Toffee Brownie Cake

Our family is coming up on Birthday Marathon Time, with a whole bunch of celebrating packed into the next few months. And this upcoming week hosts the highest birthday candle concentration of the entire year. First off are my father-in-law, Archie, and my nephew, Jesse, who share the same birth date. They are then closely followed up by my dad and my oldest daughter, who also share the same date.

We celebrate.

And then we celebrate.

And then we celebrate some more!

Archie in the Navy, early 1950’s

Archie is the best father-in-law ever. He is a kind and gentle man, chock-full of integrity. He loves a good laugh, is always up for a challenging game of Scrabble, and is never too busy to play with his grandchildren.

And what does this man who holds my utmost respect like to indulge in?
What comes to mind is…

* dark chocolate  (the real reason I love this man so!)
* nuts
* caramel/toffee

So I came up with this Toffee Brownie Cake to incorporate all of Archie’s favorites. The moist base sits somewhere between a fudgy brownie and a dark, dense cake. It’s then shamelessly slathered with a silky bittersweet chocolate ganache, followed up by a sprinkling of toffee bits that are perfectly crunchy and buttery.

If the toffee portion of this recipe looks familiar, it should! I adapted the toffee bits from my Mom’s Toffee Butter Crunch, a favorite family recipe.

Happy, Happy Birthday to you, Archie!


Toffee Brownie Cake

Ingredients:

for the toffee bits:

  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped almonds or pecans
  • 1 c. butter, plus additional for buttering the sauce pan
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 T. light corn syrup
  • 3 T. water

for the brownie cake:

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 T. espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

for the dark chocolate ganache:

  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream

Directions:

To prepare the toffee bits: Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with foil, extending over the edges. Sprinkle the chopped nuts in pan.

Butter sides of heavy 2 quart sauce pan. Melt 1 cup of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir until boiling. Clip candy thermometer to pan. Stir until candy thermometer reaches 290°, about 15 minutes. Watch carefully, as the temperature goes up quickly at the end.

Remove sauce pan from heat. Pour toffee into foiled lined pan. Let cool completely. Then remove toffee from pan and chop enough toffee into 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces to measure 1 cup of bits. (You have permission to eat the rest!) If making ahead of time, store tightly covered until ready to make the brownie cake.

To prepare the brownie cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Fold a 16″ long piece of foil into an 8″ x 16″ strip. Place in an 8″ x 8″ baking pan, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Repeat with another sheet of foil, laid in the pan in the opposite direction, to completely line the pan. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

In a medium heavy saucepan over very low heat, stir the bittersweet chocolate and butter until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Whisk in the espresso powder and vanilla. Then sprinkle the sifted dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and stir until just blended. Transfer batter to your prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a bit of moist batter attached, about 30 minutes. Be careful to not overbake, or your brownie cake will be on the dry side and not as fudgy. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

To prepare the dark chocolate ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute and then stir until the chocolate is melted and entirely smooth. If necessary, microwave on low for 15 seconds at a time, until the chocolate is melted. Do not overheat! Let the ganache sit on the counter until it is thickened, but still pourable, about 30 minutes.

Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the 1 cup of toffee bits, very lightly pressing them into the ganache. Chill for 2 hours to set.

Lift the brownies out of the pan using the foil overlap. Cut into your desired size.

a farmgirl’s dabbles

I’m linking up with:

Cheryl at Tidy Mom for “I’m Lovin’ It”
Allison at Alli ‘n Son for “Sweet Tooth Friday”
Kim at Quit Eating Out for “Saturday Swap”