Tag Archives: caramel

Heart of Darkness Brownies

23 Aug

It seemed fitting to kick off this blog with a recipe from the first cookbook my husband ever gave me – Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.

His inscription in the book (I can’t wait to see all the great things you whip up!) inspired me to immediately try out a recipe for risotto rice pudding. While it tasted amazing, the texture and overall appearance of the final product left much to be desired. I haven’t tried another recipe from the book since… maybe due to an underlying feeling that the recipes were a bit out of my league.

Well, no more excuses. These desserts are too mouth-watering not to give it another go. This time around I attempted the sinful Heart of Darkness Brownies.

Per usual, I adjusted the recipe to make the treats slightly less hurtful to the waistline. I reduced the amount of butter, sugar, and candy bits, used some whole wheat pastry flour, and replaced the heavy cream with light cream.

The brownies were so rich and satisfying that I didn’t even notice the “healthful” adjustments. These bad boys are the real deal; the epitome of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.

The deep chocolately aroma of the batter and baked brownies smelled truly heavenly. My husband and his friend were so grateful for the treats that they washed all the dishes. Now that’s a good brownie!

Heart of Darkness Brownies

Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Makes 24 brownie cups (my batch yielded 30 cups)


The set-up: Original recipe (*My Adjustments)
  • 1½ cups or 3 sticks unsalted butter (*2 ½ sticks)
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar (*2 cups sugar)
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour (*1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped almonds or pecans, toasted – see directions below
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 5 full-size (2.07 ounces each) Snickers candy bars, cut into small chunks (*10 fun-size Snickers Almond bars)
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows for topping

For the Caramel Drizzle Sauce:

  • 6 ounces or about 25 caramel candies (*15 caramel creams)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (*4 tablespoons light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt (1/16 teaspoon)


*If you are toasting the nuts: On an ungreased baking sheet, toast the nuts at 350°F for about 6 minutes or until lightly browned. To prevent burning, move the nuts around a few times while baking. Remove nuts from oven and lay out flat on paper towel or plate to cool.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Stir frequently until smooth. When the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is well combined, remove from heat.
  3. Transfer melted chocolate to a large mixing bowl. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, lightly beaten eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir until well mixed.
  4. Add sifted flour and salt to the chocolate mixture. Stir just until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Stir in toasted nuts, chocolate chips, and candy bar pieces. Batter will be thick and gooey (and smell amazing!).
  6. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling half to ¾ full. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until brownies have a slightly cracked top.
  7. Remove from oven and press marshmallows into the top of each brownie (about ¼ cup each or a small handful). Bake again for about 2-4 minutes until marshmallows are slightly browned.
  8. Let the brownies cool in the tin on top of a wire rack for about 5 minutes or until tin is cool enough to handle. Remove the brownies from the tin using a knife around the edges, careful not to puncture the brownies (which may cause the brownie to crumble). Cool completely on a wire rack or parchment paper.
  9. Drizzle caramel sauce onto brownies – see directions below.
  10. Cool at room temp (not in the fridge). Store in covered container for up to 3 days.

Caramel Drizzle Sauce

Tip: Wait until all the brownies are cooling on the wire rack 
before making the caramel sauce. Otherwise the sauce may get 
too thick if it sits long.
  1. Lightly coat a microwave-safe bowl with non-fat cooking spray.
  2. Add caramels, cream, vanilla extract and salt. Mix.
  3. Microwave on high for about 1 minute, uncovered. Stir caramel mixture.
  4. Microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir until caramel is smooth. (Repeat until desired consistency is reached.)
  5. Drizzle caramel sauce over brownies.

Lofty Bites’ Notes

Thoughts on my “healthful” adjustments: When making these brownies again, I would use the full amount of butter (3 sticks) to prevent crumbling. I think the amount of sugar can be reduced even further to 1½ or 1¾ cups and the amount of chocolate chips could be cut back without sacrificing taste. The combination of flours worked well, but whole wheat pastry flour could be used for the entire 1½ cups if desired.

Toasting the nuts is optional, but it definitely brings a more intense, nutty flavor to the brownie. I recommend it since the process is quick and well worth the effort. Obviously you could swap in your favorite type of nuts and the same goes for the candy bar.

I used caramel creams for the caramel sauce because the store ran out of regular caramel candies. The sauce was still yummy, but I would recommend regular caramel candies or even making caramel sauce from scratch. If you are in a pinch, store-bought caramel sauce would also do the trick.

My final and most important note of all – DO NOT … I repeat … DO NOT use dark coated muffin tins. Use ones that are light silver with a good nonstick coating. I used three different tins: a dark coated tin (pictured left), a light silver nonstick tin from Crate & Barrel (pictured right), and a nonstick Calphalon tin. The latter two tins worked best.

As you can see, the dark coated tin resulted in a crumbly mess (albeit a delicious crumbly mess).

Yup. There was a flub on my first blog recipe. But that’s what I’m here for – to prevent this from happening to you! Plus, I promised to share my mishaps with you and a promise is a promise.

Let me leave you with another promise: I promise that if you have a serious sweet tooth like me, you’ll be hooked after just one bite of this fudgy, nutty, caramel brownie goodness.


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