Monday, 21 March 2011

Chocolate-mint slice

Maida knows her brownies. She is famous for carrying around cellophane-wrapped brownies in her handbag and giving them out to all and sundry.

That’s very very cool, in my view. I could do that, maybe on the 86 tram or at the pub, but I would need to learn to remember they were there. My bag’s a black hole of forgotten stuff. Such as the salted duck egg I bought on Saturday at Minh Phat and placed carefully in my shoulder bag so it wouldn’t break, instead of chucking it in the green bag to be jostled by everything else. Well, out of sight, out of mind, that’s all I can say about that little episode. (Okay then, so maybe it surfaced when I was looking for a pen during tonight’s French class, which consists of six trés elegant women who are pretty much French, and a trés elegant teacher who is totally French, and me sitting there with my egg like a character from some lesser slapstick. Mais alors, this is not a post about preserved eggs – that unalloyed pleasure must wait for another day – so back on topic.)

This is called Chocolate Mint Sticks, really, but it’s in the brownie section of Maida’s Book of Great Cookies, and is more like a slice for us. I’m resisting the endangerment of sloice’ falling victim by creeping USing to brownie or bar cookie or what-have-you. 

60g darkest chocolate (I used 70.4% Callebaut Strong)
115g butter
2 eggs
pinch salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar, white or raw
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
½ roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 9" square cake tin or equivalent rectangle with baking paper, unless it’s silicon.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler if you have one, or I did it in 20-second bursts in the microwave with brief stirs in between until smooth. Leave to cool slightly.

Beat eggs until foamy, then add salt, vanilla and sugar. Add the cooling chocolate mixture – still-warmish is okay – and beat to mix. On low speed, add flour bit by bit until it’s all just incorporated, no need to overmix. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour into the cake tin and smooth evenly. Bake for 28 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Leave in pan at room temperature until cool.*

Time to get on with the mint layer.

30g butter, room temperature
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tablespoon cream
½ teaspoon peppermint extract – or I used 12 drops essential oil of peppermint**

Beat all ingredients until smooth. You might need a tiny bit more cream, but it should be a fairly thick mixture, not runny.

Spread in a thin layer over the cooled cake, still in the pan. Place in the fridge for no longer than 5 minutes – Maida says. No idea why, but I’m not arguing. Meanwhile, on with the glaze.

30g bittersweet dark chocolate
15g butter

Melt together by microwave, stove with double boiler, as you like it, until smooth.

Pour the hot glaze over the chilled mint layer and quickly tilt it to cover completely – it’ll be a very thin layer. Refrigerate or freeze – Maida suggests serving directly from the freezer, in fact.

I was not expecting it to taste exactly like an Arnott’s Mint Slice. This is not a bad thing, though it’s many years since I would arrive home from school and polish off half an unattended packet.

(Oh, I need to lie down. In gathering for you the above pic from Google Images, the things I did see. There are people are out there recreating their favourite trashy biscuit, under the mission of the Arnott’s Challenge, or just pimping them for fun! O brave new world, that has such people in’t! What would you, dear reader, like recreated?)

*Yes, do wait for it to cool completely, take it from your chastened Macarong. If impatient to get it done because work or gym or bed calls, resist rushing it. If the cake is still warmish, the mint layer neither spreads easily – it sort of melts slightly on contact – nor chills enough in the five minutes to stay put when tilting the warm melted chocolate over the top. See? Exactly the special marbled effect I was aiming for…

**This almost caused my little brain to melt. So: use only one part essential oil to four parts extract. Hence 1/8 teaspoon essential oil=oh, impossible to measure that. Okay, let’s try another tack: 20 drops essential oil =1 mL. 5 mL= 1 teaspoon, so 1/8 teaspoon=0.6 mL or 12 drops. There. It was plenty of peppermint.

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