Rocky Road Brownies
- 6 ounces (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 11/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
For Marshmallow Topping:
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan with nonstick pan spray and line with a sheet of parchment paper. Spray parchment as well.
- In a mixing bowl,whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add chocolate and nuts and toss to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, vanilla extract, and eggs. Pour wet into dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan emerges without crumbs. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on rack for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, carefully remove brownie from pan by lifting parchment sling. Let cool completely on rack.
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar, water, and vanilla bean. Place over high heat and stir with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. If there are sugar crystals ringing the sides of of the pan, wash them down with a wet pastry brush.
- Let the sugar mixture boil until it reaches a temperature of 242 degrees F on a candy thermometer. While it is coming up to this temperature, prepare the egg whites.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff.
- When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature, carefully remove the vanilla bean with a pair of tongs. Lower the speed of the stand mix to low and slowly pour the syrup into the beaten whites. Do not pour the syrup onto the whisk; aim for the side of the bowl where the egg whites are. Don't worry about splatters on the side of the bowl, just leave them there. When all the syrup has been poured in, increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to beat for about 5 minutes or until the bowl is barely warm when you place your hand on the bottom. The marshmallow creme should be silky and smooth and hold its shape when you lift the beater. This makes about 2 cups; store any leftover creme in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
- Remove parchment sling from brownie and place on serving platter. Spoon marshmallow topping over surface and smooth with an off-set spatula or butter knife. If desired, use a kitchen torch to toast the marshmallow topping, moving the flame in a sweeping motion from side to side to avoid scorching.
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- When beating egg whites, make sure your bowl and whisk are scrupulously clean. Any lingering trace of fat (including yolk, so separate carefully) will inhibit rising and leave you with flat whites that refuse to rise.
- Be extremely cautious when working with hot sugar syrup. It can cause one of the most serious and painful burns in the pastry kitchen. It's a good idea to work with a bowl of ice water on hand. If you splatter hot sugar syrup on your skin, immediately immerse it in the ice water to stop the burning process.
- When adding the sugar syrup to the beaten egg whites, be very careful to avoid the whisk. Otherwise, you will end up with a lovely web of spun sugar on your beater and a pool of stiff egg whites ~ no marshmallow.
- Cooled sugar syrup will form a seemingly impenetrable shell on your pan and utensils, which might lead you to despair of ever cooking with those objects again. No worries ~ run a little warm water into your saucepan, soak your spatula and bowls for a few minutes, and the sugar will dissolve with no problem.