Box Brownies with Flair

Trader Joe’s truffle brownie mix makes up one of my favorite batches of brownies hands down.  So, I never thought to improve on them until I came across a brownie recipe that included Andes chocolate mints.  I didn’t have time to whip up a batch of brownies from scratch, so I used the Trader Joe’s brownie mix, added half a teaspoon of espresso powder, and mixed in a package of chopped Andes mints.  And 25 minutes later, voila, brownies with flair.

Here are the ingredients to get yourself some brownie flair.

TJ brownies w andes1

If you look closely, you can see part of an Andes mint peeking out from one side of the brownie.

TJ brownies w andes4

Chocolate Mint Brownies

“With great power comes great responsibility.”  And the person who makes these outrageously decadent Chocolate Mint Brownies will have great power bestowed upon them as the keeper of rich, fudgy brownies, layered with a cool, creamy peppermint frosting, and topped with a smooth chocolate ganache.  So, distribute these brownies with great care and responsibility for they are so delicious that people will go to great lengths devour them.  You’ve been warned.

Like most superheros, on the outside these Chocolate Mint Brownies look quiet and unassuming.
Chocolate Mint Brownies- Sally's 3

Yet, when you delve deeper, you’ll find that the brownies are composed of rich, complex layers, resembling an Andes mint.
Chocolate Mint Brownies- Sally's 4

Chocolate Mint Brownies

(From Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Makes 1 9×13 pan of brownies

Ingredients

BROWNIES
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (85g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder

MINT FROSTING LAYER
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) milk
1 1/4 teaspoons peppermint extract
liquid or gel green food coloring (optional)

CHOCOLATE LAYER
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
1 heaping cup (around 200g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

BROWNIES

  1. Melt the butter and chopped chocolate together.  You can do this in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, or you can do this in a microwave by heating in 20 second intervals and stirring after each interval of heating. Remove the melted chocolate and butter mixture from the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Position the oven rack to the lower third of the oven, and preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil), leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.
  6. Whisk in the vanilla.
  7. Mix the salt, flour, and cocoa powder in a separate medium size bowl.  Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg and butter mixture (do not overmix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients).
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-36 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs when the brownies are done. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, lift the parchment (or foil) out of the pan using the overhang on the sides, and place on a baking sheet as you make the frosting. Do not cut into squares yet.

MINT FROSTING

  1. In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and milk. Beat for 2 minutes on low speed, then increase to high speed and beat for an additional minute.
  3. Add the peppermint extract and food coloring (if using), and beat on high for one minute. Taste and add additional peppermint extract if desired.
  4. Frost cooled brownies, that you placed on the baking sheet, and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator. This allows the frosting to “set” on top of the brownies which makes spreading the chocolate layer easy. Keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Or melt in a medium microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring after each, in the microwave.
  2. Once melted and smooth, pour over the mint layer. Gently spread with a knife or offset spatula.
  3. Place the brownies, that are still on the baking sheet, in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour (and up to 4 hours or overnight) to set the chocolate.

FINISHING THE BROWNIES

  1. Once chilled, remove from the refrigerator and cut into squares. For neat cutting, wipe the knife off with a paper towel between each cut. Brownies can remain at room temperature for a few hours. Cover tightly and keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

DIY Thin Mints – Throwback Thursday Edition

I baked and cooked a lot before I started blogging.  So, I’ll be using Thursdays (aka TBT or Throwback Thursday) and Fridays (aka Flashback Friday or FBF) to share some of my favorite baking and cooking projects from the past.

First up for TBT is a DIY Thin Mints recipes.  One unfortunate side effect of moving from a suburban area to the middle of a developing urban, downtown area is that I no longer had visual reminders of Girl Scout cookie season.  For the past three years, I kept missing my chance to buy Thin Mints during Girl Scout cookie season, but this year, I finally had a Girl Scout sighting and bought enough boxes to make up for all the lost years.  During the previous years as I was experiencing my Thin Mints cookie drought, I eventually took matters in my own hands and decided to make a DIY version. The Girl Scouts’ version of Thin Mints (at least the kind sold in the Los Angeles area, although there has been talk about different versions of Thin Mints being sold) has a thin, crunchy, dry, and crumbly chocolate cookie covered in a thin layer of slightly waxy, minty chocolate. I found a variety of recipes online (even some involving Ritz crackers which puzzled me a bit), and after much research, decided that the recipe below would most closely resemble the original.  Good news! No need anymore to carefully ration out your Thin Mints supply until the next Girl Scouts cookie season. You can just make your own Thin Mints.

Skinny Mints 2

DIY Thin Mints

(Adapted from All the Good Cookies by Gretchen Holt-Witt)
Makes about 8 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Cookies
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (1 1/4 teaspoons if you want it extra minty)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Coating
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Directions

For Cookies

  1. Beat butter and granulated sugar in a mixer bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl, then add it to butter mixture. Beat until well incorporated. Add peppermint and vanilla extracts. Scrape down the sides of bowl and mix again.
  3. Form the dough into two 12-inch logs (I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then form it into logs while wrapped.).   Make sure to pack the dough well to remove all air pockets in the dough.  Refrigerate the dough logs for at least 1 hour (or long enough so that the dough logs will be firm enough to hold their shape when sliced) and up to 3 days.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Slice the chilled logs of dough into 1/4-inch thick slices (don’t slice them too thin), and place the dough 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.
  6. Bake until the cookies are just firm at the edges, approximately 12-14 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks halfway through the baking time.
  7. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough on cool cookie sheets.

For Chocolate Coating

  1. Line cold cookie sheets with parchment/wax paper.
  2. Combine chocolate and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high, stirring every 45-60 secs until the chocolate is melted and the mixture has the consistency of thick heavy cream.
  3. Using a fork, dip cooled cookies, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Drain well and transfer to parchment/wax paper to firm up.
    Store the cookies in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.