Monday, January 16, 2012
"Blue Ribbon" Peppermint Patty Brownies
I affectionately refer to these Peppermint Patty Brownies as my "Blue Ribbon Brownies", since I won a blue ribbon with them at the Tennessee State Fair. Last September, on a whim, I decided to submit a few items, six to be exact, to the Tennessee State Fair's Culinary Arts Competition. With the exception of the kids' contests, I'm pretty sure I was the youngest competitor by a solid three decades. Much to my surprise, I walked away with four ribbons: two first prize and two second prize. Oh, and I won $28. Hey, a cash prize is a cash prize.
I'll share the rest of my award winning recipes some other time, but today let's talk about brownies. In the world of brownies, there are two distinct camps: those who prefer fudgy, and those who prefer cake-like. I stand firmly on the fudgy side of this battle. If I want something that's cake-like, I'll eat, well, cake. These brownies most definitely meet my requirement for fudgyness. Fudgyness is a word, isn't it? No? Well, it should be.
On top of being irresistibly fudgy, these brownies have a thick layer of homemade mint patties in the middle. That's right, I said homemade mint patties. Now if you aren't quite the Martha S. wannabe that I am, please feel free to use store bought mint patties. There are, however, a few reasons that I am now a homemade mint patty convert: first, I know exactly what goes in them, so no high-fructose, hydrogenated gunk; second, I can control the level of mint flavor (extra minty for me, please); and finally, and perhaps most important, I can make the chocolate coating just as thick as I want it.
Whether or not you're looking to win a blue ribbon, I think you should try these out. You won't be sorry.
"Blue Ribbon" Peppermint Patty Brownies
inspired by David Lebovitz, peppermint patties adapted from Gourmet
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I prefer this brand, as it's non-hydrogenated)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1. Combine 2 1/4 cups sugar, water, peppermint extract, vegetable shortening, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at medium speed until combined.
2. Turn out onto the counter and knead in the remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar.
3. Roll out to a 7 to 8 inch square and freeze until firm, at least 15 minutes.
4. In the meantime, melt 4 ounces chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave at 30 second intervals.
5. Remove mint filling from freeze and spread chocolate evenly over one side. Return to freezer for approximately 15 minutes, until chocolate is firm.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5, coating the other side of mint filling with chocolate. Once again, return to freezer until ready to add to brownies.
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
8 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 ounces all-purpose flour
Peppermint patties, chopped into large chunks
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying with non-stick spray.
2. Combine bittersweet chocolate, butter, and vegetable oil in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment. Continue until chocolate is smooth and free of any lumps.
3. Whisk cocoa powder, espresso powder, and cinnamon into chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Slowly whisk in the slightly warm chocolate mixture. Once chocolate is incorporated, stir in flour until no white streaks remain.
5. Spread half of brownie batter into the prepared pan. Top with an even layer of peppermint patties. Pour the remaining batter over the top of the peppermint patties.
6. Bake on the middle oven rack for 35-40 minutes, or until brownies appear puffy. Remove from oven and allow brownies to cool in the pan for about an hour.
7. Once brownies have cooled significantly, place them, unsliced, in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw slightly. Cut into squares. I prefer to cut them fairly small, as they are very rich.
Linked to: Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Sweet Temptations, Tastetastic Thursday