1) To make the Almond Crunch Topping: Combine the melted chocolate with the almonds. Stir gently until nuts are well coated. Spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the Demerara sugar and the smoked salt. Break any overly large salt crystals up with your fingers as you sprinkle.
2) Set the tray of sugared/salted chocolate nuts aside to firm up. Once the chocolate is firm, crush the topping by pulsing in a food processor, or in a zip-top bag with a rolling pin or other heavy object.
3) Make a 9" x 13" pan of your favorite brownies. Fudgy, cakey, or in between, whatever you wish. A sturdy chocolate cake will also work well for this recipe. Bake and cool completely.
4) To make the Browned Butter Caramel Icing: Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue to cook the butter until the milk solids begin to brown and the butter turns a golden color.
5) Add the brown sugar and salt and cook over low heat until boiling. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes. The sugar should be completely dissolved at this point.
6) Take off of the heat briefly, and stir in the milk. Return to the heat and bring the mixture back to a boil. Remove the pan and shut off the heat.
7) Pour the mixture into the bowl of your mixer, and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the vanilla.
8) Beating on low speed, add the confectioners' sugar in stages. Increase the speed to high and beat until the icing is lighter in color and texture. This icing will have a satiny feel, not fluffy like buttercream, and will still be slightly warm to the touch.
9) Spread the icing on the brownies and top with the almond crunch topping, pressing it down gently into the icing. Serve warm, or chilled.
Yield: about 24 brownies.