Kramer and I are headed to Philadelphia this weekend! I’m really excited because I’ve never been there before (neither has Kramer). I was a history major in college, so hopefully I’ll be able to see a few key historic sites while I’m there, as well as enjoy the (hopefully) cooler weather! The reason that we have the opportunity to go is that my father is going to be in town for business, so my mother is tagging along with him and since we live so close, Kramer and I bought Amtrak tickets to meet them there Friday night. We’re only staying Saturday and Sunday, then heading off to New Jersey to see my Aunt Renée, her husband Kenny, and my grandfather (or as we call him, Poppa). I haven’t been to their area of New Jersey in years, so I’m really excited to return to the Motherland (I was born in Morristown, New Jersey). Back to Philadelphia, though – what are some of the things that we absolutely must do in our short time there? I already have plans to go to Mac’s Tavern (the bar that Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia opened), but I’m torn on which historical spots to see, since there are so many and I only have a day and a half to do it all in!
I had always wanted to make the famous Baked Brownie, but for some reason I continued to make the same old brownies over and over again because they always came out the way I wanted and it was a one-bowl recipe! I finally gave in, though, and made these to bring into work a few weeks ago. I wanted to spice them up a bit, so I added crushed pretzels and toffee bits on top, which created a lovely sweet-and-salty combination that was to die for, if I don’t say so myself. The baked brownie itself definitely lived up to its expectations. They were rich and fudgy, but not too dense. Every bite was filled with perfectly balanced chocolatey goodness, with a bit of a crunch from the pretzels and toffee. These brownies practically beg to be eaten along with a cold glass of milk, but you will be happy to eat one without, too. I know that a lot of people have a recipe for brownies that they would never think of faltering from, but for this baked brownie, I beg you to reconsider. These are perfect for the upcoming holiday weekend – who doesn’t love the classic sweet and salty combo?
Sprinkle with your crushed pretzels and toffee bits. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or so, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick. The top should not jiggle too much when shaken. Cover the pan with foil if it begins to brown too much on top.
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 11 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup toffee bits (I used Heath)
- ⅓ cup crushed pretzel bits
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line and/or grease sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Put the chocolate and room temperature butter in a non-stick sauce pan and place over low-heat. Stir often to prevent burning until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. You can also use a double boiler, if you have one, but I am lazy and usually use this method. Make sure your butter is room temperature before you put it in, though, or it and the chocolate will burn! Turn off the heat and whisk in the sugars (use a stand-up blender, if you have one). Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. Don’t be afraid if the mixture separates a little bit. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Add your eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add in the vanilla and whisk until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey, which is the opposite of what we want (fudgy!).
- Add the flour to the chocolate mixture a bit at a time. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer (or by hand, if you’re a champion), beat the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Finish by hand if you need to – do NOT overbeat!
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a greased spatula. Sprinkle the toffee and pretzels over the top as evenly as possible. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.
- Take the brownies out and place on a baking rack while still in the pan (if you don’t have a baking rack, don’t worry about it, I just like to use one so the air circulates under the brownies and they cool faster). Allow the brownies to cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve. Makes 25-36 brownies, depending on how small you cut them (I cut them small to take into work and got about 36 brownies).