I got home from Minnesota this weekend, late Saturday evening. I had such a fantastic time with my family that I wasn’t even homesick. Although, I was sick for the hubster…and our boy…and our furry baby, Loki…
I guess I was homesick after all.
Honestly though, I was the most homesick for the hubster. I count myself pretty dang lucky that even after nine years of marriage, we would still rather hang out together than do anything else. I decided to spoil him when I got home by making him one of his favorite desserts…with a twist.
The hubster loves German chocolate cake…he always has. Since I missed spending Father’s Day with him, I thought he was extra deserving. Sunday, I whipped up a German chocolate dessert for him as a belated gift, but I wanted something a little new and different, so I made brownies instead of cake.
I wanted these brownies to be a step above regular brownies. I added a pecan crust recipe that I thought would perfectly compliment the flavors of the coconut pecan topping that is on German chocolate desserts. It was a wonderful addition! It added a crunchy, nutty quality that was an excellent accompaniment to the soft, fudgy brownies.
The crust is very similar to a graham cracker crust, but with pecans instead. All you need is chopped pecans, brown sugar, unsalted butter (melted), and vanilla extract. Besides tasting amazing, this recipe is also great because it’s naturally gluten free, so it can be used in tons of recipes in place of a traditional pie crust.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the chopped pecans five or six times to break them up further. Add the sugar and pulse until combined, then pour in the butter and vanilla. Continue pulsing until combined.
Pour the batter over the crust when you remove it from the oven and immediately return the pan back to the oven. Bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.
While the brownies are baking, mix the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Beat in the butter, then slowly beat in the cream and vanilla until combined. Pour into a medium saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is puffy and begins to thicken (180 degrees), about 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
I wasn’t exactly sure that these would be good or not, but the hubster loved them. I mean, really loved them! Even our boy, who isn’t much of a German chocolate fan (because of the coconut and pecans), thoroughly enjoyed these.
I’m not a coconut fan even a little bit, so I was sure I wouldn’t like these at all, but they were actually so delicious, I couldn’t resist them! Alright…I scraped the coconut off…but they were still incredible. My favorite part, even more than the chocolate brownie (which is usually always my favorite part), was the pecan crust. It was so delicious…firm and slightly crunchy, with a buttery sweet taste that was just the right amount of pecan flavor. It could almost be mistaken for a graham cracker crust, but, in my opinion, it’s better. It’s a little firmer, so it holds together better than most graham cracker crusts, and it’s full of much more flavor.
The hubster called these “extraordinary,” and told me that they’re the best thing I’ve made in a while. He went on to say that they are an absolute must for my future bakery’s menu. His praise is the best way I can describe to you how delicious they are.
These can be made in advance and keep for several days, in an airtight container (these are still just as good today, three days after making them, as they were the first day). The topping can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for three to four days before use.
If you don’t have an excuse to make these, a birthday maybe, or an anniversary party, then make one up. Perhaps a “Yay, it’s Tuesday Party…”? Enjoy!
German Chocolate Brownie Bars
with Brown Sugar Pecan Crust
and Coconut Pecan Topping
Makes 1 9×13-inch pan of brownies
FOR THE CRUST (Vegan/dairy free, gluten free)
16 ounces pecans
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted (substitute margarine for vegan/dairy free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE BROWNIES
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE TOPPING
3 egg yolks
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped pecans
2 cups packed sweetened coconut
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Place the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until broken up into tiny pieces. Add the sugar and pulse until combined, then pour in the butter and vanilla. Continue pulsing until combined.
Press the pecan mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges are golden and the crust feels firm.
While the crust is baking, make the brownies: In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in the sugar until combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Whisk in the dry ingredients until combined and pour the batter into the prepared pan, on top of the pecan crust.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow brownies to cool completely before topping.
To make the topping: While the brownies are baking, mix the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Beat in the butter, then slowly beat in the cream and vanilla until combined. Pour into a medium saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is puffy and begins to thicken (180 degrees), about 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the pecans and coconut. Spread all of the mixture over the top of the brownies.
Crust and brownie recipes by Darla, topping adapted from Baking Illustrated