A Berry Good Bar: Raspberry Halva Brownies

Nicole Rucker's cookbook Dappled has a wonderful full-page photo of a whole pan of her raspberry halva brownies, taken from directly overhead (it's the same photo you can see here). What I liked most about it were the big chunks of halva clearly visible on top. I really like halva in baked goods, especially when it remains intact and retains its sesame flavor and distinctive flaky texture. And I happened to have a hunk of Seed and Mill marble halva in the fridge that was just the right amount to make the recipe.

To make the brownie batter, you whisk eggs with sugar and brown sugar until light; add melted butter and unsweetened chocolate; and incorporate sifted flour, natural cocoa powder, and kosher salt. Then you pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan; scatter fresh raspberries and pieces of halva on top; and bake.
The cookbook says you should bake the brownies for about 30 minutes. But when I tested the brownies at that time, a toothpick came out covered in raw batter. I ended up baking them for 45 minutes, until a toothpick came out covered in moist crumbs. I cooled the brownies and chilled them before slicing. They cut cleanly and were still very fudgy in the middle. The edges were more well done, but I'm one of those folks who universally prefers the edges and corners of brownies because of their firmer texture. Overall, I thought the brownie texture was perfect -- fudgy, but not too fudgy. I'm glad I gave them some extra time in the oven.

These brownies were freakin' delicious. I really liked the generous amount of halva (170 grams in a an 8-inch by 12-inch pan), but I thought the most memorable part of the brownies was the raspberries. The bright pops of flavor from the berries were intense and so perfect with the rich chocolate. The halva was all intact since it was just sprinkled on top instead of folded into the batter, and it added great flavor and texture. The brownies held up well even after several days in the fridge and the fruit didn't cause them to become soggy. If I didn't have halva on hand, I would make these brownies again with just raspberries and I'm pretty sure they would still be awesome.
Recipe: "Raspberry Halva Brownies" from Dappled by Nicole Rucker, recipe available here.