Sometimes I hear about a recipe and I can’t get it out of my head. And so it was when the words “praline brownie” were dropped into a conversation recently. For weeks I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing such a thing might be.
To get the brownie out of my head, I had to make it. The results were a triumph, so naturally I had to share them.
This is the most toothsome, fudgy and utterly divine brownie I’ve ever tasted and I highly recommend making it for a special occasion.
Buy the praline if you don’t fancy making it, but once you master it, it is extremely easy.
For the praline:
- 1 cup sugar (caster or regular white sugar)
- quarter cup of water
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts – eg hazelnuts, pecans or almonds
Stir the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Increase the temperature until the mixture is bubbling, and boil (not furiously, but happily bubbling) until it’s changing colour, about 8 minutes. While it’s cooking, place a large sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
Take the mixture off the stove and let it cool down a little for a minute and add the nuts. Pour onto the baking sheet and spread until you have a thin layer. Let it set for about an hour. Smash it up (hit it with a rolling pin between two pieces of baking paper) and set aside.
This will make more than you will need for one batch of brownies, but I find making it in smaller quantities doesn’t work as well. You can store it in an air tight container and use it for another batch of brownies, or other desserts.
Tips: When you get it right, it’s very easy to make praline. But I know from experience it’s also easy to stuff it up, usually by crystallising. Use a good heavy based saucepan and a wooden, not metal spoon to stir. Avoid splashing on the sides of the pan. It will often crystallise if the temperature is too high but I have crystallised it on a low heat too. Never scrape the crystallised bits on the edge back in. If you mess it up once, like I have many times, just try again (it’s not like it’s expensive) and experiment with your temperature. Soak crystallised pan in warm water to remove the hardened sugar.
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 200 g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 200 g butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 120 grams flour
- 1/3 cup praline
Grease and flour a square, approx 27 x 20 cm baking pan (won’t matter if it’s a little smaller, but you don’t want much bigger than this) and line with baking paper so it’s hanging over the sides. This will make the brownie easy to lift out.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (or over a boiling pan on the stove if you prefer -microwave is quicker and easier, I find).
Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in the slightly cooled down butter and chocolate mixture, and the vanilla. Fold in the flour – don’t be tempted to add more flour as I have done in the past, thinking the mixture was too runny. Too much flour will dry it out. This is not a cake, it’s meant to be a fudgy slice and the mixture should be quite runny.
Fold in the praline. Now, you can add as little or as much as you like here. I find that about a third of a cup is enough, noting that I’ve adjusted the sugar in the recipe to account for it. By all means add more but bear in mind it will become very sweet. The pieces will melt into the brownie as it’s cooked, so you don’t have to make them very small, but no bigger than about 3 cm is ideal.
Bake for approx 25 minutes, taking care not to overbake which will dry the brownie out. If you check with a skewer/spaghetti stick it will be moist and a little sticky when it’s ready, so also check by touching the middle and making sure it’s not wobbling.
Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder. Decorate with little shards of praline if you like.