For a household that relies almost exclusively on wine for libation, we have a liquor cabinet that is filled to capacity. Rum, brandy, vodka, whiskey and a variety of liqueurs–all opened, in varying degrees of almost-full. What is the shelf life of alcohol anyway? Opened bottles of wine certainly never last long around here but the others, after one or two uses requiring no more than a tablespoon or two, sit forgotten in the cabinet.
When I had a craving for sweets recently I was resolved to add a boozy element to it, no matter what.
These brownies were a product of that mission. A classic brownie is hard to beat–I have a few recipes in the archives–but a food blogger always tweaks what’s already good to see if a recipe can be made just a little better. Besides the plan to incorporate bourbon in this batch of brownies I wanted to add Toblerone pieces, one of my favorite chocolate bars from childhood. And coffee has an enhancing effect on chocolate baked goods so I threw that in, too. Then I spied a lone, overripe banana on the counter and I said, “Why not?”
As the brownies baked in the oven I did wonder if adding four extra elements to one baked good would be a mistake. I was anxious for the brownies to cool so I could take a bite.
The first thing you taste is chocolate, of course, followed closely by the bourbon. I wasn’t expecting to taste the espresso and I was pleased to see that I used just enough to enhance the chocolate experience. The banana was the last to hit the palate and I really liked it; it was very subtle. The Toblerone chunks melted into the brownies but every once in a while I got a random chunk of chocolate and nougat.
For a non-hard liquor drinker like me, I thought the bourbon flavor was just a tad prominent but my husband absolutely loved it. When I brought the rest of the bars to the office the next day they received nothing but rave reviews. The bourbon flavor actually mellowed a lot the next day so just when I thought that I’d have to reduce the bourbon component by half next time, I decided that I’d keep this recipe exactly as it is.
One-fourth cup of the bourbon down…the rest of the bottle to go…
Espresso Bourbon Brownies with Toblerone Chunks
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup bourbon or milk
- 2 tablespoons espresso granules
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans
- 2 ounces Toblerone chocolate or the entire bar chopped into chunks
- 1 mashed banana optional
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a small saucepan until smooth and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350℉, line an 8x8-inch baking pan with foil--two layers with overhang on all four sides. Spray the foil with cooking spray. Stir together the bourbon and coffee granules in a small bowl and set aside.
Stir the sugar into the chocolate-butter mixture followed by the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition just until combined. Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon mixture.
Stir together the flour and baking soda in another bowl then stir it into the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the mashed banana, just enough to combine the ingredients then stir in the Toblerone chunks and toasted pecans.
Bake for 30 minutes then cool in the pan on a wire rack. Use the edges of the foil to lift out the block then set it on a cutting board. Divide equally into thirds to yield 9 bars.
As a guide, I used very loosely the Bourbon Brownie Petit Fours recipe from Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookies (2012 magazine print).