Monday, October 10, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate Mint Sticks


Page 80 in the old book / page 126 in the new book

I thought these were fantastic, but not everyone agreed with me. If there's one thing I've learned in my cookie project thus far, it's that people may be open to trying all kinds of new cookies, but don't mess with their brownies! More than any other cookie, people seem to have strong opinions on what is and is not acceptable in a brownie. This week's cookie is a basic brownie recipe topped with a thin peppermint icing and a bitter chocolate glaze, a combination that proved to be surprisingly controversial.

The base for this cookie was nearly identical to the All-American Brownie from a few weeks ago. The differences in the recipe were in technique rather than ingredients, and I assume the objective was to obtain a firmer and/or cakier brownie. The eggs are beaten, the dough is spread more thinly in a slightly larger pan, and the brownies are baked a few minutes longer. The brownies still come out moist and fudgy, just not to the same degree as the others.

This cookie has a great base, but what really makes it special are the toppings - a very thin layer of mint icing and then a thin layer of bitter chocolate glaze. The bitter chocolate glaze is simply melted unsweetened chocolate and butter mixed together. I was surprised that an unsweetened icing was used, but it works. Actually, it's brilliant. The two toppings create a perfect balance of sweetness. The use of very thin layers of both toppings is perfect and shows admirable restraint. This is a recipe I will certainly make again and again.

I thought chocolate and mint was a universally liked flavor pairing, but turns out I was wrong...

Suzanne: "I'm really not fond of chocolate and mint together. I also prefer a brownie without icing. I tasted the icing and mint flavor over the brownie. Since it was chocolate I'm rating this as a 3.5. Rating - 3.5"

Terri: "These are rich brownies with the perfect icing combination - bitter chocolate glaze with peppermint. The walnuts add just the right amount of "crunchiness". One doesn't need more than 2 at a time! Although it's hard to stop eating this great brownie. My favorite in this book. Rating - 5.0"

Laura: "I like mint, I like chocolate, I like walnuts. However, I don't really care for mint and frosting in my brownies. Tasty Mint Chocolate Sticks, but not my thing. Rating - 3.0"

Phil: "Poorly named, but otherwise a delightful and attractive surprise. While this palate is not usually stirred by mint, pleasantly surprised to discover what a nudge of mint can do to enliven the taste buds to another delectable brownie. Rating - 4.7"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.1

Next week - Dutch Chocolate Bars

Nutrition Facts

16 comments:

Niki said...

I used to think I didn't like chocolate and mint combinations, but I've changed my tune recently. Dark chocolate and mint are spectacular: I agree entirely with Phil's sentiments. I looked at this recipe when I had my Altoid project going, and thought it looked good.
I wonder if the inclusion of walnuts is a bit much? Like making the recipe very 'noisy'. I wonder if it was just the brownie and the mint flavour whether people would have taken to them a bit more?
Am very tempted to try it now, although top of my list is the Dutch Chocolate bars you're doing next week. I'm going to hold off until you make them, and see what they're like. A. is pushing for the chocolate pineapple slice later in the chapter; not a taste combination that grabs me...

Cathy said...

Hi Niki! I bet you could have used the Altoids in the icing for these. When I first read through the recipe I thought it was a little strange that these had nuts along with the mint, but it wasn't something that jumped out as too much when I ate one. No one else commented on it, so I don't know. I agree, though, it's tempting to try them without the nuts.

I made the Dutch Chocolate bars once before, but don't remember them. I have a note in the book, though - "Very sweet. John likes these." (John is my brother) Yeah, those pineapple squares are hard to imagine.

Alice said...

These sound superb...I love chocolate and mint!! Mint Chocolate Chip is one of the best ice cream flavors ever!! I will definitely give these a try.

Cathy said...

Hi Alice - oh they were! At least I thought so... but I'm a huge fan of York Peppermint Patties and I'm just discovering that not everyone else in the world is!

Nic said...

I'm a big chocolate+mint fan, but I know many people who don't like it and a few who loathe it. One guy gets nautious at the very thought! Shocking, really. But I think I'll try these. For me, they sound delicious!

Cathy said...

Hi Nic! I certainly have my food hang-ups, but I don't get this one. Phil was out the day I brought the cookies in, so the next day when he saw me he said something like "do I have to?" in regards to tasting one of the cookies. His explanation was that men don't like chocolate and mint, but turned out he did like it and Suzanne and Laura didn't! Go figure.

Ana said...

Hi!
My name is Ana! I like your blog and frequently come to visit, especialy on Mondays! I love chocolate and am liking the brownies section of Maida's book a lot! Today's brownies look great, and although I am a fan of mint and chocolate together I guess for my brownies I would stick with the fudy ones from last week!
Come visit my food blog! See you!
Ana

Cathy said...

Hi Ana - thanks! I've been enjoying the brownies too. I stopped by your blog and it's great - have fun with it!

J said...

hi cathy, those look divine - lush, moist, and bursting with chocolate flavour...chocolate lovers are apparently divided into two camps - mint lovers and those who dislike the combination...

Cathy said...

Hi Jocelyn! Gosh, sounds like you ate one... ;) Regarding the two camps - guess that means there'll be more for our camp!

Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

You know, as I was looking through the book, I noticed that there are quite a few "base" recipes with several variations on each base. Kind of reminds me of ice cream from Cold Stone -- take a base flavor, combine your mix-ins (or add-ins), then the resulting flavor is something new and different.

That said, these look really good. I'm wondering if you can add some mint extract to this to make it a bit more minty....hmmm. Something for me to consider.

Cathy said...

Hi Reid! I'd advise you try these as written first - you may find that mint icing provides all the mintiness you need. It certainly gives the sense that the whole mouthful is mint flavored!

Nic said...

Hi Cathy. I just made these last night (snuck in a taste with breakfast) and they're great! I don't think I would have made them if I hadn't seen your positive review of them here. Very minty, good texture in the base. Yum!

Cathy said...

Hi Nic - glad you liked them! They're definitely one that I plan to make again.

Jim Online said...

I thought of it as an interesting post. In my experience, experimenting on cookies is a common thing. Once, I was with my mom in a cook show and cookies was the main attraction. I was surprised that after the baking, even the weirdest cookies tasted good. I guess it is really different once you cook with motivation.

xian said...

I made these a few years back. I cut the nuts for the very reasons that some have mentioned. They turned out great. The "coolness" of the mint really complements the unsweetened chocolate glaze. The melty quality of the top layers is also a big plus. I've since used the glaze on a number of other bar cookies.

As for the "no icing on my brownies" haters, just don't think of them as
"brownies".