I found this recipe in a thrift store, believe it or not. I was shopping around for a nice glass pitcher for cheap and there lost with the piles of books was a copy of a Cook's Illustrated. Inside this whopping $.40 gem was Cooks Illustrated's recipe for Best Brownies. I made their recipe verbatim, but to put a twist on it, I topped the brownie with pecan halves... and drizzled the top with buttery caramel. Here is Cook's Illustrated's recipe for Best Brownies to which I added some caramel over the top for a little more indulgence:
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped medium
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 baking powder
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 6-1 inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
caramel sauce (optional)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; jeat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-ince length foil and foild lengthwise to 8 inch width. Fit foil into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width, fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil lined pan with nonstick cookin spray. (Basically, line your baking pan well with foil, allowing some excess foil to hang off the edges for esay removal once its baked.)
2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. (I didn't bother toasting the nuts because I knew it would bake up in the oven.)
3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.
4. Melt chocolate and butter in a large heatprood bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occassionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 second, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatual until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2 inch squares and drizzle caramel generously over the top before serving. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)