The origin of “rocky road” the flavor is surprisingly contentious. Most commonly cited is that William Breyer (yes, of Breyer ice cream) with his partner Edy (yes, Edy ice cream) wanted to create a flavor of ice cream during the Great Depression to help lift people’s spirits. Breyer thought up the combination of chocolate, nuts, and marshmallow and called it “rocky road” in order to help people with the rocky road of the Great Depression.
Regardless of whether or not that is the actual origin, rocky road is definitively a combination of some type of nuts (usually walnuts, almonds, or peanuts), chocolate, and marshmallow.
When thinking of the first recipe for my blog, I wanted something that was true to my favorite flavors but was also easy, quick, and, of course, DELICIOUS. Chocolate is my favorite food and flavor of all time so that seemed like a given for my first showing and a true ode to my love of chocolate. Rather than just present a plain ole chocolate brownie, though, I wanted something with a little flair thus sparking the idea for rocky road brownies.
I tested out these brownies several times for peak combination of fudginess, nut crunch, and marshmallow perfection. I prefer a more dense brownie to a more cake-y texture but there needs to be enough flour for the brownies to actually stick together! After trying out different flour amounts, I found that 115g led to the perfect balance between fudginess and brownie cohesion.
Next came the nuts. In my searchings on the origins of rocky road, it seems like Breyer originally used walnuts in his rocky road ice cream. Unfortunately, I am flat out allergic to walnuts. I settled on almonds because I enjoy the flavor combination of almonds and chocolate and thought the texture of the almonds would balance well with the marshmallows. I use slivered almonds in my recipe, but sliced almonds work as well. If you prefer, you can substitute for whatever nuts you prefer. Regardless, I DO insist that you toast your nuts (whether on the stovetop as I do or in the oven if more convenient for you) as toasting your nuts will deepen and enhance their flavor.
Last and most difficult was the marshmallow situation. My first attempt, I foolishly mixed my mini marshmallows into my brownie batter. When the brownies were done, the marshmallows were no where to be found as they had melted away in the oven due to their relatively low melting point. I hemmed and hawed on how to maintain the structure of my marshmallows without making the brownie process overly complicated. I knew if I made my own marshmallows, I could alter the melting point based on my ingredients. But, I felt it was unfair to add an additional day of complicated marshmallow creation to what should be a simple recipe. I then realized that my marshmallows would have to go on top.
Here is where I thought back to the original rocky road ice cream. In the ice cream, the marshmallows are intact and have that soft chew to them. Melted marshmallows are great but I wanted to allude back to that chew that you would get from rocky road ice cream. Thus came the idea to ever so slightly melt the marshmallows on top of the brownies so that there would be a combination of melted marshmallows adding decadence but more intact marshmallows adding chew. I achieved this combination by pouring a very generous layer of mini marshmallows (half the bag – 5oz!) on top of my almost done brownies and then continuing to bake the brownies for exactly 2 minutes. And I mean exactly 2 minutes!
Now on to the recipe!
Rocky Road Brownies
- 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 200g (2 bars) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 115g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 10g (1 1/2 tbsp) cocoa powder
- 4g (1/2 tsp) salt
- 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 45g (1/4 cup +1/8 cup) slivered or sliced almonds, toasted*
- Generous amount (around 5 ounces) Kraft Jet-Puffed mini marshmallows
2. Place butter and chocolate broken into pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds. Place to the side to let cool slightly.
3. Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil so that it completely covers the bottom and sides of the pan.
4. In a small to medium size bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
5. Pour melted chocolate and butter into a large bowl. Add sugar to the bowl and whisk together.
6. Add eggs to chocolate mixture, whisking in one at a time.
7. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder to chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
8. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients all at once. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined.
9. Pour toasted almonds into brownie batter and fold to combine.
10. Pour brownie batter into baking pan lined with aluminum foil and spread mixture in pan evenly.
11. Bake brownies on center rack in oven for 30-33 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of brownies comes out with some crumbs on it.
12. Take brownies out of the oven and pour a very generous amount of mini marshmallows evenly on top of brownies. Place back in the oven for 2 minutes exactly.
13. Take brownies out of oven and allow to cool completely on wire rack before cutting.
*To toast almonds, place in small saucepan / frying pan on top of stove over low heat. Stir often. Almonds should be done after 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: 16 servings
For how to cut these brownies easily, click here!