To meet Jessa is to love her. We happened to meet her the first year we went to RomCon. She has since become a great friend to us here. Now if you follow Jessa on twitter you know that she loves chocolate. So when she shared her holiday recipe complete with picture I almost licked my phone. These are so good I’m just going to turn this over to her.
I’m a lazy holiday baker. Or maybe I’m being unfair to myself; I’m a BUSY holiday baker. Everybody’s busy, right? So here’s my lazy/busy baker best.
One box of Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix: Yes, it’s a box! Remember, we’re busy. Plus, once you dress it up, nobody will notice it’s from a box. Other box mixes would probably work, but I like the Duncan Hines because it’s usually 99 cents at my store. Also, it makes a 13×9 pan which is better than an 8×8 pan by about… uh, I can’t do the math because I’m too busy. Make the brownies following the directions for “more fudge-like brownies” which take only 2 eggs instead of 3. (Thus saving time AND money!) Make sure not to over-bake; dry brownies are a drag and a little gooey is good.
For added chocolateyness, I sometimes mix in Nestle Toll House mini chocolate chips. Totally unnecessary, except when isn’t more chocolate necessary? I use the mini chips because big chips or chunks can overwhelm the batter.
Once the brownies are baked and completely cool, you add the creamy minty layer.
3 tablespoons of softened butter*
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar**
1 teaspoon of real mint extract*
2 tablespoons of milk
* Get good ingredients. Not margarine, not mint “flavored.” I know, I know, it’s a box mix; but to disguise the boxiness, you need the extra oomph of good quality additives.
** A lot of recipes that use powdered sugar say you should sift it first to get out the lumps. Whatever! We’re busy!
Use a hand blender to mix all ingredients into a creamy frosting consistency. Add extra sugar or milk to thicken or thin the mix as
needed. Spread in an even layer over the cooled brownies. Put pan in refrigerator so the mint layer gets a bit of a crust on it. While the
mint layer is hardening, make the chocolate layer.
Melt together 1/2 cup of chocolate chips/chunks/bars* and 2
tablespoons of butter.
* I really like the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% Dark. You get a lot of chocolate — decent quality and not too sweet, which is a good
contrast to the sweet brownie and mint layer — for a respectable price. It’s scored into squares so it’s easy to break and melt. And
Let the melted choco mix cool a little bit, then spread on the minted brownie. Be careful when you spread the chocolate; its warmth will
soften the mint layer and you don’t want to mingle the layers. Once the chocolate layer has hardened a bit, just cut into squares and
*If you want to get fancy and festive, you can mix up another batch of the mint layer, and use a cake decorator bag, poultry injector, etc. to pipe decorations on the top of the brownies. The sugar layer sets up crusty and holds its shape fairly well. Or use chocolate curls,
those are fun too.
I find there is sometimes not enough chocolate at Thanksgiving and Christmas because everybody is focused on the pumpkin and pecan, eggnog and ginger. But in the middle of the earthy tones of the holiday table, these little dark and light mint brownies squares look quite elegant.
Favorite holiday story:
“The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen
And this is one time when you need to read either in hard copy or on a big color tablet because you MUST read the story from the book STORIES FROM HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY EDMUND DULAC. In this case, it was as much the beautiful images from Dulac as the story that delighted me as a child.
But the story itself is wonderful for the winter season. From the imagery of the swirling hoar frost to the northern adventures of a
brave girl, it was everything perfect for reading to myself on a snowy night in Chicago waiting for hot cocoa and Christmas morning!