It was my birthday a couple of days ago.

While I tend to make a huge fuss when it comes to other peoples birthdays, I’ve always liked to keep things pretty low key when it comes to my own birthday. 

Except for the birthday cake, or in this case, birthday brownies.

When it comes to the celebration centre piece, drama is key.

And because I make my own birthday “cake”, I get to call the shots.

Not that I’m a control freak or anything.

Caramelised Pecan Brownies

Makes 12

For the Caramelised Pecans:

80g caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecans

For the Brownies:

115g unsalted butter, chopped

70g dark chocolate, chopped

2 heaped teaspoons instant coffee granules

1 tablespoons coffee liqueur

2 eggs

1½ tablespoons creme fraiche

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

170g caster sugar

80g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch fine sea salt

Caramelised pecans 

Make the Caramelised Pecans:

Put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over medium-high heat. Stir as the sugar dissolves and, after about 5 minutes, starts to turn into caramel.  Keep stirring until the caramel becomes a deep mahogany and coats all of the nuts. Remove from the heat and drop the nuts one by one into a baking sheet lined with baking paper. They will harden on cooling.

Make the Brownies:

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a 20cm x 20cm cake pan with butter and line it with baking paper, making sure there is enough paper to come up and over two sides of the pan. This will make removing the brownies from the pan easier.

Put the butter, chocolate, coffee granules and liqueur into a heatproof bowl and suspend the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.   Don’t let the bowl touch the water.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk briefly to break them up.  Add the creme fraiche, vanilla and sugar, whisk to thoroughly to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, mixing with a spatula.   Don’t use a whisk, as you don’t want to incorporate any extra air into the batter.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir with the spatula until fully incorporated. Add all of the caramelised pecans and mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top is slightly crisp and the edges are slightly set, but the middle is still moist.

Remove from the oven, and leave to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, remove from the pan using the edges of the baking paper to lift it out, and slice.

adapted from here