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For dinner parties, folks often deem it necessary to fancy up the food, thus dismissing luscious, homey options in favor of something prettier for the table. In restaurants, this is an issue that pastry chefs constantly face—the pressure to present something artful, when all we really feel like having is a big fat cookie. We are constantly dreaming up ways to sell nostalgic, somewhat less-refined treats in an artful package. Here is one such treat: a pie that lovers of brownie sundaes will adore, dressed up for a more formal holiday table.
This recipe is designed to be versatile and easy to make, and the flavors and toppings can be changed to suit your needs. You start by making the foundation: a round base of rich, homemade chocolate brownie, and a disk of ice cream. For the holidays, I've added peppermint extract to the brownie batter, but you'd do equally well using vanilla extract if mint is not your thing. For my version, I topped the pie with crushed candy canes for a festive look, but any other kind of candy will do. And of course, no brownie sundae is ever complete without hot fudge (or for non-mint fans, hot caramel sauce), served artfully on the side.