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Grasshopper brownies

Adult tantrums. Do you have them? If you say you don’t you’re totally lying. We all experience them at one time or another. Although we might not violently hurl ourselves onto the floor or kick and scream and say “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” the way a child would, they are part of reality. If I’m in public, you’d never know I was having an internal adult tantrum, as they get thickly coated with a sparkly smile and a highly agreeable nature, but on the inside might be the tornado in Twister. These are usually brought on when things don’t go our way, when we don’t get what we want in life. Your passive aggressive boss, children, cold & uncaring boyfriend, traffic, or overly critical mother (not you, Mama, I love you.) along with an array of other factors could bring those on. But those don’t have much of an effect on me. One deep breath and I’m good, no problemo. What I don’t like dealing with are kitchen failures.

And although these grasshopper brownies tasted incredible, they couldn’t have been a further cry from my aesthetic (ahem, perfectionist) style. As I cut into them, the minty layer oozed out like molten lava. Because they took some time, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” was all I could think. Since I had to bring these to a party that I was already late for, there was no turning back. Each cut was like an individual episode of “What Would You Do?”, with Mark Summers personally pouring green slime all over my hands. Tornado was brewing.

When I got to the party, totally unrational and apologetic of the brownies appearance, my loving friends reminded me that I was being completely ridiculous. As people tasted them, all knowledge of how they looked flew out the window along with the windstorm that was initially inside me. These brownies are good, and by good I mean a dark, dense, deeply chocolately and totally non-cakey brownie, topped with a layer of smooth creamy minty flavor and then another layer of chocolate ganache. If you love chocolate & mint together, these are right up your alley.

Next time, I’ll chill them longer. But you know, like many other things in life, insignificant stuff just really. doesn’t. freaking. matter. Significance lies in that life is delicious overall, just like these brownies were.

Grasshopper brownies

Adapted from Baked Explorations

Note: I would chill these for at least three hours prior to serving in order to ensure the filling won’t leak out. If anything, you could even stick them in the freezer for a bit. Also be sure to use a very sharp knife when cutting them.

For the brownie layer

3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)

5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes

3/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the mint layer

3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes

3 tablespoons creme de menthe (peppermint liquer)

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For chocolate glaze

6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

Make the brownie layer

Set the oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.

Melt the chocolate with the butter in the bowl of a double boiler (bowl set over a pan of simmering water) and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

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 at this stage or your brownies will be cakey, and there’s nothing worse than a cakey brownie.

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.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the minty filling.

Make the minty layer

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 mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed 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.

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 (it’s better for much longer), while you make the chocolate glaze.

Make the chocolate glaze

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.

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 for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

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