Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thick Mint Brownies

Have you ever experienced the smell of burnt peppermint? No, you say? Well if you wish to subject your sense of smell to this nauseating scent come on over to my house; I'm sure the odor will last for days! After the mint filling in these brownies oozed all over my oven and turned into a piles of blackened peppermint, there is no escaping the smell. I tried leaving for a while with B3 (my youngest) to let the house air out , but we returned to, yep you got it, the smell of burnt peppermint.

Had the recipe been at least somewhat edible I wouldn't be so bothered by the persistant odor invading my home however, it is next to impossible to eat more than one bite of this dessert and not encounter the scorched pepperpint flavor. I had such high hopes for this brownie recipe; it combined two of my favorite flavors, chocolate and mint, and looked so elegant and pretty in the photo. Maybe this would become one of my "go to" recipes when I was requested to bring a dessert..

I'm not sure what went wrong, or when exactly during the recipe it happened but, I have never had a recipe turn out so badly, (except for the spaghetti incident in the early 90's but I was only in junior high.) I followed the directions and the suggestions in the recipe review exactly because it used a method for filling the brownies that I had never seen before and, most importantly for this cook, it used ingredients that aren't the most inexpensive. This dessert was going to be a treat for us and it turned out very wrong. I will say though, the brownie portion has potential and I will try it again but I will be leaving the filling out. It oozed out of the top during baking, and upon cooling solidified into a hard crust....not appealing at all.

Thick Mint Brownies
Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour

Mint Filling
4 cups (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable shortening*
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil, or 1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (to taste)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Signature Secrets Culinary Thickener (3/4 ounce)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) heavy cream

Brownie Batter
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 pound (about 2 generous cups) brown sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips

*Usually we don't use vegetable shortening due to its trans-fat content; but in this case it's necessary, to keep the filling from melting into the batter as the brownies bake.

To make the mint filling: Beat the filling ingredients together till they're cohesive; the mixture will be the consistency of stiff cookie dough. Spread the filling, on a piece of lightly greased plastic wrap, into a rectangle just slightly smaller than a 9" x 13" pan; this is most easily done on the outside bottom of a 9" x 13" pan that you've covered with plastic wrap. Cover the filling with wrap, and refrigerate overnight, or till thoroughly chilled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly greased a 9" x 13" pan.

To make the brownie batter: In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, till it's very hot, but not bubbling; it'll become smooth and shiny looking. The sugar and butter will separate; that's OK, just stir till some of the butter has been reabsorbed. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies; very attractive, should you choose not to cover the brownies with ganache.

Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring till smooth; then add the flour and chips, again stirring till smooth. Spoon half the batter (about 28 ounces) into the prepared pan. Using the plastic wrap as a sling to move the filling, slide it atop the batter. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake the brownies for about 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a tiny amount of crumb clinging to it. Remove the brownies from the oven, and cool them completely before icing with ganache. Allow the icing to set before cutting and serving the brownies. Yield: 2 dozen brownies.

Chocolate Ganache Icing
Heavy cream. Chocolate. That's it. You can't go wrong.
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream or whipping cream

In a microwave-safe bowl, or in a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat the cream till it's very hot. You should see wisps of steam beginning to rise from it, and some very tiny bubbles around the edge. Add the chocolate to the cream, and stir till smooth. Don't panic—at first, the mixture will look disarmingly soupy, but just keep stirring. Very shortly it'll become a rich brown, thick, shiny spreadable icing. Yield: 2 cups icing.
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