SRP #15: Creme de la Creme de Menthe

In the world of dentistry, “SRP” stands for “Scaling and Root Planing.”  In the world of FoodSwingBlog, “SRP” stands for “Short Recipe Post,” a way for me to augment the recipe archives without the pressure of excessive punning.

Creme de Menthe Brownies

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  That special day when green is good, alcohol is encouraged (more than usual), and all red-haired humans are appreciated.  These chocolatey brownies, with Creme de Menthe-spiked buttercream, and fudgy chocolate ganache are the perfect way to share festive tidings with your friends, while using up some of the Creme de Menthe that seemed like a good idea when you bought it a few years ago (alcohol doesn’t go bad though, right?!).  Don’t worry, it only gets better with age; like bleu cheese.  [Note:  Do not sub bleu cheese for the Creme de Menthe in this recipe.  Trust me on this one.]

The brownie base for these fun treats is a ridiculously simple pudding mix brownie that requires only one bowl and nothing but arm-power to whip together.  The buttercream has only a handful of ingredients, and the ganache needs no double-boiler or fancy equipment.  In other words, the entire recipe is super easy to make, super easy to assemble, and super easy to swallow…literally!

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Just in case you gave up alcohol for Lent, the Creme de Menthe in the buttercream can easily be swapped out for mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring with no love lost.  You can also top these with crushed Thin Mint cookies if you don’t have the Andes pieces; after all, it is Girl Scout cookie season, so why not get the best of both worlds?!

Creme de Menthe Brownies

Easy Pudding Brownies:
2 eggs, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1 (3.56 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix (I like the HERSHEY’S kind)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but highly recommended 
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Creme de Menthe Buttercream:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temp (you can split 50:50 butter:shortening if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Creme de Menthe liqueur (for a family-friendly version, just use 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, with a few drops of green food coloring and 1 tablespoon or so of milk)
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup cream (plain coconut milk coffee creamer also works well here)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao for optimum deep/darkness!)
1/4 cup Andes Creme de Menthe candy pieces
Festive sprinkles, if you’re into that kind of thing
Make brownies:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil, until smooth.  Beat in pudding mix, vanilla, and espresso powder.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing only until all ingredients are combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Scrape out batter into a 9″x 9″ square silicone baking pan (or a glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, lined with parchment paper, and re-sprayed), and smooth into an even layer — pudding mix brownie batter is a bit thicker than regular brownie batter.  Bake for 26-28 minutes, until edges look set and middle is no longer jiggly.  Let cool 30 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on a wire rack.  Cooled, uncut brownies may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and chilled overnight, if desired, otherwise, graduate to the next section once the brownies have cooled COMPLETELY.
Make buttercream:  In the bowl of a standmixer fitter with the balloon whisk attachment, beat the softened butter (or butter and shortening) until smooth and fluffy — you can also do this step just as well with a hand mixer!.  With mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth.  Turn mixer to medium, and beat in Creme de Menthe.  Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until buttercream is SUPER light and SUPER fluffy.  Spread buttercream into an even layer over the brownies, making sure to smear all the way to the edges.  Freeze 20 minutes.
Make ganache:  In a microwave-safe glass bowl or 2-cup measure, zap the cream for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave an additional 20 seconds (should be steaming at this point).  Add chocolate chips directly to the hot cream, and stir vigorously until smooth and glossy, with no chocolate chunks remaining.  [Note:  this is a soft-set ganache; if you want one that sets hard, use 1 cup of chocolate chips]  Pour over chilled buttercream layer, and smooth into an even layer.  Sprinkle with Andes pieces and sprinkles, if desired, and freeze until firm or refrigerate overnight.  Slice into 16 pieces (a little goes a long way), and enjoy!  Store leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days.

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