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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Dare to Be Different

There is often virtue in having the courage to be different. History is usually shaped by those people who did not follow just what the crowd did. And of course we, as Catholics, know the greatest of saints earned their holiness by standing very much alone at times or by steadfastly defending their faith despite persecution. In large ways and in small, it can be daunting to go against societal norms.

Allow me to step away for a moment from our treasured saints and great historical figures and let’s talk about going against the crowd with desserts. Desserts? Well, yes – Thanksgiving desserts.

For Americans, Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved of holiday traditions. And why shouldn’t it be? It revolves around food. Excellent food. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes and other delicious recipes are consumed each November until there is simply no more room. There is a traditional inventory and sequence to America’s Thanksgiving menu, and deviating from that list can cause disappointment and even elicit sneers from people.

But there is one thing I’ve always found wanting at Thanksgiving: Chocolate. Why can’t there be any chocolate desserts?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good apple, pumpkin or pecan pie as much as the next person. But how nice it would be to break away from the norm and include the deliciousness of a chocolatey sweet ending to the Thanksgiving repertoire! So I announced I would try it, and bake a rendition of chocolate brownies. Needless to say, my family was skeptical. But I told them it would have a “Thanksgiving-ish” twist because it would incorporate elements of pecan pie and still solicit that flavor we associate with late autumn.

The rest is history, and they can’t wait to enjoy them again on Thanksgiving! Looking to mix things up this fall? Give Pecan Pie Chocolate Brownies a try for Thanksgiving dinner … How can you possibly be disappointed?

Michelle DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

Pecan Pie Chocolate Brownies

  • 2 boxes chocolate brownie mix
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 cups pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9 x 13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare brownies according to box instructions. Pour into pan and place in oven. Set timer for 35 minutes.

While brownies are baking, prepare the pecan topping: whisk the eggs, salt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter until combined. Gently mix in the pecan pieces.

At 35 minutes, check the brownies with a fork. If they are mostly done and just slightly under-baked in the center, it’s time to add the pecan topping (they may need a few more minutes, depending on the brownie mix). Carefully pour and spread topping evenly over the brownie layer. Bake for an additional 25-35 minutes or until set. Let cool completely for at least 2 hours or chill in fridge before cutting and serving. Top off with vanilla ice cream and/or drizzled caramel.