Brownies love a big celebration

Entertaining

Entertaining: Three-layer chocolate-mint goodies are sure to be the hit of the party.

March 17, 2002|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

We live in a small Massachusetts town where our social life is fairly predictable, but once in a while, an event, like the one scheduled for this weekend, jolts us from our complacency. Our good friend John Katzenbach has had his recent book, Hart's War, turned into a film starring none other than Bruce Willis.

To celebrate the opening of the film in our area, John's wife has arranged a private showing for some of their friends at a local cinema. She has planned a casual supper afterward at their house. Although she decided on a caterer to help with the buffet meal for 75 guests, she is overseeing the desserts herself and has enlisted the help of several neighbors, including me.

During the past few weeks I have been working on a new recipe for Chocolate-Mint Brownies for a cooking class, and I was convinced that my variation on a quintessential American dessert would be perfect to take to this celebration. With their unmistakable, refreshing taste of mint, these brownies make perfect nibbles to enjoy after a robust meal.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Chocolate-Mint Brownies

Makes 16 squares

CAKE:

butter and flour, for preparing baking pan

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1 / 4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

bouquet of fresh mint, optional

FILLING:

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons whipping cream

3 / 4 teaspoon peppermint extract

GLAZE:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 / 4 cup whipping cream

Arrange rack at center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 8-inch-square baking pan and shake out excess flour. Line pan with sheet of parchment paper, cut so it extends 2 to 3 inches over 2 sides of pan. Butter and flour parchment paper and shake out excess flour.

To prepare cake, melt un-sweetened chocolate in top of double boiler or in heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. Whisk until smooth and shiny. Remove from heat and set aside.

With electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar, a little at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl with spatula as needed. Reduce speed and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour and cinnamon and beat just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with spatula. Bake until tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Check with tester after 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

To prepare filling, place white chocolate and cream in top of double boiler (or in heatproof bowl) set over (but not touching) simmering water in saucepan. Stir constantly until mixture is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. With spatula, spread filling over chocolate cake layer. Place in refrigerator until cool and set, 20 to 30 minutes or longer.

To prepare glaze, melt semisweet chocolate and cream in top of double boiler (or in heatproof bowl) set over (but not touching) simmering water in saucepan. Whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. With spatula, spread over white chocolate layer. Refrigerate until glaze is set, 20 to 30 minutes or longer. (Brownies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving.)

To serve, run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen brownies. Using the parchment paper extending over sides of pan as an aid, lift brownies from pan. Cut brownies into 16 squares and arrange on platter garnished with bouquet of mint.

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