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Rocky Road Brownies
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, skin-on almonds
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, graded “large”, preferably at room temperature
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour, fluffed with a fork before measuring
3 cups soft, fresh, miniature marshmallows
4-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
Few grains of salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Adjust rack to center of oven. With aluminum foil, line a shallow baking pan large enough to hold the chopped almonds in a single layer. Place the almonds into the foil-lined pan and set aside. Using heavyweight aluminum foil (or two lengths of regular weight foil), line a 7 by 11 inch baking pan (the pan MUST be at least 1-3/4 inches tall) so that the foil is shiny side up. Press out as many creases on the inside of the pan as possible, and fold the overhang back against the outer edges of the pan. Measure the marshmallows (I use a 4 cup liquid measure for that), then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until needed (covering them prevents them from drying out).
Make the brownies: In a two quart, nonaluminum, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine butter slices and both chocolates. With small whisk or slotted spoon, stir over very low heat until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until melted and smooth. Allow to stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes, or until bottom of pan is only slightly warm. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
When pan bottom is only slightly warm, add to melted chocolate mixture the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir in well. Beat eggs with a fork until blended. Add half of egg mixture at a time, beating in after each addition to incorporate. Scrape down bottom and sides of pan with rubber spatula. Stir in flour just until incorporated. Turn batter into foil-lined 7 by 11 inch pan and spread level; it will be a thin layer.
Bake in preheated oven 14 to 17 minutes, turning back-to-front once about halfway during baking time. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick diagonally near the center of the brownies; if it emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it, brownies are done. Do not overbake. Remove to cooling rack, but leave oven on.
Immediately scatter miniature marshmallows all over the top of the brownie layer. With your hand and fingers, move marshmallows as necessary so they form a single layer all over the top of the brownie layer, right to the edge of the pan. (Be careful here! The pan is still hot!) With your palm and fingers or the back of your hand and fingers, press marshmallows gently into brownie layer. You’ll see a few spaces where the brownie layer shows through, but there shouldn’t be many of them and they should be small. Allow to stand on cooling rack until cooled completely.
Meanwhile, place the shallow pan with the almonds in it into the heated oven. Toast the almonds for 9 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until they take on a light golden color (watch carefully; nuts can burn quickly). Remove from oven. Stir in pan for a few minutes to cool slightly, then allow to stand at room temperature until cooled completely. (You can toast the almonds before you make the brownies, if you prefer.)
When the marshmallow-topped brownie and almonds are cooled to room temperature, make the glaze: In a medium microwaveable bowl, combine finely chopped chocolates, salt, and butter. Microwave at 50% (medium) power for 1 minute; stir thoroughly. Microwave at 50% (medium) power for further, shorter intervals, stirring well after each, until almost melted, then stir until melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla.
In a fine stream, pour glaze all over top of marshmallows. Quickly spread glaze evenly over top (a small offset spatula is very helpful here; you can also shake the pan gently to level the top). Immediately, before glaze has a chance to set, sprinkle cooled, toasted almonds evenly all over the top of the glaze. With the back of a tablespoon, gently push the almonds into the glaze.
Allow to stand at room temperature until glaze is set. Cover tightly; allow to stand at room temperature at least 6 to 8 hours (overnight is just fine) before cutting into bars. To cut, remove block of brownies, still in foil lining, from pan; place on large cutting board. Gently peel back foil from edges (some marshmallow may stick to the foil, but that’s OK). Use a large, very sharp, straight-edged knife, cutting down with the full length of the blade, to cut the block into 24 bars.
© Stephanie Zonis, 2002