Brown Butter Hazelnut Brownies · GF (serves 15-20)
This recipe is quite similar to the one I used to make Port Brownies, but the changes became significant enough that I felt it deserved its own page. One of the ways that it differs is that I call for instant espresso powder. This doesn’t add any perceptible coffee flavor (my coffee hating Mr. BraveTart would speak up if it did), but rather it rounds out the flavor of the chocolate and gives the whole thing a bit more depth.
My friend Sarah Jane graciously came over so I wouldn’t have to post this recipe sans photos. Isn’t she the best?
Dress the brownies up or down by baking them in either a 9“x13” pan and cutting into simple squares, or bake them in 4” round tart pans. Even as a super casual square, these brownies have a seriously elegant flavor.
16 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces dark chocolate (70% minimum) chopped
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved or 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
7 ounces toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
4.5 ounces cocoa powder (not Hershey’s. I’m serious.)
21 ounces sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp instant coffee powder
optional: additional chocolate for drizzling or dipping
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Line a 9“x13” metal baking pan with a sheet of aluminum foil; one long strip down the middle and hanging over the ends will get the job done. This will make removing the brownies super easy, and cleaning up a little less onerous. Alternately, lightly greases 15, 4” round tart pans.
What to do: melt the butter, along with the vanilla bean, in a medium saucepan over low heat until liquefied. (If you’re using vanilla extract, don’t add it now. Add it in later, with the salt and espresso.)
Crank up the heat to medium low. The mixture will bubble, possibly spit, and make a lot of noise. Keep an eye on it, and keep simmering. You’ll notice brown bits forming on the bottom, you don’t want these bits to turn black*. Don’t bother with stirring or skimming, just watch and listen and possibly turn down the heat if it looks too toasty. After a while, the butter will really go ninja silent, which means you’re done.
Now remove from/shut off the heat and add in the chocolate. Whisk, scraping along the bottom to mix up the browned bits, until smooth. The mixture will be quite thin. Set off the heat to cool.
Put the hazelnuts and cocoa in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Don’t bother sifting, the nibby bits of hazelnut are really nice in the finished brownie. Set aside.
With a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, reserved vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract if you’re going that route), salt, and espresso powder. Whip on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
Turn down the speed on the stand mixer to low and pour in the butter/chocolate mixture all at once. Immediately add in the dry ingredients and keep mixing until just incorporated.
Pour or spoon into the prepared pan or pans. Bake about 30 minutes for the large pan, and closer to 15 for the 4” rounds. Bake until just slightly firm to the touch. They may not seem totally done when you pull them out, but this particular brownie is so very dense that it will retain its heat and keep cooking for quite some time. Err on the side of gooey.
Cool the brownies thoroughly before cutting or removing from the pans.
In the case of the 9“x13” pan, lift the brownies out of the pan by tugging on the foil. If you’re looking to get extremely neat squares, refrigerate the brownies for an hour before cutting.
In the case of the 4” rounds, wedge a toothpick between the brownie and the pan, wiggle to loosen the brownie, then flip the pan over and rap firmly against the counter. It should pop right out, but if you have trouble, keep toothpicking around the edges until the brownie comes out.
In either case, drizzle or cover in tempered chocolate if you like, or serve them as-is.
*If you were to accidentally blacken your butter, you can still save the day! Instead of mixing the chocolate into the butter, strain the butter into the chocolate, so as not to incorporate any of the burned bits. The butter will have a pronounced toasty flavor, but it is actually quite yummy. I’ve saved a batch or two with this method, so fear not.
Jul 04, 2011 · 9:30 PM
These look unbelievably good. My favorite gluten-free brownies right now use all purpose gf flour, but I’ve been experimenting with nut flours more and I love the flavor they lend.
· Evan Thomas · http://thewannabechef.net
Jul 05, 2011 · 1:09 PM
@Evan, I really didn’t think making gluten free brownies would be as easy as just tossing in hazelnut flour, I love when GF baking takes me by surprise & turns out better than the traditional version.
Jul 05, 2011 · 3:37 PM
Loved them great job and pics kudos to you
· Maria · http://flavorsofmumbai.com
Jul 05, 2011 · 5:10 PM
Rich, dark flavor….so good.
· briarrose · http://flourdusted.blogspot.com/
Jul 06, 2011 · 9:55 AM
@Maria, thank you.
@Briarrose, I seriously need a break from all these summery fruit desserts!
Jul 11, 2011 · 2:00 AM
These are WONDERFUL!!!!
· Hester aka The Chef Doc · http://www.thechefdoc.com
Jul 11, 2011 · 11:44 AM
Thanks Hester! I just put a batch into some ice cream…. Evil.
Aug 20, 2011 · 3:39 AM
These brownies look ridiculously good. Dangerous to have in the house!!
· Beth Michelle · http://bethmichelle.com
Aug 21, 2011 · 12:34 PM
@Beth, they are definitely a danger! But a risk I’m willing to take…
Jun 28, 2012 · 5:07 PM
@luv2cook, These brownies are definitely on the fudgey rather than cakey end of the spectrum but they are not gooey in that wet, squishy, raw sort of way. If yours are the later, it may be that your oven runs a little cool and they need a longer bake time for you.
But if gooey just means fudgey, then yes, they are gooey! Their texture depends on the bake time more so than the ingredients, so you can control the texture by baking them more or less to suit. Hope that makes sense!
Jun 28, 2012 · 10:17 PM
@Luv2cook, oh whew! Glad I replied in time!
Aug 10, 2012 · 5:49 PM
Aw, Marmalade, you’re such a good pal! I’m happy to hear your friend approved. Have fun baking your way through the GF list (Fauxreos are a personal favorite)!
Sep 25, 2012 · 12:30 AM
Thanks for the recipe Chef!
The mouth feel of these brownies is ridiculous. In between a fudge and brownie. At first I cut the batch into 16 pieces …but realized that those pieces were WAY too big because of the richness.
I also used walnuts (bought the wrong nuts lol) and I didn’t grind them completely because I like chunks.
I now have 64 small amazing little brownies ..perfect texture and amount of sweetness to end a meal.
Just an amazing recipe. Simple ingredients, good technique, exploding flavors.
Question, have you experimented sweetening substitutes such as stevia ?
Sep 25, 2012 · 6:42 PM
Hey, Baby Joe! Thanks so much for the feedback. I haven’t tried these with walnuts, believe it or not. Glad to hear they work just as well (I tried a pecan version once, didn’t work out so hot).
Nov 08, 2012 · 7:12 AM
In your opinion, do you think these brownies would take well to having things added into the mix? I’m making them for a birthday party (my best friend’s little sister) and she’s 9. We have a ton of leftover Halloween candy and my friend suggested I add snickers, as her sister LOVES them. I hate to use a less-delicious brownie recipe but I’m not sure the dense fudgy-ness of these will pair well with candy. Thoughts?
Nov 08, 2012 · 9:22 AM
Hi Cass! I think these brownies might pair well with some candies, but I have a feeling Snickers would be a little over the top. As a rule, when it comes to adding mix-ins, I think looking for contrast makes the best pairing. The brownies are super dense, chewy and nutty (just like a Snickers) so the addition wouldn’t add anything new and might make ‘em overwhelmingly rich (they’re super, super rich to begin with). But something crunchy or semi-salty from the trick-or-treat bag would work really well, I think. Reese’s Pieces, for example, are small enough to not overwhelm and would add a contrasting flavor/texture. But for some people more is more, so follow your cravings!
Nov 08, 2012 · 3:35 PM
Thanks for the advice! I figure since they’re kids, the parents will give them small portions anyway, so I went ahead with the snickers. The brownies are SUPER thick now but hey, I bet they’ll be delicious. The top is really shiny for some reason? Maybe to do with the amount of time I beat the eggs and sugar? In any case, thanks for the recipe, it rocks!
Nov 10, 2012 · 9:54 AM
Hi Cass! Shiny tops are a major win, as far as I’m concerned. Didja get that nice papery layer on top too? I’m still working to figure out just what causes that (cos I love it) and I think it has to do with the sugar/fat ratios. So adding Snickers would definitely up the sugar/fat content and back up that theory. Hmmm….
Mar 27, 2013 · 11:36 AM
I’ve just baked them this morning because I was utterly enticed by the addition of brown butter and my flat smells heavenly right now. I baked them in a 10×15inch pan because my 9×13 is on the shallow side and the batter filled it out completely. How do you get them to fit your 9×13 tray?
can’t wait to try them tonight
· Han-Na · http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/hcha
Mar 27, 2013 · 6:29 PM
Hi Han-Na! Oh, I know that smell alllll to well. Your neighbors must wonder what’s going on! Are you using glass or metal pans? My 9×13” pan is metal, with straight sides, and about 2” deep. Glass pans lose a lot of real estate from the sloping sides all around the edges. I wonder if that’s what’s going on between our two pans? Let me know, I’m curious!
Apr 02, 2013 · 8:53 AM
Hi Sharina! Absolutely! When I’ve done almonds, I tend to use commercial almond flour, rather than grinding my own, but either will work!
Apr 03, 2013 · 9:15 AM
Hi Sharina! Macarons are really fun if a) you don’t care how they look or b) you love a challenge. Some people just can’t make ‘em without feeling like a “failure” if they don’t turn out drop dead gorgeous. And some people love trying over and over again on their quest. But some people realize that they’ll always be tastier than they are cute, and worth a few cosmetic flaws for a delicious treat. And I think that last group is the really smart one. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the brownies!!
Apr 08, 2013 · 12:05 AM
Hi Sharina! I think you’re gonna love it! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out.
Aug 07, 2013 · 1:12 PM
Hi tam! Wow, I’m so glad you finally got around to them! With me, once I’ve held onto a recipe for so long, I usually just wind up throwing them away or deleting my bookmarks. My brain can’t handle it. Happy that the recipe survived the wait!
Aug 11, 2013 · 7:11 PM
Hi Stella – I love this brownie recipe and have made it a lot. Consequently, all my family and friends have grown to love it too, and I have been asked to make a brownie wedding cake for a small wedding. To make it look more “cake-like”, I’m planning to bake it in two round pans and stack them, covering the cake in a thin layer of chocolate ganache and serving some raspberry coulis on the side. Just wondering if you have any suggestions for a filling between the two layers? The cake will need to be kept for a full day before serving, so I need something that will last. Thanks for the great recipe, and the wonderful, inspiring blog! I’m so looking forward to your cookbook! Trudi
Aug 12, 2013 · 9:59 AM
Hi Sophia! Aw, I’m so happy to hear that. I really love this version too. It’s always fun to have some GF recipes that can show other people how good GF can be! Thanks for taking the time to let me know how they turned out for you.
Aug 12, 2013 · 10:04 AM
Hi Trudi! A brownie wedding cake sounds awesome! I did one once, but they wanted individual pieces of brownies stacked up into the shape of the cake, so I didn’t have to worry about filling. The problem with different fillings is that they need to be kept cold, while brownies are best served at room temperature, so I can’t think of anything that would be stable enough to last at room temperature, since you don’t want to refrigerate the brownies overnight (probably). I’ll keep thinking, maybe something will come to mind…