Part three of my New Year’s Eve food extravaganza (you can see part one here, and part two over here), rich chocolatey brownies with double ganache: white chocolate and crème de menthe, and dark chocolate crème de menthe. Jérôme is a simple man. While I dream of pear and blue cheese tarts, he prefers an all-cheese quiche. I get overly excited about vanilla beans, and want to use them in everything, including this vanilla bean, honey and lemon-zest roasted turkey. He prefers a more traditional bird, one roasted with chestnuts, just like his Mom used to make. While planning my NYE menu, I knew exactly what I wanted. Aside from the aforementioned turkey, I decided on spicy crab cakes with tomato ginger jam, sautéed sunchokes and homemade eggnog. When I told my man what the plan was, he smiled politely. I knew that I would have to go all out for the dessert, and make it traditional-French-boyfriend-friendly.
And what he loves, what he even suggests we make from time to time (which is saying a lot from a man with no apparent sweet tooth), is French chocolate cake. French chocolate cake is more like a brownie, made not with cocoa powder and lots of flour, but with butter, melted dark chocolate and just a spoonful or two of flour. I decided to spice up this classic with a little bit of mint, his other sweet weakness. Of course, throwing in a bit of alcohol with the crème de menthe couldn’t hurt my chances of making a 100% Jérôme-approved dessert.
All I can say is thank you Smitten Kitchen. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a better brownie. It was doubly rich, with both loads of melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder, plus just enough brown sugar to make them utterly decadent. Not to mention the fact that the brownie was topped with not one, but two types of ganache. It was more than amazing, it was probably the best chocolate dessert I’ve had in years (with exception to another rich, ganache-laden chocolate cake, paired this time with peanut butter, that I hope to get up on here soon). Jérôme was under it’s chocolatey spell, and even had seconds, despite all of the other food we stuffed ourselves with that evening.
The moral of the story is, you should definitely make these brownies, and as soon as possible. But you should probably plan on making them for a household full of people, because if you don’t, you’ll definitely finish the entire pan in record-time.
Rich chocolate brownies with mint white chocolate and dark chocolate ganaches
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen: Grasshopper brownies
For the brownie layer
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 bars of bittersweet baking chocolate
1 1/2 C brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 C flour
1/4 C cocoa powder
3/4 t salt
Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish and preheat the oven to 375°. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and add the eggs and vanilla, whisking to incorporate. Finally, add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until just combined. Pour into the buttered baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Let the brownies cool while you make the ganaches.
For the mint ganache
4 T crème de menthe (this is one of the rare changes I made to the recipe, but only out of necessity; the original called for both crème de menthe and peppermint extract, and was made with only the extract. I actually couldn’t find any peppermint extract, so mine was made using only the crème de menthe, which I added to both ganaches to kick up the minty goodness)
1/3 C heavy cream
1 bar of high quality white baking chocolate
Heat the cream over low heat until it begins to simmer. Add the white chocolate, broken into small pieces and whisk gently until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add the crème de menthe, stirring well. Refrigerate.
For the dark chocolate ganache
1 T crème de menthe
1/3 C heavy cream
1/2 bar of bittersweet baking chocolate
Heat the cream over low heat until it begins to simmer. Add the chocolate, broken into small pieces and whisk gently until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add the crème de menthe, stirring well. Refrigerate.
Now you assemble! I found that the white chocolate ganache was much thinner than the dark chocolate ganache (because of the added crème de menthe) and made the mistake of applying this to my brownie layer first. If you follow my version of the recipe, apply the dark chocolate ganache first, smoothing with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes, until the ganache is set. Then add the mint ganache and refrigerate another 30 minutes or so, although this one never firmed up all that much for me. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.