I’m a curious researcher, always wanting to know the origin of something, or why it works. So I love Alton Brown’s unique explanations for his recipes. While any brownie recipe would work to top with halva, I was intrigued with his two-bake method and loved the results! It only uses cocoa powder, rather than melting and cooling chocolate, and the baking instructions are very precise. The result is a deliciously fudgy, gooey-in-the-middle and not overly sweet brownie. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, don’t rely on the toothpick method to test for doneness. I found 30 minutes to be the perfect time for the second bake. The halva adds a subtle layer of flavour to these rich chocolatey squares.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup halva, broken into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick oil spray. Trim a piece of parchment paper so that it fits just inside the baking pan with a 2-inch overhang on two sides and place it inside the pan. This is a sling to allow for easy removal.
Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt into a medium bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar and stir together well. If there are some lumps in the brown sugar, use a whisk or your fingers to break them up.
Beat the eggs on medium speed with a stand or handheld mixer until fluffy and light yellow, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly introduce the sugar mixture, followed by the butter and vanilla. Mix just until smooth and spread into the prepared pan. The batter will be thick.
Crumble the halva and sprinkle generously on top of the brownie batter prior to baking. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Then return the pan to the oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the brownie reads 195°F, approximately 30 minutes.
Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer the brownie to a cooling rack for 10 minutes before cutting into 16 pieces using a pizza wheel or long slicing knife.