Tuesday, June 28, 2011

German Chocolate Brownie Bars with Brown Sugar Pecan Crust

by Darla

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.

Press the mixture firmly into a 9×13-inch baking dish. I used a cake pan, but a regular glass baking dish will work just as well.

Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges are golden and the crust feels firm. While the crust is baking, prepare the brownie batter (recipe below).

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.

The topping for these brownies is a traditional German chocolate topping containing shredded coconut (sweetened), chopped pecans (toasted), sugar, egg yolks, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.

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.

Once cooled, stir in the pecans and coconut.

Spread all of the cooled topping over the brownies.

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

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
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Blog is the New Black June 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

Love that you made these into bars!!! Awesome!


2 bttrflybabydoll June 28, 2011 at 11:31 am

I love the pantry list on your blog! I think I have everything but the balsamic vinegar in my pantry at all times. And I buy flour by the 25 lb. bags…both ap and bread! LOL


3 Robin June 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

Genius! These look fabulous. I love German Choc. Cake. And coconut. And brownies. And pecans. Can’t wait to try them!


4 bttrflybabydoll June 28, 2011 at 11:24 am

I’m not normally a coconut fan, but I think my tastes buds must be changing. I’ve been coconut crazy lately. These look fabulous! Lucky hubby!


5 Canterbury Cakes June 28, 2011 at 11:48 am

I’m so pleased to have found your blog. Your photography is beautiful and your baking looks fabulous. Inspirational.


6 Kosher Corvid June 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like coconut! I recently made a German chocolate cake for a co-worker’s birthday, and everyone was appalled that I scraped the filling right off to get to the real point of the cake–chocolate! Love the idea of making this into brownies, though. Maybe with just the nuts for me ;)


7 Kathia June 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I love coconut and German chocolate cake. I can imagine how delicious these brownies are. This recipe is a keeper.


8 Patricia Scarpin June 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I would give just about anything to have one of these right now. ;)
They look amazing! That coconutty topping is killing me.


9 Lemons and anchovies June 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I love everything about these brownies–love, love German Chocolate cake…in brownie form, I’d be in heaven! I’m saving this recipe for the next family party. I’m certain it will be a hit. Thanks!


10 Elena (running in heels after child) June 29, 2011 at 12:58 am

Um. Yum. Do you deliver, I would like some right now.


11 Nicole @ itsfeedingtimeatthezoo June 29, 2011 at 4:48 am

These look so delicious I could cry. I think I’m in love.


12 jess white @athriftyfoodie June 29, 2011 at 5:18 am

wow. lovely photos and the brownies look amazing, i love all the different colours!


13 Jessica June 29, 2011 at 10:43 am

Such a great idea. I think I’ll give these a try this weekend!


14 C&C Cakery June 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Holy cannoli – these are quite the dessert bar! Saved the recipe just so I can pull it out when I’m in need of some decadence in my lift.


15 April July 8, 2011 at 5:31 am

Wow i just found your site, its so cool!! you do a lovely job of the food photography too.
This recipe looks beautiful and everyone around here is a fan of German Chocolate Cake so has to be a winer. Would be ok to repost this on my blog i am just starting?.. with credit where due of course and linked here… thanks so much.. April


16 Tara @ The Butter Dish August 10, 2011 at 8:53 am

Holy German Heaven Batman!! – I simply must must make these Darla! Mr. Sweet Butter would have to fight me for these babies!!

BTW – I love how your blog adds the latest post of people who comment. How did you do that?


17 Darla August 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

Hi Tara, so sorry for the slow reply, I was traveling this weekend and unable to get to my blog.

The thing that lets commenters add their latest posts is called CommentLuv. It’s a widget for Wordpress. It was super easy to install, edit, and activate, and I think it’s a lot of fun. Hope this is helpful. :)


18 jim August 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

Oh boy these look so good. My wife is pregnant and I will surprise her tomorrow with my baking :)


19 Darla August 30, 2011 at 12:07 am

Awww! :) Lucky lady!


20 Deb October 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Nice photography! I’m going to make these tomorrow. I have cute halloween bags that need to be filled and passed out to family. They look divine. Thank you!


21 mary November 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm

oh my goodnes! these are amazing ..so addicting! thank you so much !!!! Perfect with a small glass of milk!
what i changed was ..i used a 2 boxes (if i wanted a thick brownie layer)or 1 box (if i wanted thin) of brownie mix and replaced the water with cold coffee and added 1/2 – 1 cup sour cream!!! so good…i also tried putting them in a pie pan!


22 Jessica December 21, 2011 at 1:41 am

Found you from a picture of these brownies on Pinterest. I made them tonight for my dad’s birthday and I am so happy with how they turned out! They look beautiful and taste delicious! Awesome recipe!


23 Jenny February 11, 2012 at 1:49 am

Awesome recipe. Looks like it would be delicious :) Thanks so much for sharing.

Here is brownie recipe you might like also.



24 Sarah March 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Can i use dutch processed cocoa or does it need to be the regular type? will using dutch processed effect the results ( ie texture and taste )


25 Darla March 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

Hi Sarah, You can use Dutch processed cocoa. :)


26 Trader Joes Recipes March 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Oh, these looks divine! Great presentation as well.


27 Stacee April 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Hi! These look divine! I noticed you have ingredients listed for gluten free/dairy free however for the topping you have ‘heavy cream’ listed. Do you have a substitute/variation to make these completely dairy free? We are dying to try these in our house!! :)


28 nicole April 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

made these brownies to have a de-stress day…it was not only so fun to make..but they were so good, my family asked that i bake more (because i never do)…thank you!!!


29 Heather Urry December 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

These are delicious! To make them slightly less decadent, I halved the nut crust and coconut topping components and the end result is still super tasty. Used walnuts in the crust because that’s all I had and pecan nut butter (3 oz) instead of pecans in the topping. (While I love chunks of nuts, some in my family don’t so the use of nut butter doubled as a camouflage technique. Let’s hope the subterfuge works.) Thanks for posting this great recipe and photos!


30 Samantha Smith July 29, 2013 at 9:41 am

Wow! That is all I can say. I made these for a family get-together over the weekend and the results were incredible. Rave reviews, even from my husband who is somewhat undecided about coconut. Okay, a lot decided, and it’s usually pretty negative. I’d only just recently tried German Chocolate Brownies so I scoured the internet for a recipe to recreate the ones I had. When I came across your recipe, I had to try it, even though it wasn’t anywhere near the one I was looking for. Since then, I am addicted to your blog, and can’t wait to try more recipes (especially the Chai Tea Cupcakes from last week!!) I really appreciate all of the step-by-step photos, amazing photography, amazing recipes, but mostly the funny stories. Thank you!!!!!! :-)


31 Amanda September 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Can’t wait to make this for my co-workers birthday!
If I make them in advance, should I keep them refrigerated in an airtight container?


32 Darla September 19, 2014 at 11:35 am

If you’re only making it one day in advance, I recommend just covering it in an airtight container and leaving it at room temperature until ready to serve (unless you want to serve them cold). If you will be making it more than a day in advance, then yes, I would recommend covering and storing in the refrigerator.


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