I asked around earlier this week trying to decide if I should blog failures or dishes that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about. I got lots of different opinions, and what I finally decided was that yes I would blog about them if there was a point to the entry other than the dish. In the case of the Bittman Bean Burgers, for example, I wanted to share the base recipe and also I wanted to share my journey toward cooking more vegetarian meals. I was not sure if there was a point to this latest dessert since I had some trouble with it, so I had decided not to tell you all about it. The only thing is—we ate it all. Totally finished the pan. Not in one day of course, that would be pretty scary, but we finished it in 3 days or so. Well that tells me that the recipe is worth sharing, so today I offer up a quasi success in the hopes that someone out there has an idea of how to improve on the dish.
This recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book, another holiday acquisition. I love cookie books—cookie cookbooks and chocolate cookbooks are far and away my favorite types of dessert cookbooks. My daughters and I treat them like food porn—we look through them together, announcing which ones sound good. Alex of course thinks they all sound good and after each entry she very solemnly announces that she LIKES [insert long and complicated name here] cookies!, whether or not she has ever tried them. So the other day we decided to make BHG’s Chocolate Mint Bars.
This is a bar cookie (obviously) consisting of 3 layers—a bottom cookie bar layer, a layer of mint chocolate and a top layer of the same dough dotted for a streusel effect. Well I am positive I measured everything correctly, and there was just an absurd amount of the mint chocolate “sauce” to spread—it ended up bubbling up and sinking inbetween the cookie edges and the pan and soaking the underside of the cookies. Of course there are worse things than soaked mint chocolate cookies, which is probably why the cookies were still a success-and why I will make them again and try to tinker a bit. However, when I say we ate the whole pan I should clarify that I had to cut and discard the outer 2 inches because the bubbled chocolate solidified—and the sweetened condensed milk in it caused it to totally harden past saving. The other problem was that the “streusel” which looked so nice and crumbly in their picture, totally spread like a cookie on a too-buttered sheet into very flat blobs of topping—which made it look kind of confused. Josie and I talked about it (what do you think?) and we theorized that perhaps the recipe either did not call for enough flour or I had not measured my flour to come up with the same weight of flour that they had (always a problem when books only give volume measurements—I really wish ALL baking books gave weight measurements also). After all, their dough’s ratio of fat to flour was comparable to a chocolate chip cookie ratio, in which case I would not really expect chocolate chip cookie dough to not spread. And I am not sure how the mint chocolate filling excess affected it either. The last theory is that maybe I should not have left out the walnuts—but I have to say I am sad if that is the problem because I am not sure how I feel about mint and nuts together. But nonetheless, because they were just that good I present to you the chocolate mint bars—and I apologize for my lack of pictures but first I resolved to not post about them, and then, by the time I changed my mind, well, we had eaten all of them!
Chocolate Mint Bars
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 t vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups AP flour
1 ½ cups mint chocolate chips or pieces
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
½ cup chopped walnuts (I omitted)
1 t vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can by mixer and add the rest by hand (this last one confused me—granted I have the Kitchen Aid Professional, but it handled all of the flour easily).
2. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine chocolate pieces and condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts and vanilla.
3. Press about two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Spread with filling. Dot remaining dough over the filling. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 36 bars.
*Note: If desired, substitute semisweet chocolate pieces for the mint-flavor chocolate pieces and add 1/4 teaspoon mint flavoring with the vanilla.
To Store: Place cookies in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container.
I am taking the kids and going to see my parents for a few days—which has the added bonus of letting John gets lots of work done, so I will be absent from the blog until later this week.