When the word came that Nemo was heading our direction blowing 65 m.p.h. winds and bringing at least 2 feet of snow, my friends Nathan and Emily, who live a few blocks away, extended the invitation for homemade chicken pot pie. I was in charge of bringing brownies.
I knew immediately that I wanted to bring The Pastry Chef’s Baking Frosted Brownies. These are so decadent and delicious I definitely did not want to be left in the house alone with a pan. Bringing them to a blizzard dinner party was the perfect solution!
My friend Rebecca, who lives next door, and I trudged through the snow together, wearing ski pants and ski goggles, with mufflers wrapped tightly around our necks. The snow had only begun to fall and the trees were already frosted sugar-white.
After we had our fill of chicken pot pie and brownies, Nathan read to us from “The Long Winter,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Emily read the Christmas chapter from “Little House in the Big Woods” as Nemo howled outside. Having read this series over and over growing up, (I used to read “The Long Winter” every winter we lived in New Hampshire, just for solidarity), hearing the familiar stories was like a visit with old friends.
The walk home was eerie and quiet beneath the wind. A ban on all vehicles except plows and emergency vehicles emptied the streets. We wished for a horse drawn sleigh and hot baked potatoes in our pockets to keep warm!
The leftover brownies were the perfect fuel for the two days of digging out that followed. And now that the snow has finally begun to melt, here's another good reason to bake up a batch of these dense chocolate brownies topped with a thick sugary chocolate-y frosting that you must follow with a tall glass of milk: Valentine’s Day.
A homemade dessert baked with love (chocolate never faileth) is the best way to say, A Sweet For My Sweet.
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened, alkalized cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (16 tablespoons or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
2 cups vanilla-scented granulated sugar (this is made by leaving a vanilla bean in a canister of sugar, otherwise just use regular sugar)
1-1/2 teaspoons intensified vanilla extract
9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Film the inside of the baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Sift the all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl, set aside.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove from heat and whisk together. Allow to cool until tepid.
Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl to blend well, about 1 minute, then add the vanilla-scented granulated sugar and whisk slowly for 1 minute, or until just combined. Whisk in the tepid melted chocolate-butter mixture. Blend in the vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until all particles of flour are absorbed into the batter, using a whisk, wooden spoon or flat wooden paddle.
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth over the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake the cake layer for 35 to 37 minutes or until just set. Don’t worry if a tester doesn’t come out clean, do not overbake or the cake layer will dry out.
Cool the cake layer in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes while you make the frosting.
3-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsifted confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoon (light) table cream
1 teaspoon intensified vanilla extract
Place the confectioners’ sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In the double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate. Whisk until combined, allow to cool until tepid.
Add the combined butter and chocolate to the sugar and salt. Add the milk, light cream, and vanilla extract. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the frosting on moderately low speed until creamy and completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl two to three times to keep the frosting even-textured. Do not beat the frosting on high speed or it will become airy and fluffy instead of creamy and dense.
Immediately and carefully, place large dollops of the frosting evenly over the surface of the hot bar cookie base and spread it, using a flexible offset spatula. Spread it smoothly and lightly, to keep the bar cookie layer intact.
Let the sweet cool in the pan on a rack for 3 to 4 hours, or until cooled and completely set. The cooling time is especially important in hot, humid or damp weather.
Cut the cake into four quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares, using a small, sharp knife. Remove the chocolate squares from the baking pan, using a small, metal offset spatula.
Freshly baked, the squares keep for 4 to 5 days.