Monday, March 12, 2012


Linger by The Cranberries
This song has a 36 second intro filled with m-m-m-ms.  The Cranberries are from Ireland and this weekend is St. Patrick's Day. And the lyrics are about how cheating can really mess with a relationship.  Yep.  That's pretty much what this past weekend was all about.  I knew I wanted to post today with a St. Patrick's Day theme and chocolate and mint came to mind with mint being green and all.  I decided that that flavor combo would manifest itself in the form of a brownie.  And, although I did the majority of the planning of this brownie while on the treadmill, full of resolve to limit my samples to little nibbles . . .  I tried!  I really tried!  But these turned out really, really GOOD!  So good, in fact, that my husband, who doesn't even like the chocolate/mint flavor combo, has eaten AND returned for more nibbles!  And the cheating belongs to me.  I've been doing so well on my resolve to eat better and exercise more.  Well, I'm exercising alright!  But these guys won out.  The Cranberries chastise me - "do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger?"  And then I take a bite and end up saying, "M-m-m-m-m!"  For about 36 seconds.

I'm not Irish and I've never been to Ireland, although it's definitely on my list!  I HAVE been to England, however, and enjoyed being the center of a rousing rendition of an Irish pub-drinking song. Literally!

In 2003, my daughter and I went to England to attend a study abroad program at Cambridge University.  We arrived a week early to give ourselves some time to explore London.  It was wonderful! And, to this day, one of the most memorable and funny experiences of the trip happened one night on the tube (their subway.)

It was late and we were heading back to our room via the tube. Being short, I always had to make sure to claim one of the poles that extended from ceiling to floor to hang onto since there was no way I could reach the upper rails.  On this particular night the seats were taken but there was plenty of floor space and I easily found my way to a pole and held on.  Everything was quite serene until one stop near Picadilly Circus.

The doors opened and admitted this group of about five strapping young men, mugs in hand, spirits high! It was evident that they were in the middle of a pub crawl.  Remember how I said there was plenty of floor space?  They apparently didn't notice.  Like they apparently didn't notice little 'ol me clinging to my pole.  For they all decided to huddle around the SAME pole.  To make room I proceeded to wrap my body around the pole - a skill I  had already perfected from riding the shuttle bus when I attended Weber State University!

My eyes desperately sought out the face of my daughter, a few poles away and OUTSIDE the circle of friendship of which I was now so intimately a member.  She seemed amused.  I decided to be amused later, providing I escaped unharmed!  What could possibly happen on public transit, right?

All went well for a stop or two.

Then suddenly, one of the guys did a sort of "Hip, Hip, Hooray" type of thing and the whole of them launched into one of the most rousing songs I have EVER been a part of without singing myself!  It was deafening!  They sang with gusto, clinking mugs together!  I didn't understand a word but I was pretty sure it was Irish.

At this point my eyes were wide open - think Lucille Ball.  Were these the hooligans about whom we had been hearing so much on the news???  All I knew was that I was going to stick tight to my pole and make as little motion as possible so they would continue to not notice I was smack dab in the middle of them, their hands holding the same pole, above and below my own.

One stop more, the doors opened, they exited, and, like a vacuum, all sound went with them, leaving nothing but a humorous memory for this American lady!

If I could track down those blokes today I'd gladly treat them to a batch of these delicious brownies.  A layer of chocolate mints, like me, smack dab in the middle, baked until melty, then topped with a layer of ganache.  The textures in this brownie will certainly have you either singing your own pub song or joining The Cranberries with m-m-m-ms.

Minty Chocolate Brownies
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1 c. unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 t. vanilla
4 eggs
1 c. flour
3  5 oz. boxes of Haviland Thin Mint patties, frozen
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces and/or milk chocolate (I used a blend)
5 oz. heavy cream
2 t. peppermint extract
1 bar white chocolate or 3 oz. white chocolate chips
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 13x9 pan by spraying and lining with parchment so that the long ends hang over the edge, creating the handles with which you will remove the brownies from the pan later.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and butter and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted.  It should take a total of 2 - 3 minutes.  Let cool.

Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla and blend well.  Being sure that it is cooled, add the eggs and whisk together.  Add the flour and fold in just until blended.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Place a layer of the frozen chocolate mints.
Add the remaining batter and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it across the mint layer.
Bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool.  Using the handles, lift the brownies from the pan and place on a cutting board and pull the parchment down, exposing the sides.

Place your semi-sweet/milk chocolate chips in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to break into smaller pieces.  Heat the cream just to a simmer.  With the food processor running, pour the hot cream in through the chute.  The cream will melt the chocolate and create a luxurious chocolate mixture.  Continue to process until velvety smooth.  Add the peppermint extract and mix well.  Pour the ganache over the top of the baked and cooled brownie, using the offset spatula to reach the corners and create a smooth top.  Chill.

Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in 15 second intervals, stirring well after each interval.  Take about a third of the melted white chocolate out and place in a separate bowl and color with green food coloring.  Place the white chocolate and the green chocolate in plastic bags and snip the corner.  First, using the white chocolate make a drizzle diagonally back and forth, going past the edges, down the entire length of the brownie.  Next, using the green-tinted chocolate, do the same thing going in the opposite direction.  Then, to create a plaid, use the white chocolate again and drizzle again in the same manner as the first time.  
Sprinkle with green sprinkles, if desired.  Chill.

Trim off the outer 1/4" edges - I used a pizza cutter.  Then divide into squares.
As far as which chocolate mints to use, I did a test between the Ghirardelli squares and the Haviland Thin Mints.  
I absolutely couldn't tell the difference in the end.  And, since the Havilands are .89 at my Walgreen's right now and it only takes two and a half boxes, that would be my choice.  You're going to put them in the freezer anyway so stock up while they are on sale!  Also, you don't have to unwrap each piece, which saves time.  It takes two bags of the Ghirardelli squares which is more than twice the cost of the other.  And there's the unwrapping issue . . . But use what you have!

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