Clearly, we do not celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK (although it’s always a good excuse to watch this). Having been in the US for the few months though, I’m feeling quite full of the spirit of the season. I’ve purchased a few sparkly turkey decorations to hang around the house and watched one of the Thanksgiving episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine at least 17 times (I’ve definitely exhausted the entertainment options on British Airways). We even had a Thanksgiving potluck in the office last week although our contributions were limited to whatever we could pick up at the local supermarket.

This year, Thanksgiving will coincide with my birthday (31!). It will be (and I appreciate that I haven’t shared this here although it’s not really a secret) my last birthday before my boyfriend and I get married next October. In the middle of our crazy work/travel schedules and sporadic but intense bursts of wedding planning, this year more than ever, I’m feeling pretty thankful for what I’ve got.


All this week, some of my favourite bloggers will be sharing recipes for our own virtual friendsgiving, organised by Renee and the good people at J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. Their sun-dried salt is produced from an ancient ocean under the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia (here’s a short video if you’re interested in learning a bit more).

I have always been fairly loyal to my preferred brand of salt but this stuff is really rather special.  These brownies, a riff on my go-to flourless brownie recipe, are my contribution. I’ve thanksgiving’d them up with the addition of pecans and a splash of bourbon. A heavy hand with the salt gives you a rich chocolate-y treat that is most definitely on the adult end of the brownie spectrum.  If you’re based in the US, you can also win a little 1 oz pot to try it yourself (see the rafflecopter thingy below). Other bloggers will be hosting giveaways all this week too – you can find all the details in this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




salted pecan and bourbon brownies {gluten free}

Yield: 16 brownies

The level of salt you want to use here depends partly on your tastes but also on the kind of salt that you're using. I like to taste as a I go along because I am not at all squeamish about raw brownie batter but I think it's always wisest to err on the side of caution if you're not sure how much salt to use. You can always sprinkle a bit more over the cooked brownies if you want but it's very hard to take salt away from something!


  • 300g (12 oz) dark chocolate (70% is ideal), roughly chopped
  • 175g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 170g (1 cup less 1 tablespoon) demerara sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 35g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 100g (1 cup) pecans, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a 23cm square tin with greased paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a bowl of barely simmering water, stirring constantly until they're all liquidy. Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl, add the sugar and beat well. Add the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla and a splash of bourbon and continue to mix until combined. Finally, gently mix in all of the dry ingredients, reserving some of the pecans to scatter on top.
  3. Pour the batter into a tin and bake for about 30 minutes until just firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.
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60 Responses to "salted pecan and bourbon brownies {gluten free}"
  1. Thanksgiving is over in Canada, but I am still loving all the Thanksgiving dishes I’m seeing on blogs. I just love these brownies – perfect for any time of year :)

  2. Laura K. says:

    Congratulations! That’s so exciting! Best of luck to you two.

  3. Tieghan says:

    Happy early Birthday! These brownies are so perfect. Good four our Thanksgiving and perfect for Christmas too! Salted pecan and bourbon in a brownie has to be the best combo ever!

  4. Erika says:

    Salted pecans and bourbon in brownies sounds outstanding! Happy Early Birthday to you my dear…

  5. alexandra says:

    Always thankful for my family + friends. And cheekily but truthfully thankful for blogs and recipes like yours that help me satisfy cravings that won’t wreak total havoc on my body once I indulge!

    (Happy early birthday and, CONGRATULATIONS! What wonderful events to look forward to.)


  6. Erika says:

    Oh my goodness Kathryn you are the queen of brownies!! These look so insanely thick and luscious. That addition of salt on these? So perfect. Love that you sort of got to experience Thanksgiving this year through your office! Happy early birthday, lovely lady!! <333

  7. Yes to everything about these brownies, Kathryn! They’re as gorgeous as they are decadent!

  8. Lindsey says:

    Wowie, Kathryn! First of all these sound absolutely delish. Second, Happy almost Birthday! And what a special year it will be leading up to such a special day in you and your boyfriend’s lives. All the best to you, miss! xo

  9. Happy early birthday Kathryn! These brownies sound amazing – I love the natural sweetness of pecan along with the crunchyness!

  10. Okay, wait. I feel like you dropped a lot of bombs on us in this one post:

    First bomb — HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    Second bomb — omg you’re getting married!!! Did I miss this somewhere? Congratulations!!!
    Third bomb — these brownies, lord. They look so amazing that I want to reach up into the screen and just eat them all.

  11. Whoa. These sound (and look!) amazing. Happy early birthday to you and super congrats for what the next year holds!

  12. Lauren K. says:

    Looks delicious! I’m thankful for the new friends I’ve made this year, since we made a big move for my husband’s job.

  13. Magda says:

    I wish you have a wonderful birthday, Kathryn, and congratulations on getting married next year!! All the best to you and your future husband.

    Oh, and these brownies look gorgeous!

  14. Nicole says:

    These brownies sound incredible!! Congratulations on all of the exciting and lovely things in your life :)

  15. Oh dang I didn’t realize you were getting married! Congrats!!!! And happy early birthday as well! These brownies look delish, and if I had a Friendsgiving you would definitely be invited, especially if you brought these. I hope you have a wonderful birthday/fake holiday over there. ;-)

  16. Kaitlin says:

    I’m thankful for Heavenly Father for blessing my life. I’m thankful for my family, my husband, food, and a roof over my head!

  17. frances hopkins says:

    Looks lovely, I’m thankful for every day x

  18. Those brownies look amazing – so rich and fudgey! Perfect way to celebrate a birthday!

  19. Ginger G says:

    … thankful for friends and family with whom I can share this delicious recipe

  20. Leslie says:

    I am thankful for my granddaughter.

  21. Amanda Paa says:

    i am so happy you get to have a little bit of thanksgiving with this friendsgiving! i’m gushing over all the posts. if only i had the time to make everything…. but these brownies must make an appearance in my kitchen this winter. and happppppy birthday! xo

  22. Sues says:

    Mmm nothing better than chocolate and salt married together… Unless there’s bourbon involved, too!!

  23. Zoe Ryan says:

    I am thankful for my family and my wonderful husband

  24. penny conklin says:

    These look amazing

  25. cynthia says:

    OMG. OMG. OMG. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh I literally gasped when I read your post! So so so excited for you, Kathryn!! Happy happy early birthday to you and happy engagement too, eeee! And oh my goodness……. you already know how I feel about your brownies, but this twist sounds absolutely divine. I was just thinking about making another batch the other day and with a surplus of chocolate chips in my fridge right now, I might just have to…. <3

  26. I am ALL ABOUT chocolate + salt… love these!

  27. So where should I start (please forgive me should I forget something)… The HAPPIEST birthday to you and CONGRATS on getting married (sending lots of looove your way)!! Oh and happy Friendsgiving! These brownies look to die for; you seriously know how to bake these chocolaty treats <3 Brownie queen!

  28. Kate says:

    Happy Birthday (and Thanksgiving!), and congratulations on the wedding, that’s wonderful! These brownies look amazing, I love pecans, with their rich, almost caramel-like flavour. I don’t really drink bourbon but I somehow know instinctively that it would really elevate these to the next level! As for what I’m thankful for – there’s been lots to be grateful for this year, but the two big ones are: 1.) finally getting to a place where I’m beginning to deal with my weird relationship with food; and 2.) starting my MA and feeling like I know what direction I want to take my academic life and career in now – I was so worried by quitting my job and moving back home I’d made a massive mistake, but I’m loving learning again!

  29. stephanie says:

    happiest of birthdays to you kathryn! and happy engagement too! so excited for you and your love! marriage is a wonderful thing and i imagine it will be ever so sweet for you and your man, especially if there are lots of these brownies in the mix :)


  30. What a perfect combo! Enjoy your faux Thanksgiving and happy birthday! xo

  31. You have SO many wonderful things to be thankful for/look forward to, what an exciting year 2015 is going to be! I, on the other hand, am thankful for this recipe because it looks AMAZING. Chocolate + pecan + bourbon = YES.

  32. I love the natural light of your kitchen! I’ve also never seen Brooklyn Nine-Nine – worth a watch?

  33. jaime says:

    happy birthday, kathryn. thanksgiving tomorrow coincides with a fun day for me too — my 10,000th day alive! i’m so excited. i’ll dedicate one of my celebratory pints to you and your birthday tomorrow. cheers!

    ohhh and these brownies! perfectly festive without being overkill on the pumpkin and spice. love that. i like the way you do. and this might be strange, but: i always feel so calm reading over your recipes. i don’t know why. maybe because the ingredient list is always refreshingly simple and approachable. it’s the loveliest. your blog is a treat! thanks for sharing.

  34. Girl! Congratulations! I’ve obviously partial, but October weddings are my fave. Whoo hoo!

  35. Alanna says:

    These look like the be all and / end all of brownies! Bourbon and almonds and chocolate and cocoa and coffee and sea salt… the mind boggles. I just got my salt delivery and I’m super impressed – that is some good stuff. Many congratulations on your impending nuptials and wishing you a very happy 31st birthday!

  36. liz` says:

    Kathryn! Hope you’re doing good. I just wanted to drop in and say that I finally bought a copy of Heston at Home! :) I have been wanting to, since you posted on his Chocolate Chip Cookies aeons ago. You touch lives in more ways than you know! :)

  37. karen says:

    I’m thankful for my family’s good health.

  38. Happy First Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday!!! Congrats on your engagement, too. I love this kind of brownie recipe and the addition of bourbon and pecans seem like a delicious addition!

  39. Kelsi says:

    Thanksgiving was over a month ago here in Canada, but I am thankful for you and all of the other bloggers who have kept the spirit alive over the last month. Perfect to lead up to Christmas season!!
    (These brownies look absolutely insane, I love the “heavy hand” when using salt in baking!)

  40. Tess says:

    I’m thankful for my family of 11!

  41. Molly says:

    I’m thankful for my family.

  42. Sophia says:

    I don’t even know where to begin so I’ll do this and what seems to be the order of importance:
    – congratulations on your engagement and all the very best for the upcoming nuptials – it looks like 2015 will be an amazing year for you!
    – happy birthday (again) and
    – those brownies look outstanding – love the sound of pairing bourbon with your brownies!

  43. These looks so incredible. You make gluten free look so good!
    And congratulations on getting married! I got married last year, and it is a very special time. All the best on your birthday, too :)

  44. Renée Kemps says:

    We’re also not celebrating it here in Holland, but reasons enough to do it ourselves and bake delicious things like this! Looks incredible!

  45. I might’ve just drooled… I adore salted desserts. And now, you’ve put chocolate together with salt and booze! Brilliant! Thanks for the intro to J.D Dickinson Salt-Works- I love a good, well sourced product (and, I just searched like an idiot looking for that rafflecopter thingy and realized the giveaway is over-ha!). Beautiful recipe and most of all, Happy Birthday! :)

  46. Joyti says:

    Happy, happy birthday!!!!

    We’re almost the same age (February b-day)!!!

    AND while I’m sorry I missed the giveaway, I’m glad I saw the recipe. A few other bloggers tell me your brownies are the bestest. And bourbon? OMG.

  47. Valerie says:

    Happy Belated Birthday!!
    When we first moved to the states, my French father didn’t quite grasp the concept of Thanksgiving. After a few years he grew to appreciate the mindless feasting & ensuing exhaustion. :D

    These brownies look amazing!! If only I could grab one through the screen…

  48. Jess says:

    A huge happy birthday to you!! These sounds so delicious! I’ve been looking for a good gluten free brownie recipe, I need to give this a go!

  49. Joanne says:

    Happy birthday chica! And congrats!! I had no idea you were getting married!! Wedding planning while doing all that traveling must be tough. You deserve an extra batch of these luscious brownies!

  50. Gosh those look good, great combination of flavours and added bourbon too, fabulous!

  51. Kate says:

    Happy belated birthday, Kathryn! These brownies sound so incredible, wish I could enjoy one right this minute!

  52. Erin says:

    Happy belated birthday and congrats on the wedding! I saw that the other day and thought “Oh, gosh, I’m so behind!” so I’m glad I hadn’t actually missed an announcement or anything. :)

  53. Hey Kathryn! These pictures are really tempting! I’m thinking it’s time I made some brownies (inspired by your recipes again!). Btw, I don’t know why I missed out the fact that you’re getting married, but CONGRATS friend!

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