October 12, 2010

Whopper Brownies

Filed under: Desserts — by Carla


Last week I made the Chocolate Malt Cake from Momofuku Milk Bar for my mother-in-law’s birthday. While it might have been a little more sophisticated than the usual birthday cake, it was worth the effort.  You should have seen the delight on her face when we fired the topping of mini marshmallows and lit the candles with my husband’s propane torch. No matter how old you are, fire and chocolate  are always exciting.

The cake was fabulous and fun, pleasing adults and kids alike.  I liked it so much that I got to thinking about developing an easier to make brownie clone of the cake incorporating the crunchy malted crumbs, malty fudge sauce and of course the toasted marshmallows on top of a fudgy brownie base. Let’s just say I was successful in creating what might best be described as chocolate turpitude on a plate.

Because you’re bad…very bad to eat these brownies. In the 90’s they’d have the words “death by” written in front of them. Personally,  I find turpitude preferable to death. It offers so many more options. But, I digress.

Unlike the cake whose towering three layers were impossible to cut into anything but Fred Flintstone sized slices, these brownies are easily cut into two-bite-sized bricks of deliciousness. I especially like the shy hint of salt, compliments of the un-dissolved flakes of kosher salt in the batter. The brownie base is buttery, fudgy and chewy. Not the least bit cakey. In other words, it’s perfect. The malted fudge sauce gets its flavor from one of my favorite childhood treats… Ovaltine. Christina Tosi, the pastry chef who originated the cake recipe, gets points for creativity here. The sauce is delicious, firms up just right and takes but a minute to make. But that is just the beginning of her malty genius. She used Ovaltine in the crunchy malted “milk crumbs” as well. I think this component is one of the most important to the success of the cake and though a bit weird, this baked mixture of dried milk, flour, sugar, butter, Ovaltine and white chocolate really made the cake sing.  I understand why she developed those little malted crumbs.  But really. Can’t we just use the more easily procured Whoppers, crushed, to top our version? I think so.

Intrigued yet? We’re just getting to the pyro part if the recipe. If you don’t have a propane torch, just set the marshmallow topped brownies under the broiler for a minute to toast them up, but the torch is infinitely more fun because you get to hold the fire.

And who doesn’t love to play with fire? Remember the fun of toasting marshmallows on a stick when you were a kid? I liked to make mine really brown, just a moment before they ignited into flames. And the bonfire itself with its hot licking flames and how you smelled the smoke when you sniffed your clothes and hair the next day. And what kid didn’t love Whoppers? Those irresistible chocolate covered malted milk balls that you might have chomped on while watching a movie like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly back in the summer of 1966?


But, I digress yet again. I guess these fudgy brownies with their Whoppers, Ovaltine fudge sauce and toasted marshmallows take me back to a simpler, less complicated time. I can’t guarantee that they’ll make you feel like kids again, but why not give them a try? It might help you to remember toasting marshmallows in the backyard and chowing down on a whole carton of Whoppers or eating a ridiculous (in a good way) brownie and how it tasted so good that you ate another.

 Chocolate turpitude be damned. Pass me the brownies.


Kitchen Counter Point:  A propane torch is a handy thing to have around the house. I love using it to brown the sugar on top of crème brulée, to char peppers, to brown meringue (as in lemon meringue pie) and even sometimes to caramelize or brown high sugar fruits such as pineapple or berries when topped with a sabayon. It really puts the heat right where you want it. Not like the broiler which has a tendency to over heat the dessert that lies below the surface.  Ace Hardware sells a great little gadget that screws to the top of the tank. All you have to do is turn it on, push a button and the fire is ignited. Beware the wimpy “kitchen torches” sold in cookware shops. They don’t have the mojo to get the job done. 

Makes about 16 good sized brownies
Brownie base
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Malt Fudge Sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Ovaltine
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup crushed Whoppers
3 or 4 handfuls of mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grease a 9x 9-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper leaving excess paper on two sides of the pan so that later, the brownies can be easily lifted out. Grease the parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs, one at a time and beat until blended. Beat in the buttermilk, corn syrup and vanilla. Reduce the speed and add the dry ingredients in three additions, stopping to scrape down the sides. Beat the batter another minute on medium-high to thoroughly combine. It will be thick.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The center should still be a bit jiggly. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. It’s normal for the center to sink a bit on cooling.

To make the fudge sauce, combine the Ovaltine, chocolate and kosher salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine the cream, corn syrup and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Dump the Ovaltine mixture into the pan and let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. (Make the sauce right before assembling or it will firm up and you’ll have to reheat it to a pourable consistency.)

Crush the Whoppers in a heavy duty plastic bag with a mallet or a hammer. Leave some crunchy chunks for texture.

To assemble the brownies, spread a thin drizzle of fudge sauce over the top of the brownies and sprinkle over the crumbled Whoppers. Drizzle over another layer of fudge sauce. If the sauce is too thick, rewarm gently over low heat. Scatter the marshmallows evenly over the top pushing them down into the sauce so that they adhere. Quickly char the marshmallows with the propane torch that’s probably in your garage. If your significant other isn’t the handy type, preheat the broiler and brown the marshmallows in the oven for about 1 minute. Cool the marshmallows. Lift the brownies from the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut the brownies into bars, wiping the knife clean between cuts and serve. The brownies keep tightly sealed for 5 days but they will be gone in 2 or 3.


  1. This looks so fantastic! I’m going to try whipping it up this weekend. Now, to find a torch….

    Comment by Kirsten Deeds — March 1, 2011 @ 8:18 am

  2. They were really good, Kirsten. I hope you like them as much as we do!

    Comment by Carla — March 8, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

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