I really love these brownies. They came about one weekend when I was tasked with bringing a dessert to a dinner. I concocted a rather elaborate idea using a ton of expensive ingredients. It was a total flop, I mean it did not work at all. But I still needed to supply the sweet and I didn’t want to show up with something store-bought. Nor did I want to try something elaborate or expensive. Brownies are always my back up, but I didn’t want to make just basic brownies (not that there is anything wrong with that…). I foraged around a little to come up with a slightly more sophisticated brownie, based on my basic recipe. So I browned the butter, which is my secret weapon for everything and possibly my favorite substance on earth. I found a package of chopped toasted hazelnuts in the freezer and some toffee bits in the pantry and knew I was on to something. And man was I right, these turned out better than I’d hoped. A basic brownie taken up a notch.
You can pour your browned butter into a heat proof mixing bowl to save clean up or decant it into a heat proof measuring jug first. Browned butter is hot, and you don’t want to leave it in the pan because it will continue to cook and burn. I find roasted chopped hazelnuts in the baking aisle with other nuts, but sometimes they are with the ice cream toppings. You can certainly toast your own hazelnuts in a dry skillet, rub off the skins and chop them finely yourself.
Hazelnut Toffee Brownies
12 – 16servings
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup roasted chopped hazelnuts
½ cup toffee bits
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper, with some overhang for lifting out the brownies.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a small saucepan (light colored or stainless is best so you can see the butter as it browns). Heat over medium high heat, watching constantly, until the butter is melted. It will start to spit and hiss, then you will see brown speckles appear. Swirl the butter around to distribute the browned bits, and as soon as the butter has an even brown color and a nice nutty smell, pour it into a heat proof mixing bowl. Leave to cool until just warm. Add the brown and granulated sugar to the butter and stir to combined completely. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until thoroughly mixed in. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt and stir until there are no visible streaks of dry ingredients. Add the hazelnuts and toffee bits and stir to distribute evenly. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the brownies for 40 -45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with fudgy bits clinging to it, but not liquid batter. The top should be wrinkly and slightly glossy. Cool completely on a wire rack, then lift out by the foil overhang and slice.