Cooking Across America presents Utah
by Mary Cokenour
Better start this off with a disclaimer: “No Andes Candies or York Peppermint Patties were eaten, melted, nor harmed in any way with the making of this recipe.”
That should make the politically correct or anti-whatever groups happy. Now to the good stuff…chocolate, mint, and brownies.
This trio happens to be one of my very favorites, so making “Chocolate Lovers’ Favorite Mint Brownies” from the Utah Cook Book (page 88) was no hardship at all.
When looking at chocolate’s history, the first cultures to come to mind are the Aztecs and Mayans of Mesoamerica. They made a beverage known as xocoltl, a Nahuatl word meaning “bitter water”.
The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste; the process of fermentation (converting carbs into alcohol) created a nectar only meant for kings.
News flash! Pottery (Deadman Black on Red) found at Alkali Ridge National Historical Landmark, located in San Juan County, held traces of cacao which dated back earlier than the Aztec culture of Mexico.
While the ruin site itself was covered over, it can still be visited. From the Monticello Welcome Center on Route 191, travel south for 11.3 miles; turn onto Mustang Road (CR 207) just before mile marker 60. Stay on CR 207 for 2.8 miles to the junction of CR 207 and CR 204 (Alkali Point Road). Turn left onto CR 204, and the entrance is 1.4 miles on the westward side. Then again, if you just want to read about the Landmark, simply go to my travel blog: www.southwestbrowneyes.com (yes, a little bit of self-promotion never hurts).
Mentha/Mint is known as the herb of hospitality in Greece, was one of Europe’s first deodorizers, has culinary and medicinal uses, there are 20 known species and counting, is mainly a perennial herb that spreads, and is difficult to kill.
If you have a paving stone or natural stone pathway on your property, leave room between the stones and plant peppermint. Imagine the delightful surprise of visitors as they step on the plant and the soothing scent of mint assails their nostrils.
Have a cold? Mint tea and honey will soothe the throat and the blahs; mint jelly on a nicely roasted leg of lamb is a winning meal. Imagine the wondrous jams and jellies that can be made from pineapple mint (sorry, it’s an annual), orange mint or apple mint. Dried mints can be lovely teas and mixed with other herbs for intoxicating combinations.
Alright, alright, you want that brownie recipe.
First off, I have to say that when it comes to baking from scratch, I am always amazed on how I am wearing more flour than seems to go into the bowl.
Add the dry to wet ingredients is a simple step; place mixing blades into bowl, turn on and POOF!! I am suddenly enveloped in a white cloud. Now that takes talent!
Of course, a huge thank you goes out to my favorite guinea pigs at the Monticello Welcome Center, City Office and the San Juan Record. Staring at them intently as they try my concoctions, they know I am seeking the most honest answers and opinions.
Consensus was? Yum, delicious. The brownie is moist and consistent, and the mint is not too thick or overpowering. The chocolate topping is just right in sweetness, and the overall consistency was moist. And my very favorite opinion…Can I have another?
So here is the recipe...
Chocolate Lovers’ Favorite Mint Brownies (From “Utah Cook Book” – page 88)
Brownie Ingredients: 2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, softened, 4 eggs (I used large), 4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and slightly cooled, 2 ½ cups sifted flour, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 cup broken walnuts or pecans (I used walnuts and quartered them)
Preheat oven to 325F. In a large bowl, cream, together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs until well blended; then add melted chocolate. Sift flour, measure, sift again with dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture along with vanilla and nuts. Spread in a greased and floured 9 x 13 baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until no imprint is left when top is touched with finger. Spread Mint Frosting over top and refrigerate for one hour. Glaze with Chocolate Chip Glaze Topping.
Mint Frosting Ingredients: 4 Tbsp. butter, softened, 2 Tbsp. evaporated milk, 2 cups powdered sugar, ½ tsp. peppermint extract, Few drops red or green food coloring, Mix all frosting ingredients together until creamy.
Note: I ended up adding 2 extra teaspoons (mix after each extra teaspoon) of evaporated milk as the frosting was still too stiff to spread.
Chocolate Chip Glaze Topping Ingredients: 6 Tbsp. butter, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preparation: In the top of a double boiler, combine butter and chocolate chips. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly. Pour gently over pink or green frosting and spread by tipping pan; refrigerate.
Note: I used a microwave safe bowl for the melting part; one minute, stir, one minute, stir and it will be smooth and liquidly. For the refrigeration, if you want the chocolate topping soft, 1-2 hours; for it to be candy hard 4-6 hours.