Every year, just after the Thanksgiving holiday, I set aside time to write my holiday cards to friends and family. Inveterate planner that I am, this week generally also marks the start of methodically weeding through the onslaught of cookie recipes I've collected in the weeks prior, as well as re-evaluating old favorites.
The culmination of this activity is one born of tradition: In the years I lived with or near my grandmother, we'd fix up heaping plates of homemade holiday cookies for friends or neighbors. Some were quite homely (and if you ask me, not splendidly flavorful), like a Betty Crocker butter "stocking," while others were so good I quite literally had to be told not to take too many.
I gleefully adopted this tradition of gifting cookies in the past few years, and while the rotation I make for friends, family and coworkers always changes with the whims of the year, one recipe I can never omit are my grandmother's Brownie Mint Chocolate Ganache Bars, whose recipe is below. My husband also insists on buttery, caramel-heavy (and dead simple) Pecan Bars as well.
GRAM'S MINT CHOCOLATE GANACHE BARS
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsifted flour
Mint Cream Filling
- 1 1/2 cups powered sugar
- 3 tablespoons bugger, softened
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 ounces chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
- For the brownie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9x9x2 pan. Next, melt chocolate and butter in a double broiler (or in 15 second increments in a microwave, stirring after each increment) and then allow to cool. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick, adding first the flour and then the chocolate mixture. Stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the mint filling: Beat together all ingredients until smooth; add a drop of green food coloring if desired. Spread filling over the brownie layer and chill until firm, about one hour.
- For the chocolate ganache: Melt chocolate and butter in double broiler (or in 15 second increments in a microwave, stirring after each increment) and immediately stir in vanilla. While moderately warm, spread over frosted brownies. Cover and chill again until firm, then cut into bite-sized squares. Try to have just one, just for me. I dare you.