May 10, 2010

Chocolate Mint Squares

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I really hope all y’all had a fabulous Mother’s Day. For me, it began with sleeping in until the heavenly hour of 8:30 a.m. and then waking up to a lovely gift of a seriously great cookbook and a pop-up card from Little C that was scrawled about with crayon and played a weepy version of “You Are My Sunshine” when opened. And because girlfriend can’t even let a commercial jingle pass without shaking a tail feather, I was also gifted an impromptu, twirling, giggly interpretive dance to the musical card and in no time was all what–there’s something in my eye, OKAY? Too much.


Since I was in a teary, slobbering pile before I’d even gotten half my coffee down, the husband (who deems a gift a true success when it makes the recipient tear up with sentimentality) obviously did an awesome job with the Mothers’ Day planning this year. Well played, indeed. Good thing I’d already made a pan of Chocolate Mint Squares that I was pretty sure he would inhale and declare awesome (I was correct).


You may remember me saying something recently about being in my Maida period. And if you try this recipe, I am sure I won’t be alone in this obsession. The base for these fudgy, minty, all around heavenly bars is similar to Maida’s legendary brownie recipe, the cellophane-wrapped ones she is known for toting around in her purse at all times and giving to whomever she happens to see. If that doesn’t make you fall in love with this woman, then you are an iceberg. The end.


But then you take her amazing brownies, spread them with a thin, but powerful, intensely minty buttercream frosting and a slick of bitter chocolate and the whole thing will blow you away. It’s like a brownie meeting a York Peppermint Pattie. Bliss, I tell you. The balance here is so strikingly delicious. At first, I thought it might all be too much–and make no mistake, these are indeed rich–but the ratio of fudgy brownie to creamy mint layer is so spot on, and with a shiny capping of crackly bitter chocolate (totally unsweetened, mind you, not bittersweet), they’re a taste and textural dream.


And even better, since the husband basically lost his ever-loving mind over these things, I’m feeling pretty confident that I now have a golden ticket the next time I lose my scruples or somesuch. Actually, with this recipe in my repertoire, I may have insured really excellent Mother’s Day gifts for my entire future. Boo-ya!


Chocolate Mint Squares
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Cookies

Don’t chill the brownies for too long after the mint layer is added–five minutes is all you need, just so the frosting isn’t totally soft. If it’s too cold, the bitter chocolate glaze will set before you can get it all spread evenly. These brownies are at their most awesome served chilled, or even frozen.

Makes 20

For the brownie layer:

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I stirred the flour well, then spooned into the cup and leveled)

For the mint layer:

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the bitter chocolate glaze:

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon butter

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with nonstick spray, and line it with two perpendicular strips of parchment paper (leave a bit of overhang on all sides), then lightly spray the parchment, too.

Being by making the brownie layer. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, about 45 seconds on high. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until light and foamy. Beat in the sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the chocolate mixture and beat on low just to combine. Stir in the flour by hand just until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing with the mint frosting.

To make the mint frosting, beat together the butter, confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and the peppermint extract. Add more cream, a few drops at a time, until the frosting is thick but easily spreadable. Spread the icing evenly in a thin layer over the brownies. Chill in the refrigerator for just five minutes, until the very surface is set.

Prepare the glaze by melting together the unsweetened chocolate and butter in a small bowl in the microwave, just about 30 seconds on high. Stir until smooth and pour the hot glaze over the mint layer, tilting the pan to coax it into place, and using an offset spatula if necessary. It will be a very, very thin layer.

Refrigerate until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes. Use the parchment handles to lift the brownie slab from the pan to a cutting board, and cut into squares. Chill the cut squares for a few hours until the glaze sets completely. Keep any leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered.

  • I have never commented in this space, though I am a devout reader and the official taste-tester of all things Piece of Cake related… but I had to break my silence to share with all the other readers that these were indeed some of the most 12 Step program level addictive creations that my beautiful, funny, sweet, talented, wife has ever shared…
    – the husband

  • Glad to hear your mother's day went so wonderfully. These brownies look absolutely amazing, too – once I can get my hands on some peppermint extract, they're definitely getting added to the baking queue!

  • Sounds like a fantastic Mother's Day. These brownies look amazing. I'm not a fan of bittersweet chocolate, though. I may have to use semi-sweet hehe. Lovely photos!

  • Sounds like a great Mother's Day and a perfect dessert! I will definitely be trying this one soon 🙂

  • Ohhhh those look beyond delicious… I have a good friend who adores all things chocolate-mint, and I think I might have to bake these for her sometime soon!

  • These look absolutely delicious! I am bookmarking this and making them ASAP – YUM!

  • What gorgeous brownies!! Look so delicious too. I have to say that you inspired me and I recently purchased Maida's Cookie book…what wonderful recipes!!
    And score on the new cookbook, it doesn't get much better than America's Test Kitchen!! Glad to hear you had a fabulous Mother's Day!!

    🙂

  • Oooh chocolate and mint always go so perfectly together i bet these were like heaven!!

  • Well, it sounds like your husband knows what he's talking about!
    I wonder if these work on all significant others?!

  • "Chocolate Mint Squares" look just outstanding. I mean, I am here for the first time and I admit I cant stop myself at reading just one recipe. I went through ur blog and i'm glad to share, I loved just every bit of it. It's beautiful! Just gorgeous!

  • Such a nice post! Lovely creation, tear-jerking anecdote, antics from Little C and a comment from He Who Sees And Tastes It All!

  • These look absolutely delicious!! Love that comment from your husband 🙂

  • Hooray for you having a precious Mother's Day! So glad you did. Those are tears of deep love and joy, I'm sure – and well deserved, too!

    Might just have to add Choc. Mint Squares to the "Father's Day" list…I may be baking for days at this rate! Not that anyone (but my hips) minds. 🙂

  • I just started making these and when I read more closely, realized the brownie layer is identical to my recipe. If you want fewer dishes, you can do it by hand, in one bowl, quite easily. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, let cool 3 minutes. Then add sugar and vanilla, then eggs (one at a time), then flour and salt. Anything for fewer dishes (and the same delicious taste)! Can't wait to see how the mint and chocolate layers taste together!

  • Jami–Interesting! I think here the mixing method (getting a good amount of air into the eggs first) makes a difference in the finished texture, though, and makes it a more sturdy layer of brownie underneath the icing and glaze. I love the method you're talking about for a softer, fudgier brownie. Hope you enjoy it!

  • wah!…Every time I see chocolates I can't stop myself from craving..I really love chocolates that I want to know how to make different recipes out of it!…It's good you have blog like this.I am inspired…thanks…

  • Just made these– so delicious. For the filling, I doubled the peppermint extract and used only 3/4 cup powdered sugar.

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