There are two kinds of brownie lovers in the world: those who love edges, and those who don’t.
I fall into the latter category.
And because of that trait of mine, I should have known better than to take an edge piece for my first bite of these brownies. I admit, at first bite, I wasn’t thrilled. They were okay but seemed a bit cakey. (That said, I guess there are two more types of brownies lovers: those who prefer cakey brownies, and those who like fudgy brownies; again, I’m in the latter group.)
The next day, I decided I should probably try an inner brownie, and I should probably warm it through slightly, to get it nice and gooey again.
It helped. THIS brownie started to cross over to the fudgy side (and the warming through helped the chocolate chips lose their bloom from resting overnight in a cold kitchen).
Admittedly, the gooey marshmallows help “fudge up” the texture of the brownie a bit, but it still fell a bit short of the texture I was looking for. My original inclination was to use whole eggs, and I can’t help but think it would have improved the texture (for me, anyway). But, this recipe was published in a magazine that tries to marry food that is good for you and food that still tastes good.
While that’s great for meals, when it comes to dessert, I don’t believe in trying to healthify (not a word, I know) a dish. It’s dessert. It’s supposed to be rich. And sinful. Decadent, perhaps. But above all else, delicious and satisfying, something so worth looking forward to that you’ll give up part of your meal so you can have it.
That’s not to take away from the recipe. As I mentioned earlier, if you like your brownie on the cakey side, you’ll probably enjoy this as is. They are very, very chocolatey – all you need is a small piece to be satisfied – and gooey, courtesy of the marshmallows. I simply prefer a different texture.
These were good with pecans, but I have to say, they probably would have been excellent with salty roasted peanuts. What is it with that combination of salty and sweet that so many of us love?
Rocky Road Brownies
adapted from Alice Medrich, Eating Well Magazine January 2011
1 cup, less 1 tablespoon, all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, unsweetened cocoa powder*
pinch espresso powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 large marshmallows
2/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
Spray the bottom and sides 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray; line with criss-crossing sheets of parchment paper (spray the bottom of the first sheet before adding the second; spray the second sheet as well); leave an overhang so you can easily remove the brownies later on.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt butter in medium saucepan until it sizzles; remove from heat. Add cocoa powder and espresso powder, mix until combined. Add the sugar and stir until well-mixed – it will resemble very dark brown sugar in texture. Add eggs and vanilla, stir until glossy and smooth. Add flour and stir to combine, then beat 50 strokes by hand (the batter is very thick – you will get a bit of a workout here).
Transfer the batter to the square pan. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.
Heat a large skillet over medium. Toast pecans until they start to brown slightly and smell “nutty.” Set aside.
Remove pan from refrigerator for 30 minutes to warm slightly.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
With an oiled knife (use a neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable), quarter the marshmallows and spread over the brownie batter. Push slightly into the batter. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips over batter. Bake 25-30 minutes, until the marshmallows are lightly browned.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. Lift parchment edges to remove brownies from pan; cut into 16 squares.
*Medrich recommends using natural cocoa powder, but I decided to try this recipe using Dutched cocoa. Generally, natural and Dutched cocoa powders are not interchangeable, but since brownies often don’t include leavening in the recipe (and this recipe does include a little baking powder), I decided to go ahead and try it anyway. Usually, if you’re using Dutched cocoa powder in a recipe calling for natural cocoa, the recipe will need some additional leavening, generally baking soda.