1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil so that the foil extends 2 inches beyond two opposite sides of the pan. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the foil-lined pan.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter pieces, brown sugar, and semisweet and unsweetened chocolates. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and chocolates melt and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. With a wooden spoon, stir in the granulated sugar. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until there is no trace of yolk. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix vigorously until the mixture is shiny and smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
4. Bake the brownies for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack. Let cool for 45 minutes. Using the 2 ends of the foil as handles, lift the brownies out of the pan. Invert onto the wire rack and peel off the foil. Let cool completely (the brownies will be frosted on the smooth side).
5. TO MAKE THE FROSTING: Place the butter and both types of chocolate in a medium saucepan. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolates melt and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer. On low speed, add half of the confectioners’ sugar, the salt, and then half of the cream. Blend in the remaining confectioners’ sugar and the remaining cream. Beat in the vanilla extract. Beat the frosting on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until smooth and shiny.
6. Spread the frosting over the uncut brownies, making it as smooth as possible. Garnish the top with chopped walnuts, if desired. Cut into 9 squares and serve at room temperature.
TO MAKE AHEAD: Wrap each brownie in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or put the wrapped brownies in self-sealing freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving, for maximum flavor impact.
From From Our House To Yours. Compilation copyright © 2002 by Chronicle Books LLC. Foreword copyright © 2002 by Joyce Goldstein. Photographs copyright © 2002 by E.J. Armstrong. All rights reserved. First published by Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, California.
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