Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Baked: Grasshopper Bars

My mom used to make a version of these when I was a kid. I think it was a Betty Crocker recipe. Like clockwork, they would make an appearance at every Christmas and St. Patrick's Day celebration. They were a holiday staple, and something I always looked forward to.


Their appearance at holiday functions diminished over the years. They were replaced by the confection of the moment, and it often left me wondering what the heck happened to those yummy mint brownies of my youth?


I had a conversation with my mom about this very question a few years back. We were reminiscing about years gone by, and I asked her what happened to the grasshopper brownies she used to make. She really didn't have a better answer for me than, "Gee, I don't know sweetie."

What? What do you mean you don't know?

Humph!


So, I took it upon myself to recreate the delicious mint brownie I so loved as a kid. With my Mom's  handwritten recipe in tow, I got to work. I was determined to introduce them to my own kids whom I was certain would love them just as much as I did. But, you know what, they just weren't the same. They weren't bad, I mean my kids enjoyed them for sure, but for me they were a little disappointing. They were much sweeter than I remembered and didn't give me the same feeling of sweet satisfaction I used to get after eating one as a kid. Honestly, it made me a little sad, and I suddenly understood why Mom retired them.


Well, you all can relax. I have snapped out of my minty funk, and I am once again excited thanks to the baking dynamos known as Matt & Renato.

Apparently, in their extended absence from the holiday party circuit, the mint brownie went off and had some work done...a face lift so to speak. They came back to town (refreshed and revitalized) as Grasshopper Bars, and let me tell you, these are certainly not my Mamma's version! They are sleek, sophisticated and a little devilish. The rich, dark chocolate and mint combination is sensational on its own, but the addition of the Creme de Menthe puts them on the sinful level....Oh, so good!

If you have a few minutes to spare, check out what my fellow Baked Sunday Morning friends have to say about this recipe. They are a talented group of bakers, and they always provide an interesting read.

If you're feeling especially inspired, grab yourself a copy of Matt & Renato's book, Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, and join us on our baking adventures. We would love to have you.
Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company 

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GRASSHOPPER BARS  
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Makes 12 large or 24 small brownies
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FOR THE BROWNIE BASE
3/4 cus all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa powder
5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 - 72%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cu (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method 
Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.

Configure a large size double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the creme de menthe filling.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM 
3/4 cups sugar 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup whole milk 
2 tablespoons heavy cream 
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes 
3 tablespoons Creme de Menthe 
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Method 
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy.

Add the Creme de Menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined. If the filling is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the proper consistency.

If the filling is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to proper consistency. Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE  
6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped 
1 teaspoon light corn syrup 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes 

Method 
In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat. 

Pour the mixture over the chilled Creme de Menthe layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Note: The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered for up to 4 days.

 

9 comments:

  1. Wow. Yours look stunning. I don't think I've ever had a grasshopper bar, but I'm glad they brought you back to your youth.

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  2. your pics are so amazing! these bars look delish! how did you get your bars cut so cleanly?!

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  3. Oh, such perfectly gorgeous bars -- so sleek and sophisticated indeed! Fabulous job!

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  4. Hi, Jaime! I almost didn't get to leave a comment because I couldn't find your comment section, but I am glad I found it. Your grasshopper bars are just perfect! I tried to hard to cut mine like that, but I just couldn't get a clean cut. Yours are just gorgeous!

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  5. Wow, Jaime! These are absolutely gorgeous! I couldn't get the buttercream to come together, so saved the brownie & ganache to swirl into vanilla ice cream. Enjoy your week!

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  6. I love how beautifully clean cut your bars are, thats probably a weird thing to pick out considering how goddarn yummy they look too! But it appeals to the perfectionist side of me :) your photos really are lovely!

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  7. Great post! I love your writing in this post.

    As always, yours look perfect! I wish I could slice as neatly as you.

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  8. My Aunt Dawn, makes a banging version of this! Makes me miss it a lot!

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  9. Thanks so much everyone for your comments. For those of you wondering how I got my clean cuts, the trick for me was to WARM my knife up over the flame of my stove. hold it above the flame for 2 to three seconds, and that should be plenty. I repeated the process several times to get all the brownies cut.

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