This is an insanely decadent dessert. Two layers of deep chocolate brownie, studded with chunks of bittersweet chocolate, sandwich a thick layer of buttery peppermint. To top it all off a thick, rich ganache is spread all over the top. It's a lot of work, but when you take that first bite, it's all worth it.
The recipe calls for creating a mint (essentially peppermint buttercream) slab on the bottom of the pan and refrigerating it. I decided to freeze it for easier handling the next day, and it worked out well. Also, I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chips instead of the "chocolate chunks" in the brownie batter, and melted down bittersweet chips for the ganache.
I made a double recipe, and baked one in a glass Pyrex dish and the other in a metal pan (I didn't realize until after I'd started that one recipe makes a big 9 X 13, so we had A LOT of brownies) Something strange happened to the batch baked in glass though. There are supposed to be distinct layers of brownie and mint, but the ones in that pan had the filling melted into the brownie, which was a little dissapointing. I mean, it still tasted fantastic, but after spending all of that time on the separate layers, I at least wanted the satisfaction of being able to see the contrast of the white against the deep brown chocolate. The metal pan turned out perfectly though, so that was good.
Make sure that you note that this is a TWO DAY project. The mint filling is created the day before (or really it could probably be done even a week before if you're planning ahead) and frozen.
Thick Mint Brownies (Adapted from King Arthur Flour, this version from Culinary In The Country blog)
4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons spectrum organic shortening
1 1/4 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons heavy cream
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 very full and packed cups brown sugar
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chunks
2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
To create the filling
In a large mixing bowl, beat together confectioners' sugar, butter, shortening, peppermint extract, flour and heavy cream until completely combined. To make the slab, cover the back of a 9x13" pan with saran wrap. Lightly coat with nonstick spray.
Evenly spread the filling on top of the wrap to form a rectangle just a touch smaller than the bottom. Cover with more saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350
To create the batter
In a large saucepan set, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until combined. Leave on stove and heat the mixture until very hot - but don't let it simmer or boil. Keep stirring until it becomes shiny and pretty smooth.
Remove from heat and mix in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Combine the flour with the chocolate chips, then add that mixture into the batter. Mix until combined.
Lightly coat a 9x13" pan with nonstick spray. Scoop half of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Remove the filling slab from the refrigerator and peel off the saran wrap. Gently place the filling in the pan, on top of the bottom layer, and finish covering with the remaining batter.
Bake for roughly 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick placed in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To create the ganache
In a small saucepan, heat cream until very hot, but not boiling, over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the chocolate to the cream. Stir until it becomes thick and spreadable. Frost on the cooled brownies - let set up before cutting.
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