Brownies keep tightly wrapped up to 3 days. Assemble sundaes and eat immediately.
Smoked almonds bring new life to the ever-popular salted caramel sundae. Pile them atop a brownie made of two different chocolates and serve it with a glass of aged tawny port and you will rock dad's world.
Aged tawny port may seem like a drink from a stuffy old gentleman's club, but everyone who tastes it loves it. It is utterly irresistible paired with chocolate and smoky nuts, and is one of the wine world's great bargains.
The wine is softly sweet with lots of complexity from years of aging. It can also be re-corked and held in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks after opening. Many connoisseurs actually prefer the 10- or 20-year aged tawny ports to the more expensive ones aged 30 and over 40 years. Drink them lightly chilled, but drink them.
Look for aged tawny ports from Taylor, Dow, Graham, Sandeman and Warre -- all are readily available nationwide.
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (around 70% cacao), chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons strong espresso coffee
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- A generous pinch salt
- 1/4 cup flour
- Vanilla ice cream
- Caramel sauce, store bought
- 1 1/2 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 x 10-inch baking pan.
2. Place the chocolates and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat at medium power for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and stir with a spatula to encourage melting. Continue microwaving at 15-second intervals, stirring well after every increment until the butter and chocolate are melted. Stir in the coffee and the almond and vanilla extracts, and cool to room temperature.
3. With a plastic spatula, beat together eggs, sugar, cocoa and salt until creamy. Stir in the flour and melted chocolate until smooth. Pour into the pan and bake 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out with a few streaks.
4. Cool on a cake rack.
When ready to serve, cut into 2- or 3-inch squares and nestle into the bottom of a highball glass or in small individual bowls. Add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzle with caramel and a generous handful of chopped smoked almonds. Serve with a small glass of chilled tawny port.
(Photo: Jennifer Simonson)