This is a lovely idea--brownies used for a birthday cake with brightly-burning candles. The idea came from a picture in Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Brownies are always easy to make and always delicious, especially with a dollop of ice cream (Remember Ireland's fudge pie?). The introduction is from Nigella herself:
"I don't understand why people don't make brownies all the time--they're so easy and so wonderful. My friend Justine Picardie gave me the idea for setting the brownies so gloriously alight when she asked me to make them for her husband's birthday. Ever since then, I've copied the idea: brownies are much quicker to make than a cake, and they look so wonderful piled up in a rough-and-tumble pyramid spiked with birthday candles. And I'd much rather eat a brownie than a piece of birthday cake any day; I think most people would." So here is the recipe!
1 2/3 cups soft unsalted butter 1 teaspoon salt
13 ounces best bittersweet chocolate 1 1/3 cups chopped walnuts
6 large eggs pan measuring approximately
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 13 X 9 X 2 1/2 inches
1 2/3 cups sugar birthday candles and holders,
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour if appropriate
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your brownie pan--I think it's worth lining the sides as well as the base--with foil or parchment.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. In a bowl or large wide-mouthed measuring cup, beat the eggs with the vanilla and sugar. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then nuts and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes. When it's ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. And even with such a big batch you do need to keep alert, keep checking: the difference between gungy brownies and dry brownies is only a few minutes; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.Makes a maximum of 48.