July 7, 2009 by skwishface
Sounds fancy, right? Almonds! Toffee! Two kinds of chocolate! In brownie form! Well, I don’t mind telling you, this dish requires a certain amount of skill. There’s some pretty extensive culinary training involved. Baking is a science, a deft application of chemistry and mathematics that borders on alchemy. Really, this particular dessert may be a bit advanced for most of you. I’ll try to keep the steps as simple as possible so –
Okay, so all I did was read the damn box.
Look, baking really is a science. Turns out you need more precise measurements than my usual pinch-of-this-dash-of-that-just-keep-pouring-till-it-smells-right methods. And as I’ve mentioned before, my measuring spoons are somewhere lost in the bowels of my kitchen on vacation. And my measuring cups are moonlighting as toddler water toys. So when it comes time to bake up treats, I don’t do “from scratch”. And everyone thanks me for it.
I do, however, feel the need to get creative with the handy box mixes that I buy. Not in any way that alters the chemical structure of the finished product, but there is always room for flavor improvement. Also, if I’m going to actually bake something, it needs to not impact my wallet in any significant way. Behold!
Almond Toffee Double-Chocolate Brownies
1 box dark chocolate brownie mix
1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs (or whatever the box says)
20 or so Hershey’s Nuggets Almond Toffee Milk Chocolate candies
All told, these ingredients cost about $5. Shop generic and nobody will ever know the difference. I will now contradict myself and say that OMG you really should use the Hershey’s brand candies. They’re heavenly. Want a closer look at the candies? I know I do!
First! Take a bowl, and introduce the box mix to its required ingredients:
You could use some kind of kitchen gadget to mix it all up, but I just use a fork or a spoon. For real, it’s not like you’re stirring for hours, and the mix is very forgiving. It doesn’t hurt to go through the dry mix and bust up any big clumps before you add the wet ingredients, just to save yourself a few extra turns around the bowl.
Next, lay out your cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin and fill less than halfway with brownie mix:
Why use the muffin/cupcake stuff when brownies are traditionally one in a big pan? Especially when it even says right on the box that this recipe is intended for a 9×13 pan? I have two simple words for you: PORTION. CONTROL.
With a big pan of brownies, it is all too easy to hack off a big slab and cram it in your face as fast as you can until your cheeks bulge just so your son doesn’t catch you snitching dessert without offering to share with him. Not that I’m speaking from experience. Also, there’s the chance of deceiving yourself into the “I’ll just have a little piece” trap in which you “little piece” yourself into a diabetic coma. Muffin/cupcake-sized brownies are just the right size, with the added benefit of stacking up empty wrappers as evidence of how much you’ve consumed. When you devour half a dozen, you’ll have a six-high stack of wrappers staring at you in silent accusation.
Moving on! Unwrap your candies. Eat a few. There’s a whole lot more in the bag than you’ll need.
Insert the candies logo-side-down in the center of each brownie cup, and gently tap the candy down till it’s roughly level with the surface of the mix. Then add just enough mix to each cup to cover the candy and take the level to just over half-full:
Bake! Keep in mind, the cooking time on the box is most likely not designed for muffin-sized brownies. You’ll have to shorten the cook time to compensate for the smaller brownie. For instance, this box suggested 28-30 minutes for a 9×13 pan. I shorted that down to 21 minutes and got brownies that were just barely underdone. This makes them extra chewy.
While they’re baking, it’s important to keep your cooking area clean. With your tongue:
You know the brownies are done when you can stick a toothpick in near the edge and it comes out clean. Why the edge? Because there’s a glob of melty goodness in the middle which will foul your test, though it will make your toothpick delicious.
Let them cool a bit before you try to extract them. The wrappers make this super easy, but hot brownies get deformed easily.
Serve warm with a glass of milk. Or ice cream. Or whipped cream. Or you bare, grasping, sticky fingers.