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Caramel Swirl Pecan Brownies 02

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

A quick and easy brownie recipe, and pretty versatile to be honest. Having invited my parents over for dinner a couple weeks ago, I was looking for something simple to serve for dessert. Cakes and cupcakes seemed too fussy for the mood I was in.

Caramel Swirl Pecan Brownies 01

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

The meal was simple and I wanted to keep the dessert inline with that. Besides I had already planned on spending half my day at gym, so there really wouldn’t have been time to make a cake and frost it. Not when there was pizza dough to knead and pasta to roll out and dry…

Caramel Swirl Pecan Brownies 03

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

Generally I make my brownies with peanut butter in them. However my mother hates peanut butter baked into sweets. I know, we may have finally found proof that I’m adopted. She’ll only eat peanut butter on toast, or perhaps off a spoon. So every time I’ve made peanut butter swirl brownies or chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, they were never a big hit with her. She does however love turtle chocolates, so I figured I could replace the peanut butter with caramel, and throw in some chopped pecans. Easy Peasy.

Caramel Swirl Pecan Brownies 05

© David James Di Pardo – 2016

You could make the salted caramel I used in the millionaire cake, but I chose to go for something simpler. A two ingredient date caramel. Ridiculously easy to make, and baked nicely into the brownies. I chose to dress them up with some sweet soy cream, a recipe from the Plum Bistro Cookbook, but you could also use coconut whipped cream, or even ice cream.The recipe makes 12 large brownies, a good size to be server as a dessert, or to throw into a lunch box for an afternoon snack. However, if you’re making these to share, you can easily cut them smaller and get 16-20 per pan. The recipe calls for coconut oil, which gives these brownies a firmer texture, especially once chilled. For softer fudge like brownies, swap the coconut oil for equal parts canola oil.


Caramel Swirl Pecan Brownies

Makes 12
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water, room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
For the Caramel:
  • 10-12 medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter
  • Pinch of salt

For the caramel, submerge the dates in hot water and allow to soften for 20 minutes. Drain the dates reserving the soaking water and transfer to a blender. Add the nut butter and a pinch of salt, blend on high until smooth adding the soaking water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture has reached the desired consistency.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the water, oil, vanilla extract , and sugar. Whisk until smooth.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until smooth and a few traces of the flour mixture remain. Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans.

Add the brownie batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly, pushing the batter into the corners of the pan.

Spoon the caramel onto the brownie batter starting with the corners and finishing in the center. Using a knife swirl the caramel into the brownie batter. Scatter with additional pecans if desired.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Allow the pan to cool completely before transferring to the fridge to chill. Once chilled cut the brownies into 12 squares, serve chilled or at room temperate. Cut brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.