Thursday, December 9, 2010
Grasshopper Bars aka Creme de Menthe Bars
I can tell you right now that the Christmas season is upon us.
How do I know, you query.
The air is bristling with it. Yes. Bristling. It is sharp and pointy and cuts like a knife, my face feeling as if it is being jabbed from every which way as soon as I step out into the cold.
My brother keeps calling me to see what we should get our sister for Christmas. I keep not picking up. I don't have time or money for such things.
And, most momentously. This week, I chose peppermint over pumpkin.
Hark the herald angels. Hark.
And I'm deeply sorry to whoever's pigs just started flying. I truly had no control over the situation. The holiday spirit just grabbed me by my hips (yes. Hips. They are aplenty.), threw some creme de menthe in my hand, and told me to move some mountains.
So I did.
I opened up my brand spanking new copy of Baked Explorations, discovered this little gem of a holiday miracle, and then proceeded to cover the entire now-not-so-brand-spanking-new book with chocolate fingerprints.
I have wandering hands. That is what the holiday season brings out in me.
These are a tad bit strenuous to make but are definitely worth it. They are fudgy and rich but then you get a hint of that minty fresh layer and that cuts the richness enough so that even after five you still feel like you can eat six more. (Pro? Con? Depends on how much self control you have.)
I made them to bring to a holiday potluck but when I tasted a small piece of one before heading over (quality control purposes, ahem). I seriously considered hoarding them in my room. Pretending as if they had never happened. Saving them for a cold, bitter day (today, tomorrow, yesterday).
But then the holiday spirit came and pinched my upper thigh. Forcing me to take a good hard look at my upper thigh. That set me straight.
So now that I have buttered you up with talk of holiday spirit and all. I have a favor to request of you.
I am running (walking? run-walking?) a half marathon in January. I am doing it to raise money for people all over this country who are suffering from leukemia and lymphoma. Most of whom are children. Many of whom will spend their holidays in a hospital. All of whom need your help.
So if you have five dollars to spare. I would deeply appreciate it if you would click on this link or the one on my sidebar and donate. Really. Five dollars. That's less than that pumpkin spice latte you just ordered. And it's definitely less than that beer you're going to consume come Friday night.
Thank you. Truly.
Makes 24 brownies, adapted from Baked Explorations
For the Brownie Base:
3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
5 oz good quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325.
2. Grease the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9x13 inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
3. Configure a large-ish double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. Wait until the mixture is at room temperature (i.e. you can stick a finger in it for ten seconds without writhing in pain).
4. Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter or your brownies will be cakey.
5. Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do NOT use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (about 1 minute from being cooked completely). A toothpick inserted in the brownies at an angle should yield a few loose crumbs. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan while you make the creme de menthe filling.
For the Buttercream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk (I used low fat)
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 stick butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp creme de menthe (easily purchased at your local liquor store)
1 tsp peppermint extract
1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5-7 minutes.
2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy.
3. Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined. If the filling is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the proper consistency. If the filling is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to proper consistency. Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes while you make the chocolate glaze. **I put mine in the freezer because we had no room in our refrigerator.
For the Chocolate Glaze
6 oz good quality dark chocolate (60-72%) coarsely chopped
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
1. In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat.
2. Pour the mixture over the chilled creme de menthe layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator (or freezer) for 1 hour (or less), until the glaze hardens.
3. Remove the pan from the fridge, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately. For long term storage (up to 4 days), cover with saran wrap/aluminum foil, make room in your fridge, and store it in there.
This is my submission to Meeta's Monthly Mingle, the theme of which is Chocolate Extravaganza, and which is being hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection. I am also submitting it to this week's Holiday Recipe Exchange through which I could win a $100 Scharffenberger gift certificate! Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.