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Congo Brownies

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

You will never have to choose between a brownie and a blondic again, since these nut-studded bars have layers of both to double your pleasure. These easy-to-eat-out-of-hand bars will leave sweet impressions when you take them to a group picnic or a bake sale, or tuck them into lunch boxes. To keep the bars fresh for several days, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or clear cellophane.

To store, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, bake and cool as directed but do not glaze. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature, 2 to 3 hours, then glaze as directed.

2 to 4 dozen bars, depending on the size

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free

Mealsnack, tea

Taste and Texturechocolatey, nutty, sweet

Type of Dishdessert

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups (6¼ ounces/175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces (¾ stick/85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed (8 ounces/225 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces/115 grams) chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces/140 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (¾ ounce/25 grams) unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups (9¼ ounces/260 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces (8s grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Before baking:

  2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan (quarter sheet pan), then flour it, tapping out the excess flour.

  3. To make the Congo Layer:

  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar, egg, egg white, and vanilla just until blended. Stir in the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth.

  5. Scoop the thick, sticky batter onto 8 or 9 different areas on the bottom of the prepared pan. With an offset spatula, spread the batter to cover the pan as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly on top and gently press them into the batter.

  6. Partially bake the layer until it is no longer shiny on top and is beginning to come away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the Brownie Layer.

  7. To make the Brownie Layer:

  8. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over very low heat, stirring with a silicone spatula until smooth. Or, combine in a medium microwave-safe bowl and melt in a microwave oven at 50 percent power (medium) for 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst, until melted, 1 to 1½ minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.

  9. Stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until incorporated. Add the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth. Scoop the thick, sticky batter onto 8 or 9 different areas of the still-warm Congo Layer. With the offset spatula, spread the batter as evenly as possible.

  10. Bake the brownie until the top is no longer shiny; appears set; feels firm, rather than soft; and a round wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist chocolate crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. The top layer will set up as it cools.

  11. To make the Chocolate Glaze:

  12. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil over medium-low heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Whisk together until smooth and creamy. Set the mixture aside at room temperature just until it cools a bit and begins to thicken slightly.

  13. Fashion a small cone out of parchment paper and half fill it with the liquid glaze. Snip a small opening at the end of the paper cone to allow a thin flow of glaze. Exerting light pressure on the cone, and never easing the pressure or halting the motion, pipe thin lines of chocolate in a zigzag pattern over the cooled surface of the brownie. Set aside at room temperature until the glaze is set, 1 to 1½ hours.

  14. To serve, cut the brownie lengthwise into seven 1¾-inchwide strips, and then cut crosswise into seven 1¼-inch-wide strips, to yield forty-nine 1¾ by 1¼-inch bars. Or, cut lengthwise into 6 strips and crosswise into 4 strips to yield twenty-four 2-inch squares.

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