I feel crazy to say that I think orange brownies are my new favorite! The brownies are gooey on the inside and have that signature crackly top - but in addition, I used Terry's Chocolate Orange and a secret almond crunch trick to make it utterly irresistible!
Brownies are any occasion's best friend, there are always the classic homemade brownies, but you can spruce them up with Guinness and coffee for grown-up brownies, or pretty chocolate crinkle cookies.
Or - you can melt a ball of Terry's Chocolate Orange, add some extra fresh orange zest and you've got yourself a delicious any-occasion brownie.
Why you’ll love this recipe
You will love this orange brownies recipe because it has
- fudgy, chocolatey interior
- crackly brownie top
- even cracklier brownie top with a secret trick - the almond crunch as a topping
- it is SO easy
- the forever-winning combination of oranges and chocolate (say hello to this beautiful chocolate orange cake too)
- if you don't like nuts in brownies, but love crumb toppings - this is your friend
Yes, I don't like nuts in brownies either, but almond crunch (Norwegian: krokan), is a very different story!
You think you may not like almond crunch in gooey brownies.
But by keeping it all on top, it gets more like a crumb topping on muffins rather than nuts in a cake if you catch my drift. Oh, and almond crunch is stellar mixed with milk chocolate. Keep reading if you're still not won over.
And to make them you will need mostly pantry staples (well, all pantry staples if you include the chocolate - which you should!)
- Butter - the right fat-to-flour ratio will get you the fudginess we all (should) look for in brownies.
- Terry's orange chocolate - you can use the milk or dark version, but I prefer the milk version. This is an easy way to get a more pungent orange flavor to the brownies.
- Semisweet dark chocolate - for extra chocolatey flavor. Brownies are definitely best by using high-quality chocolate. I never use chocolate chips!
- Unsweetened cocoa powder - is used to add even more chocolate flavor without sweetening the brownies too much.
- Orange zest - the zest has some natural oils in it, making for a more concentrated orange flavor than if you were to use the juice. Brownies need to have very little liquid, so this is just a win-win for these orange brownies.
- Vanilla extract - this is completely optional and doesn't add much other than a slight hint of warmth to the brownies. Who doesn't love vanilla in chocolate cakes?
- Eggs - the only leavening agent in brownies. Beaten eggs are a leavening agent as they incorporate air into the batter, which then will expand in the oven and cause the cake to rise.
- Sugar - The sugar in the brownies makes them light and tender as it helps delay the formation of gluten. If you remove it all, the brownies will be flat and leathery.
- All-purpose flour - we don't use much flour, as we want fudgy brownies. However, we still need some to make everything hold together!
- Salt - to enhance the flavors, should never be omitted!
- Almond crunch - simply almonds, sugar, and butter to create a nutty, hard caramel. It isn't like adding nuts to brownies. I also just keep it on top for extra texture. So delicious!
First, prepare the almond crunch (krokan), it is super simple with three ingredients, 10 minutes + 30 minutes chill time.
Prepare a baking pan of 8×12 inches (20×30 cm) with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃).
Melt butter, remove it from the heat, and let it cool slightly before adding in the chocolate, vanilla, orange zest, and orange extract. Stir and let the chocolate melt (1-2).
Whip eggs and sugar with a metal whisk until they’ve got air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Mix the chocolate butter into the egg mixture (3-4).
Sift flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt into this mixture (5). Fold together (6). Be careful not to ruin the air bubbles, but make sure all the flour is incorporated.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan (7). Sprinkle generously with the almond crunch on top (8).
Bake on the middle rack for around 35-40 minutes. In my oven, 38 was good. But I suggest checking after 30 minutes.
You can try to wiggle the pan and see if the middle of the cake is very shaky.
Cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack, or it will be just one gooey mess. Serve with salted caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, and extra almond crunch!
Brownies are best served *almost* right away. Brownies will last 3 to 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature and up to a week in the refrigerator. They can also last for about 3-4 months in the freezer.
However, there's something about warm brownies and cold ice cream that is so MAGIC.
To reheat a slice of brownies, place it in a heat-safe container and heat up in the oven. 250℉ (120℃) for 10 minutes is usually enough. If you really like the crispy, crackly top, switch to grill mode for a minute or two at the end.
There are many questions out there regarding brownies. I'll try to answer the most frequently asked questions below:
What makes brownies fudgier?
The fat-to-flour ratio. A fudgy brownie has more fat to flour than cakey brownies. Trust the ratios in this recipe and you're guaranteed fudgy brownies.
What makes the crackly top?
When the batter is put into the oven, the air bubbles expand in the heat. When they come out of the oven, those air bubbles collapse after they are shocked by cold air and cause cracks.
The more air bubbles you have in your batter, the more cracks will form when those air bubbles collapse. That is why we whip our eggs. So be careful to not ruin the air bubbles when you incorporate the flour!
What is the secret to moist brownies?
The eggs and butter are the moist-makers of this recipe. For boxed brownies, switching the water to milk is also a good idea. But generally, there shouldn't be much liquid in brownies.
Why are my brownies gummy?
A possible reason for this may be that you chose a glass pan and the brownies aren't properly baked. A light-colored metal pan (well, mine is blue and I have never had this issue!) is best.
How do I know when the brownies are done?
It can be tricky to know when brownies are done. A toothpick inserted in the center is usually a good way, but for brownies, it's a little harder. There should be quite a few moist crumbs on it.
You can also take the pan out and wiggle it and see if it jiggles in the center. It shouldn't jiggle much. Keep baking until it barely jiggles!
How long to let brownies rest before cutting?
At least 30 minutes, or else it will be a gooey mess. If that's alright, go ahead and cut it right away! All the way to room temperature is fine as well.
What is krokan?
Krokan is caramelized sugar with almonds and butter, turning into crunchy, hard caramel with a nutty taste.
The word 'krokan' derives from the French word 'croquant' which means crunchy or crisp. So I'm translating it to almond crunch!
You can use whatever nuts you want/like/are not allergic to without any other alterations. My best ideas include hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, and pecan nuts. However, if you're allergic to all nuts, you can try pepitas (however, I have not tried this myself).
You don't have to stop at orange. I think orange and chocolate are the best combination, but you can use any other citrus without many alterations. Instead of Terry's Orange Chocolate, just use regular semisweet chocolate.
Then add the zest: I'd try grapefruit, clementine, or blood orange zest, but also lemon (+ some ginger!). I would add an extra 1 teaspoon of the citrus extract to really get the flavor popping.
Other pan sizes
This brownie recipe can be cut to ⅓ and fit perfectly in a round 6-inch pan. Bake it for at least 25 minutes. 25-30 minutes. This is a good size for 2.
An 8x8 square pan works for the full batter, but the brownies turn out a little thicker than to my taste. Bake them for a bit longer, about 40 minutes.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more chocolate cakes I think you’d love:
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