You know me well enough by now to know that I generally don't add nuts to brownies unless they're a topping or a bottom crust layer. This is another brownie for this weekend's bake sale for Japan and my friend Robbie said popular bake sale items are traditionally chocolate and caramel items and that "anything with M&Ms goes early". Robbie is a mother of 3 so I'm going to take her word as gospel. I also have 6 nephews under the age of 10 (actually I have way more than that but these 6 are the geographically closest to me) and my experience with them and my nieces as they were growing up is that kids also usually don't like nuts, whether they're allergic to them or they just haven't developed the taste for them (yet). So one plain fudge brownie, frosted with chocolate frosting and dotted with plain M&Ms coming up. Visually, they're appealing as well since the bright M&M colors show up well against the chocolate frosting.
The brownie batter is pretty basic and could not have been easier to mix together. I substituted chocolate chips for the pecans (of course). As they baked, the brownies formed a very thin layer of that crusty film some brownies get. I've never cared for that crust but in this case, it doesn't matter since I covered the top with frosting. Start the frosting only after you take the brownies out because it comes together quickly and you need to use it right away before it hardens. Make it like a ganache: after the evaporated milk, butter and sugar boil for 5 minutes, pour it directly over the chocolate chips and corn syrup and whisk until glossy, smooth and free of lumps. Then spread immediately over the brownie. I added the M&Ms right after the frosting so they'll adhere to the top before the frosting sets.
This isn't a brownie I necessarily advocate eating warm. The chocolate won't have set so it'll seem a little mushy. But once it cools, it's nice and fudgy. It's a personal choice though so you can't really go wrong with however you eat it. After all, it's chocolate.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (5 ¼ ounces)
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add the vanilla, then gradually stir in the chocolate mixture and the salt. Gradually add the flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the pecans.
4. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until the brownies are just set. A toothpick inserted in the center will not come out clean. Do not overbake. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely then cut into 24 squares.
One 5-ounce can evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1. In a medium saucepan, combine evaporated milk, sugar and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat.
2. Add semisweet chocolate pieces, stirring until melted. Add corn syrup; stir until combined. Use frosting immediately.