When i was in college, my friend Z used to bring these amazing brownies made by her mom. Aunt S is an excellent cook and a great baker which is a rare combination.Those days when brownies were almost unheard of in India, she used to make the most delicious brownies oozing with chocolate and walnuts. Couple of weeks ago I found a recipe for Fran’s chocolate brownies in this book and it brought back memories of college and Z’s famous brownies. Fran’s is a popular chocolate store in Seattle which is famous for its decadent truffles and caramels. Their signature Gold Bars, gooey with caramel and almonds are the best in the world. This is Fran Bigelow’s recipe and the best thing about these brownies is you can make these with any local store ingredients which means even if you don’t have a Fran’s Chocolate store close to where you live, you can whip up a batch of this with ease.
This is a chewy, fudgy brownie, rich with chocolate and almonds. My kitchen was smelling so good for almost 2 days after baking these. The measurements given in the recipe makes 24 brownies. I kept a couple for us, sent the remaining to Yumjays office and to my friend Z. Yumjay said it was a big hit and Z couldn’t stop saying how yummy it was. These brownies store well for up to 1 week in the refrigerator and individual portions can be wrapped and stored in freezer for 2 months. Warm them for 20 seconds in the microwave and eat them plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
1 teaspoon butter for greasing the pan
2 cups whole almonds ( I used store bought toasted, silvered almonds)
1 pound semisweet chocolate ( I used chocolate chips)
1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup+2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1.75 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 cup caramel sauce ( I used trader joe’s caramel sauce)
1. If using whole almonds, toast them in an oven at 325F for 15 minutes. Roughly chop into pieces, when completely cooled. Set aside.
2. Take three-quarters of the semisweet chocolate and set it aside for melting. The remaining 1/4 will get stirred directly into the finished batter.
3. Place semisweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. When the chocolate has nearly melted, remove from heat and stir until smooth. Alternatively you could place them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for a minute and stir until smooth.
4. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and white sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions and scraping the bowl as needed.
6. With the hand mixer on low speed, pour in the melted chocolate, then increase speed to medium and beat for 15seconds.
7. Fold in the sifted cake flour by hand until no traces of it remain. You can use store bought cake flour or convert all purpose flour to cake flour by following the step listed here.
8. Fold in the toasted almonds and reserved semisweet chocolate chips.
9. Spread the batter into a 13X9 buttered pan in an even layer.
10. Spoon caramel sauce over the top in tablespoon-size dollops. Draw a table knife back and forth through the batter, swirling the caramel into the batter a bit.
11. Preheat oven to 325F. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the brownie section comes out with moist crumbs attached.
12. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan for at least an hour. They are fragile when hot. Cut them into 24 squares and remove the squares with a spatula.