Warm Walnut Brownies

Walnuts are the straight-A, Goody-Two-Shoes morsels of the food world. You read about their heart-healthy benefits all over the place. After attending the walnut harvest in Central Valley, California, I’m inspired to tout a few of those health benefits (and not just because I have a pan of rich walnut brownies I want to feel good about gobbling up).

Standing in a sun-dappled walnut orchard in the Central Valley of California, I was transfixed by a gigantic metal claw. Lest you start imagining robotic lobsters, let me explain: This particular metal claw was attached to an industrial shaking machine that churned up and down rows of walnut trees, clasping each trunk and giving it a good shake-shake-shake. I was hypnotized by the sudden rain of walnuts falling with tiny ka-plunks upon the dusty ground.

The mechanical claw scenario was part of the walnut tour I went on in the beginning of October, which is peak harvest time for walnuts. In that walnut orchard, I learned how these heart-healthy nuts get harvested every year from California, whose harvest accounts for 99 percent of commercially packaged and sold walnuts in the U.S.

Walnuts are the straight-A, Goody-Two-Shoes morsels of the food world. You read about their heart-healthy benefits all over the place.

A serving of walnuts (about a handful) provides a ton of nutrients:

  • 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acid
  • Antioxidants
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 10% of your daily value of magnesium and phosphorus
  • Naturally sodium- and cholesterol-free

I returned home from the harvest with a sack of walnuts, and I weighed my options of which recipes to include them in. Bass with Walnuts, Apples and Sage? Walnut-Quinoa Salad? Hm...

I settled on something sweet, rich, fudgy and ridicu-licious: Fudgy Nutty Brownies. The toasted walnuts added chunky crunchiness amidst the soft, chewy chocolate brownie. Served alongside a tall glass of milk, these bars will hypnotize and transfix you. Go nuts.

Fudgy Nutty Brownies

Fans of fudgy brownies will have another favorite to add to their list with these nut-packed ones. They bake up rich and moist, with the deep, dark flavor of cocoa.

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut up
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil; spray bottom of foil with cooking spray.

2. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter in small microwave-safe bowl on medium 1 1/2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted. Whisk until melted and smooth. Pour into large bowl; cool 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk flour, cocoa and salt in small bowl.

4. Whisk sugar and brown sugar into chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs in two parts, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Gently whisk in flour mixture just until combined. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Spread into pan.

5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan using foil; cut into bars.

16 bars

PER BAR: 270 calories, 16.5 g total fat (7.5 g saturated fat), 4 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 40 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 2.5 g fiber

TIP * To toast walnuts, place on baking sheet; bake at 350°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until pale brown and fragrant. Cool.