We were supposed to leave early this morning to start our drive south to visit Ray's family for Christmas. Due to the snow that has blanketed nearly everywhere that we will drive through, we postponed our trip until tomorrow. Unfortunately we didn't get much snow here but its been a relaxing and cozy day, an unexpected day of vacation -- free to fill with whatever I wanted, or to do nothing at all. Its been a combination of both things. I made these yummy nuts for a snack on our long drive tomorrow and I wanted to share one last recipe with you before I leave for a week or so.
Its quite likely that you have reached your fill of baking and making. I reached mine sometime on Wednesday before I had made anything for the cookie swap that my co-worker's and I had planned. After trying to get everything done for Christmas as early as I could, I didn't feel very motivated to bake anything else. I couldn't give up on the cookie swap, though, and I had an idea of what I wanted to make which came together without too much trouble. These Chocolate and Mint Brownies do have multiple elements but they are fairly simple and the end result was a dense layer of semi-sweet brownie with a simple mint frosting spread with a layer of chocolate ganache. The cookie swap yielded a huge variety of cookies (coconut lime, pumpkin curry chocolate chip, chocolate chip pecan, pistachio and cranberry...) and it was a fun way to share holiday festivities together.
I hope you aren't feeling swamped or overwhelmed by your holiday preparations and celebrations. If your eyes glaze over at the sight of this recipe, come back another time (I'm keeping this other chocolate and mint combo for some future occasion). Have peaceful and joyful holidays, whether you are baking or not!
Chocolate and Mint Brownies for a Cookie Swap
I adapted this from the Grasshopper Squares I found on Epicurious. I have no interest in eating a grasshopper, especially not for Christmas and after all my peppermint bark making, I was tired of white chocolate. Instead of two layers of ganache, I made a layer of mint frosting.
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
10 1/2 ounces of semi sweet choclate
1 cup of brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
3/4 teaspoons of salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch pan and line it with crisscrossed layers of foil, leaving a two inch overhang of foil on all sides -- butter the foil as well. In a heavy bottom 3-4 quart saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate. Add the sugar until it is all combined. Let the mixture cool briefly, then stir in the eggs, vanilla, flour and salt. Spread the batter in the foil lined pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until a fork inserted comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely.
Make the Frosting and Ganache:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
2 cups powdered sugar
10 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Beat the butter until soft and creamy, add milk and peppermint extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it is completely combined with the butter, into a smooth frosting (add more milk if needed to achieve the right consistency).
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, melt chocolate with cream until completely combined and smooth. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally to keep at a spreadable consistency.
When the brownies and ganache are completely cool (I refrigerated both to ensure this), remove the brownies from the pan, by lifting up the foil. Spread the mint frosting on the brownies in an even layer, spread the ganache on top of the frosting. Cut the brownies into your desired size (I refrigerated the frosted brownies before cutting them to make sure they layers would stay intact), cutting off jagged edges to make neatly square or rectangular brownies.