There are lots of kinds of brownies, and all of them have their merits. The cake-like thick ones contrast significantly to the dense fudgy kind. Some have walnuts and some don't. Some are frosted, but more aren't. But all brownies have one thing in common: chocolate. The variations in recipes are endless with optional additions: cinnamon, mint, chocolate chips, coconut, peanut butter. They are all interesting, but a purist prefers simplicity. I choose the basic recipe more often than not, but am open to variation on an occasional basis. Yes, there are things called blond brownies, or butterscotch brownies--which are really just another kind of dense bar cookie. I don't include them in this assessment.
My favorite brownie is a dense, fudgy one with chunky walnuts mixed in. The top of the brownie is a little flaky, but when your teeth sink in, the chewy base with the crunchy nuts takes over the texture experience. They should be moist erring toward gooeiness, sweet but not sicky sweet nor bittersweet, and intensely dark chocolate. They should also be large--at least two by two inches square, preferably a little bigger yet. Warm, not hot, from the oven is yummy, but they should also be wonderfully satisfying when completely cool.
Why do I like them so much? Chocolate and nuts are a hard combination to beat. The rich smoothness of the chocolate complements the crunchy roasted flavor of the baked nuts. They are honest and straightforward. You know what you are getting. They are hefty enough to satisfy, but not heavy so as to tax your digestive tract. They get along well with milk, ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce, but can stand independently with no apology necessary. They pack well for picnics and lunches. They don't stick around long enough to go stale. They aren't messy because you always want to catch the crumbs! They are American. They can be simple or complex. They can be elegantly plain or fussily dressed up. They are comforting.
Brownies are rarely disappointing. I always avoid brownies pre-packaged in individual wrappers, where you can see the nuts clearly pressed into the top of heavy dough. They are guaranteed to chew like play-doh and be an indigestible lump in your stomach. They will be sickly sweet to cover up the lack of chocolate intensity. Only in desperation will I eat them, and only after checking for mold on the bottom, since their freshness disappears with the sealing of their cellophane coffins.
Finally I like brownies because they are universally pleasing. It's hard not to like them. They are easy going, unpretentious and welcoming. Let's face it. We like brownies, because we all want to be one!