I got to make a double recipe of these brownies because Julia and Claire had invited a whole posse of friends over to their grandparents' house for a barbecue. Our giant grill lives at that house, and the grandparents were away, and the sun was shining, so we took the opportunity to eat burgers and brownies in the sun. Our family motto: "Give us the flimsiest of excuses, and we will have a food-centered event." I need to work on that one.
There weren't many left after the party because they were good. I adapted the recipe a bit to my own preferences in that I used a one-bowl brownie method (melt together butter and chocolate, add remaining ingredients) rather than the cream-the-butter method that Maida suggested and that tends to result in a cakier brownie. I should probably do a side-by-side comparison someday to see what the real difference is. I used really good chocolate on top from my 2-lb. bag of Valhrona chocolate pieces (which already starred in the marbleized chiffon pie). Since it stands alone, I recommend that you use a chocolate that you enjoy by itself for the "icing" here.
Verdict: I think I enjoyed the Hershey's brownies and the Barron's brownies a bit more, but is a very good straight-ahead brownie that is perfect for a sunny Sunday with a lot of teenaged girls.
Here's the recipe. Go have a party.
Brownies with Milk Chocolate Icing
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
3 T. (0.6 oz) cocoa powder
1 t. vanilla
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 c. (2 oz.) sifted flour
1/2 c. (2 oz.) coarsely chopped walnuts
Heat the oven to 325. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease or butter the foil.
Maida's brownie method: Melt the chocolate either in a small saucepan or in a little Pyrex cup in the microwave. In an electric mixer, cream the butter with the cocoa powder until soft. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat to mix. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the melted chocolate. On low speed add the flour and beat just enough to mix. Stir in the walnuts.
My brownie method: In a large microwave-safe bowl put the chocolate, butter, and cocoa powder. Microwave 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until everything is mostly melted; stir until it's entirely melted. Stir in the vanilla, then the sugar, then the eggs (one at a time), then the flour, and finally the walnuts.
Either way, pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (you may want to start checking after about 25 minutes or so). While the brownies are baking, get the topping ready:
About 5-6 oz. milk chocolate bars or chips
1/2 c. (2 0z.) finely chopped walnuts
As soon as the brownies are done, cover them with the chocolate and return them to the oven (which you may have turned off) for about 30 seconds--no more. Remove from the oven and use a rubber scraper or offset spatula to smooth out the now-melted chocolate. Sprinkle the chocolate with walnuts and press them down a bit so that they don't fall off. Cool the brownies in the pan and then chill them in the freezer so that the chocolate sets well. Remove from the pan, peel off the foil, and cut into squares--Maida says 16. Enjoy.