Let’s talk Halloween movies. What comes to mind? There is the obvious choice, Halloween. Or, a family friendly option like It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Maybe some of those haunting 80s franchises by Wes Craven or John Carpenter. Or, all Steven King movies ever made? Just don’t say Gremlins because that is a Christmas movie, not a Halloween film. This is not up for discussion…
While I enjoy the freakish thrill of The Shining or the whacky one-liners of everyone’s favorite Bio-Exoricist, Beetlejuice, my ultimate Halloween movie has got to be ET. Think about it. The movie takes place during the spooky season in the 80s leading up to Halloween and peaks on All Hallows Eve. ET is an alien, left behind on a strange planet, who befriends a curious kid over mutual love of Reese’s Pieces. That is Halloween to the max.
I recently watched ET for the first time in years, and the nostalgia hit me like a bolt of lighting. ET is truly iconic, ageless, creepy, charmingly relatable and gut wrenchingly sad. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I felt a tear well up in my eyes when Elliott said, “You must be dead, because I don’t know how to feel. I can’t feel anything anymore.” even though I knew the ending. We all grew up with ET, but not until now, as adults, can we look back and truly appreciate the emotional layers and deep lessons in friendship that came out of this classic favorite. Best Halloween movie of all time, hands down.
When I watched ET, I immediately started craving Reese’s Pieces, wishing I had a bagful to lure in a lovable extra terrestrial to be my new BFF. I found myself heading to CVS to buy overpriced bags of the vintage-hued peanut butter candies in hard chocolate shells. Instead of eating them by the handful, this year I made ooey-gooey Reese’s Pieces Brownies with chocolate espresso ganache and Reese’s Pieces patterns that line each brownie square like crop circles.
This Halloween I suggest you warm your nostalgic heartlight and bake up a batch of my Reese’s Pieces Brownies while you cozy up in a warm red hoodie and watch ET on a crisp, foggy, Autumn night. Halloween just isn’t complete without ET and, as of this year, Reese’s Pieces Brownies.
- all purpose flour - 1 1/14 cup
- dark unsweetened cocoa powder - 2 tablespoons
- fine sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- dark chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocao) - 11 ounces
- unsalted butter chopped into 1" cubes - 1 cup (2 sticks)
- instant espresso powder - 1 tablespoon
- granulated sugar - 1 cup
- dark brown sugar - 1/2 cup, lightly packed
- large eggs at room temperature - 5
- pure vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- dark chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocao) - 9 ounces
- heavy cream - 3/4 cup
- instant espresso powder - 2 tablespoons
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and prep a 9" x 13" pan by coating the bottom and sides with butter.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- Coarsely chop the chocolate and add it, the butter and instant espresso powder to a large heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat and whisk in the sugars, whisking until they've completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Followed by the remaining 2 eggs, whisk until combined.
- Add the vanilla, stirring to combine without overbeating.
- Add the flour mixture and gently fold in using a spatula, until mixture is just combined and there are still some visible flour bits.
- Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The brownies are ready when you insert a toothpick into the center and a few moist crumbs still stick to it. For those fudgey, cakey brownies you don’t want to overbake.
- While the brownies cool in the pan, prepare the ganache. Coarsely chop the chocolate and add, along with the instant espresso powder to a medium mixing bowl.
- Put the cream in a small saucepan and warm over medium-high heat until a skin starts to form.
- Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 8-10 minutes.
- Stir together until smooth and glossy. If any chunks remain, place the bowl over simmering water briefly and stir until smooth.
- Once the brownies have cooled, gently turn the entire sheet of brownies out onto a flat surface and cut them into a 4x6 grid of squares about 2” each.
- Spoon 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons of the ganache over the top of each brownie square and smooth with the back of the spoon. The ganache should slowly drip down the sides, giving it that half dipped look.
- Carefully top the ganache with a 4x4 grid of Reese’s Pieces, alternating colors.
- These Reese's Pieces Brownies taste best when you're wearing a red hoodie and watching ET on a crisp, foggy night.