If it’s your birthday and someone wants to throw a party for you, you usually let them. And so it was for Mary Pat, my across-the-street “next-door” neighbor. She arrived dressed to the nines (you should feel like a queen or king on your birthday) and ready to party. I was in the shower. I had spent so long that day getting things ready (bbq brisket and trimmings, to say nothing of the house!) that when it was time for people to arrive, I still wasn’t clean and I had no idea what I was wearing. I didn’t think anyone would show up on time and I can take a pretty quick shower. Naturally, I made sure the starters were out, the drinks table was set-up; the candles were lit. The rule of thumb for even casual entertaining is to have all of the prep done an hour ahead so that you have time to clean-up and maybe even put your feet up for a minute. I have never lived by any rules of thumb. (My thumb seems to be nearly 2 inches, but that’s a piano player.) I sometimes miss a few minutes of my own gatherings because I can’t abide by the rule.

At fifteen minutes beforehand, I may decide on another dish to serve and begin it. “Oh, I have lemons, limes and oranges (and leftover wine), I can make sangria!” There are two small pieces of cheese left and a big hunk of goat’s cheese, let’s make a cheese spread.” And so on. Or, “Vacuum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” If you have dogs like retrievers or Great Pyrenees (see Rocket below), you can’t clean the sofas or vacuum until five minutes before anyone comes. You’d like them to taste the food, not the fur. Putht, Putht (sound of your guests trying to get hair out of their mouths.)
You try and remember to say “Beige or jeans only,” but you forget after awhile and, truly, people like to choose their own party attire.

All dressed-up with somewhere to go……………………………………..
Girls in the ‘hood………………………………………………………………….
Rocket our, by now, very well-adopted Great Pyrenees, wandered all over during this party with fur flying despite the $100 grooming and defurring; some folks had to step outside.

He’s much happier in his new home, where he can jump in and get a free bath at will. ( Rocketman’s new owner has been very generous with pics send from the ranch via I-Phone (I’m jealous of this capability.), so I share a couple here with you…)

He also has views like this —


Photos courtesy R. Saunders.
While we enjoyed all of the food (brisket is another blog), the highlight seemed to be the brownies. Now, Mary Pat, despite my urging, refused to choose her birthday dessert. When that happens, I don’t know what to do! Chocolate is my answer, but I did end of up making three bars (see leftovers below) so folks had a choice. Not everyone likes chocolate (hard to believe, but true).

Still, what to make to which a candle could be added? A brownie pie. What better? And here it is. If you make it, they will come. I have had more than a few people say to me, in the many years I’ve baked this dessert, that this is the very best brownie they’ve ever eaten in their lives. Now, my secret is this: I think they’ve only had box brownies!!! (These are from a maybe 40 yr old Betty Crocker recipe, tweaked over the years. ) So any brownie made with real chocolate might seem close to a blessing. My other secret is that I can’t make these for just us; I will eat them all. There’s very little else that I’m so addicted to, but I have to make these when someone else is coming. I can pass by pie, cake, most cookies, etc. These brownies: they don’t pass go or collect $200. Straight in my mouth and right onto my hips. I could skip eating them and just add them to my girth directly. Achh.

They do not keep well; store them tightly wrapped in the frig for a day or so and, still, they will just be incredibly better on the day you made them. Do not make ahead; do not freeze. Give away instead. Did I say that? These are VERY fast to make; they are all you ever wanted of chocolate, loved ones. A one-bowl wonder.

Make the time.

Brownie Pie a la Mary Pat
12 smallish servings, 8 for real big chocolate fans
frosting: see separate recipe below

Spray with PAM a 9-10 quiche/tart/pie pan (I like the 9.5×2” Corningware quiche dish) and set aside.

In small skillet ( remember this is optional), toast nuts, over medium heat, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, taking care not to burn them. Set aside.

In large covered * glass bowl or measuring cup, melt in microwave (take out and stir halfway through/repeat for extra 10 seconds as needed) for 1-2 minutes. I do this on HIGH, but sometimes use my cool microwave setting for melting chocolate, which takes longer.

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
10 2/3T unsalted butter

Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes, stirring to make sure chocolate is well-melted and incorporated into butter. To this mixture, add and stir well:

2 c granulated sugar
4 beaten eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 ¼ c unbleached white flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 c chopped, toasted (if desired) walnuts or pecans

Spread a decent layer—half-way up the sides- in the brownie pie pan. You’ll have some batter left that you can bake in another small, sprayed dish. I use a baby loaf pan. (Your secret stash.) Wash the glass container you mixed this in; you’ll need it for the frosting.

Bake them about 25 minutes. They are done not when a toothpick comes out clean—forget that—but when they are almost solid in the middle and the brownies are drawing away from the sides of the pan. Underdone is better than overdone. Who wants burned chocolate. I know, I know, you like crusty brownies, don’t you. Well, then go ahead and ruin your little batch. Leave the rest barely done.

Cool the pans on a rack. When cool, make the frosting. Now, this is a bit of a stuff to do, but, trust me, it’s worth every minute.

*I use a large, microwave proof plate for a cover whenever I can.

Brownie Pie Frosting(take off of “Glossy Chocolate Frosting” from B. C.)

3T butter-unsalted
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 c powdered sugar
¼ t salt
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla

In large glass measuring cup or bowl, melt chocolate with butter in microwave. You do not need a double boiler. God has been very good here. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Ok, taste it. Place this bowl over a larger pan 1/3 full of water with lots of ice. Beat the frosting with a whisk until it’s thickened. Spread thickened mixture on the brownie pie and your little stash pan, too. Lick bowl well. (Do this when no one else is home so you needn’t share. After all, they get to eat the brownies later.) Let pie sit with frosting for at least 15 minutes (if you can wait). Cut into 8-12 servings depending on number of guests and hunger.

Wine: I’m a sucker for Port with chocolate.

Other drink: Coffee with Bailey’s. Ok, ok: MILK.

Here’s lookin‘ at you, kid—-

Need something more or to stretch the dessert? Serve with coffee ice cream or make brownie sundaes, using the coffee ice cream and drizzling Kahlua over the brownies along with some hot fudge. Whipped cream? Sure.
Make a birthday for someone. You don’t need to do dinner. Just make the brownies and invite them. They’ll feel honored and loved.

You’re invited for dessert in honor of __________________”
Sounds like a good invitation.

Sing a new song or just “Happy Birthday to you!”
Alyce
P.S. A small apology for the recent photos to those out there with wonderful digital cameras (or wonderful camera skills!), I am finally testing out a new camera as mine has been in sad shape for a while. Suggestions for what kind of new camera to buy are welcome!!