goodness and give you something wonderful to share widely.
While your oven heats up to 350F/180C to make my irresistible Turtle Mocha Brownies, take a break and watch this short and sweet video on how to make turtle candies at home!
Turtle Mocha Brownies
This treat is adapted from the chocolate caramel turtle brownie recipe in The Brownie Experience: A Cookbook for Brownie Lovers, by Lisa Tanner, published by Ten Speed Press in 2003. It makes a luscious 8-inch pan of extraordinarily rich and wonderful brownies, which is enough to enjoy and still share widely. These freeze wonderfully and travel well, so If you are looking for a make-ahead treat or something to send in the mail, here's your solution to those challenges.
- For the Brownies:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanila
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- For the Caramel:
- 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk or 1/2 and 1/2
- For the Chocolate Icing:
- 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk or half-and-half
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8-inch baking pan with butter or vegetable oil.
- In a small pot, melt butter and chocolate over medium heat, stirring to encourage them to melt evenly and quickly. then stir in espresso powder if using and beat it in well.
- In a medium bowl, beat two eggs with a whisk or an electric mixer until very thick and lightened to a rich, golden hue.
- Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and continue beating until very thick, velvety, and increased in volume.
- Add melted chocolate-butter mixture and stir well.
- Add flour and stir, scrape, and mix well.
- Scrape thick, rich batter into prepared pan, spreading to every corner in as even a layer as possible.
- Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 15 minutes.
- While brownies bake, about 5 minutes before this 15 minutes is up, make a caramel syrup, combining the 5 tablespoons brown sugar with t the 1/3 cup brown sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Whisk constantly until melted and combined and let it come to a boil; then cook 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Remove brownies from oven (they will not be done yet) and scatter pecans evenly over the top, then cover them with caramel syrup, spreading gently, very gently, to cover pecans mostly.
- Return to oven and continue baking at 350 for 15 minutes more.
- White brownies finish baking, about 5 minutes before they are done, make chocolate icing.
- Combine chocolate chips and evaporated milk or half and half in a medium saucepan over medium heat, or in a microwave oven. Cook until chocolate melts, and stir or whisk well to mix them evenly into a smooth icing.
- Remove brownies when time is up and immediately spread chocolate icing all over the top, spreading it to the edges and covering pecan caramel layer as evenly and completely as you can. Don't worry if it's not perfect, just do what you can, they will be fabulous!
- Cool to room temperature.
- Cut into small or large squares and enjoy!
Woo-ie, Nancie! These sound fantastic! Thanks for the detailed step by step and what-to-expects so we never stray from our goal of turtle mocha brownie perfection! <3
(blushing and beaming) thank you for your kind words about those brownies, Jenni! Honored you stopped by and I am always feasting on your recipes and brilliant instructions on how to rock the pastries, cakes, pies, and everything food, the PCO way! You make it all so much irresistible fun!
Betty Ann Quirino
Oh my goodness! I saw these photos and felt faint. These look amazing. I must try baking them. Thanks for sharing, Nancie!
Be strong, now, Betty Ann! A super-pro baker like yourself could stir these beauties together in her sleep. Wish I could hand deliver a batch to your kitchen door! Happy baking…