Millionaire bars are excellent but I think I may have just found something that tops them!
My husband brought back a copy of Food and Travel from the UK recently. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t read it because I did a two month-long internship there just after I completed Leiths, and it left me a little out of love with the magazine business. However, it’s quite a clever business idea because as a magazine it looks slick and together, with fabulous food styling but in reality – the pictures of the food are usually given to them by either the book publishers or various tourist offices / restaurants. On a good day I would struggle to count 5 people in that office!
I sat down and had my obligatory flip through. These Grasshopper bars immediately leapt off the page! Hello! Have you ever tried Girl Scout Thin Mints? They were extremely hard to come by in Greece as there weren’t too many girl scouts around plying their trade but when I found them, I bought the lot. Mint and chocolate, they just play of each other so well! And how can you find fault with a spongy brownie, topped with the lightest mint cream and a glossy chocolate hat? I had 1 for breakfast then another for tea. I walked 5 hours in a blustery 4ºC today just so I can justify having another one after dinner tonight.
All that being said, there are are quite a few steps to this recipe. Most are easy and it’s just a matter of reading through the recipe beforehand. Some like beating the creme patissiere until it cools down and beating in the butter to make a fluffy icing are simple if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer but I imagine would be a royal pain in the butt if you had to use a hand held mixer. Also you have to have peppermint extract, creme de menthe and liquid glucose, the latter of which I still have from my Melrose and Morgan days but I am sure you can find here in Berlin. Oh and there is the small matter that if you make the full recipe it calls for 390g of butter and 300g of dark chocolate!
Which is why I made half the recipe – which meant I had to use one and a half eggs, which is not as annoying as you would think (I added the left over half to another egg and had an egg sandwich). That still made enough to give to a friend and have plenty left over for us. The recipe is taken from a book called Baked: Explorations which I ordered the minute I tasted these babies!
I really recommend you make these when you want to impress the pants off someone. Make sure not to find yourself alone in your apartment with them because you might eat the lot.
Grasshopper Bars – THIS IS THE FULL RECIPE – (I made half_
(Makes 12 large or 24 small brownies)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
125g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
110g butter, cut into 2.5 cm cubes
150g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the buttercream filling
150g caster sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons double cream
170g butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons creme de menthe
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
For the chocolate glaze
175g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon liquid glucose
110g unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Butter a glass dish or light coloured metal tin, measuring 25 x 30cm. Line the bottom with a sheet of buttered baking parchment.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.
3. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (note, make sure the bowl does not actually touch the water!) and stir occasionally until the chocolate and the butter are completely melted and combined.
4. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the water and add both sugars. whisk the sugars until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.
5. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature.
6. Add the 3 eggs to the butter chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
7. Sprinkle the flour mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (not a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour mix visible.
8. Pour the batter into the dish. Smooth the top and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. the brownies should be a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, a minute away from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs.
9. Remove the brownies from the oven and leave to cool while you make the filling.
10. To make the buttercream, whisk the sugar and flour together in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. add the milk and cream and cook over a medium heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened.
11. Transfer to a mixing bowl and beat on high speed with a food mixer until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a few pieces at a time: mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the filling is light and fluffy. Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined.
12. Spread the filling evenly across the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.
13. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate, liquid glucose 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. Pour the mixture over the chilled crème de menthe layer and spread evenly. Rest in the refrigerator until the glaze hardens slightly, then cut into squares with a warm knife.