Mint Julep Brownies
October 21, 2011
I want you to close your eyes and imagine the following scene. There’s an open bottle of whiskey on the counter and brownie crumbs, not to mention smears of melted chocolate decorating the countertops, sink, and all unfortunate kitchen appliances within reach. If you watch Arrested Development, think Tobias and blue paint. (If you don’t, watch it. Now.) I’m standing at the counter, in my disgusting pink apron, with a bowl of melted chocolate, holding a spoon en route to my mouth. The chocolate from the spoon is dripping all over the floor. My roommate, K, walks into the kitchen and that’s the first time she sees me today. I’m heartily ashamed, but she takes one look at the whiskey bottle, one look at the floor, and then one last look at me, and then gets really excited and happy that there are good things going on in her kitchen.
These mornings serve to remind me not of my embarrassingly hedonistic tendencies but of how awesome my friends are. She not only continues to take me seriously EVEN after she finds me standing in a pool of dripped melted chocolate and whiskey and eating it out of the bowl before 11 am, but also joins in by taking her finger, running it alongside of the bowl, and picking up rogue brownie crumbs to pop in her mouth. I love these moments so much, when a wonderful relationship, or thing, becomes almost brutally clear. Brutal in the sense that the amazingness and all its parts and manifestations seem simply to be laid out before you and, for a brief second, you can see how perfectly everything fits together.
Like these brownies, too, all the flavors work so well together that you’ll consider not eating anything else for the rest of day because, psh, how do you top the mint-chocolate-whiskey combination?!
Mint Julep Brownies
(Recipe adapted from Fragrant Vanilla Cake)
Yields an 8 by 8 inch square pan, serving anywhere from 6 to 9, depending on how you slice
Notes: I halved the original recipe, which made a 9 by 13 inch pan of brownies, and it worked beautifully, so I’m copying down the recipe using half portions. I baked my brownies in four 4 ½ inch tartlet pans with removable bottoms, but in my experience the baking times don’t differ much between the tartlet pans and an 8 by 8 inch square pan. I also omitted the vanilla extract called for originally and used an extra tablespoon alcohol instead. The last note is my use of whiskey instead of bourbon. From what I understand (which is not a whole lot, as you’ll see), some whiskeys are bourbons and all bourbons are whiskey. It’s also what I had on hand, so there’s them apples. My last note concerns the amount of mint; I eyeballed it and may or may not have added more than necessary. I’ve found that mint is easily overwhelmed by chocolate when you bake with it, so I erred on the side of caution, used almost a ¼ cup mint leaves, and was rewarded.
1/4 fresh mint leaves
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup, or 1 stick, unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon/whiskey
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. If using an 8 by 8 inch square pan, line with foil, leaving an inch and a half overhang on at least two sides, and spray with non-stick cooking spray (a spray especially for baking or a non-flavored oil spray, such as canola). If using removable bottom pans, just coat pans with non-stick cooking spray.
2. If you have access to a food processor, or similar kitchen contraption, combine mint and sugar and process in food processor until mint is very finely chopped. If can’t use a food processor for this step, chop the mint as finely as you can and rub into sugar using your fingertips, until mint is evenly distributed.
3. Melt together butter and chocolate, either in a microwave, mixing every 30 second interval until melted, or in the top of a double boiler.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine melted chocolate mixture and mint sugar. Whisk until smooth.
5. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by the bourbon. Whisk until mixture is uniform and smooth.
6. Whisk flour into batter. When batter is smooth, pour evenly into pan(s). Smooth top, making sure batter is distributed evenly.
7. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Be careful not to overbake!
8. Cool brownies in pan until pan is cool enough to handle. Remove brownies from pan and let brownies cool completely (room temperature). Once cooled, top with chocolate ganache (recipe follows). Let ganache set for a few hours before slicing.
6 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
¼ cup milk or cream
Optional: 1 teaspoon whiskey
1. Using a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate and milk.
2. Stir until smooth, then let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using.
Store left-over ganache refrigerated and in an airtight container for up to a week.