Saturday, March 17, 2012

Minty Frosted Brownies

Top o' the morning to you! Hope this St. Patty's Day finds you feeling lucky (or blessed!) and happy. If you're feeling the least bit down, I've a recipe that will cheer you up in no time. Chocolate always helps, doesn't it?

Let me be very clear: I decided on these brownies because they are simple and quick. But alas! "Luck" was not on my side yesterday, as I discovered (gradually) while trying to throw these "simple" brownies together. I have made this recipe countless times- it is a specialty of my mom's and a great family favorite. However, deciding on impulse like I did, I made the mistake of assuming I had all the ingredients. Except eggs. I knew I did not have eggs. So I visited one of our two local convenience stores (nearest grocery is 20 min. away) and picked up the eggs. Another vital ingredient is unsweetened baking chocolate. I usually don't have a bar of that on hand, so many times I have substituted unsweetened cocoa powder, with great results. After getting home with the eggs, however, I began to pull out the other necessary ingredients, and to my dismay, the cocoa powder was nowhere to be found! I could not bring myself to believe that I would run out and not replenish my stock, so I spent some amount of time searching and re-searching every shelf of the pantry. Nope, no cocoa powder. Or baking chocolate for that matter. Now I knew that the convenience store I had just been in did not carry either. My only hope was the other store, about twice the distance, but still only about 2 mi. away. So, there I went immediately and stood staring at the baking items, not willing to believe it wasn't there. Was it? I thought maybe if I stared harder, it might materialize. It did! Or maybe it was just that I didn't recognize it for what it was...I usually buy Hershey's in that inviting dark chocolate colored tin...this was Western Family brand in a bright yellow can. Ah, well. Beggars can't be choosers, as they say. So, cringing at the price tag for such inferior cocoa, I betook myself directly home to finish baking the brownies.
For fun, I decided to halve the recipe and bake them in cute little ramekins for individual servings. This part went beautifully. While the brownies were baking, though, I again rummaged through my cupboards in disbelief. What was it this time? I was sure I had some peppermint extract (for the frosting). Well, after the cocoa episode, not so sure. But just for good measure, I double searched the cupboards again. Nope. Not a drop to be seen. Vanilla and/or almond extract simply would not do. I was crunched for time, being on my way to an exercise class, so I decided to stop by the store (again) on my way home from the gym that evening. Crossing my fingers all the while, knowing peppermint extract was not a likely commodity for a convenience store to carry.
Fast forward to my trip home from the gym and there I am, staring at the same shelves, not able this time to make any extract appear but vanilla and rum. Rum? No, that would not do. Who ever heard of green-tinted rum-flavored frosting on a chocolate brownie? So, in desperation, hubby and I hatched Plan B. I would tint the frosting green, then drizzle it with melted mint chocolate candies (I chose Junior Mints) to add the peppermint flair. It would have to do. And it did do.

The cast of unruly characters
Although my preference would definitely be to flavor the frosting with mint, the green frosting almost effectively tricks your mind into tasting peppermint where there is none. And the melted mints made a chewy, minty, dark chocolaty topping to perfectly compliment the dense brownie and sweet, creamy frosting.
All in all, though this did not turn out to be the "simple and quick" dessert it usually is, and though I can't exactly claim to have the luck o' the Irish, it was delicious and the green frosting was a great way to usher in the celebration of all things Irish!

Minty Frosted Brownies
by Mom (adapted from Family Favorites recipe book)
serves 6-9 depending on size of pieces (halve recipe for 4 small ramekins)

2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 TB butter, softened
1/8 cup milk
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

1-2 boxes Junior Mints or semi-sweet chocolate chips, if desired
1 TB butter

Preheat oven to 350.
Melt chocolate and butter in microwave.
Beat eggs and sugar until smooth; add flour. Pour in chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
Pour into greased and floured 8x8 pan (or pour into greased ramekins).
Bake 15-20 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out nearly clean.
For frosting, mix together all ingredients until smooth. Frost cooled brownies. Melt Junior Mints or chips  with butter if desired and drizzle over frosted brownies. Chill until ready to serve. Great with ice cream!

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