Mint Grasshopper Brownies

For my first two years of college I lived on campus, which meant living off dining hall food. For the most part this was just fine because we had unlimited eating and entries, and a pretty wide variety of things to eat. I’ll admit some things were less edible than others and the menu got very repetitive after a while, but overall it was great. There are definitely days where I wish someone else was in charge of what I eat for dinner. (Excepting dessert I am a pretty lazy cook, if you’re new here.)

Grasshopper Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}In any case, one thing they did great was dessert. In particular, mint brownies. These were hands down the favorite of M and he used to watch the menu for Mint Brownie Day (as he called it) so he could be sure to have as many as possible. I will admit they were quite delicious even though I’m not normally a fan of frosted brownies.

I have since tried several recipes in an attempt to recreate them, and while I’ve not been 100% successful, this recipe is pretty dang good. Chocolatey brownie, creamy mint, shiny ganache, and best of all: no melting anything on the stove. I’m very lazy when it comes to brownies because there’s really nothing that beats the Ghirardelli box mixes in taste, texture, or convenience. But I decided to do the from-scratch thing on a whim because it’s good to remind myself I can actually make brownies for real.

Grasshopper Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}The first recipe I tried was kind of a pain in the butt. All three pieces required melting chocolate and/or butter on the stove and, well, ain’t nobody got time for that. The mint filling was also a bit less dense than I was looking for so I decided to try a new recipe. (The brownie portion was, however, extremely delicious when frozen so if you’re in a mood for melting chocolate, head on over to Love and Olive Oil.)

Grasshopper Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}Two weeks later, after searching Pinterest high and low, I Frankensteined together my own recipe from three separate ones. Dense chocolatey brownie, creamy mint frosting, and that same shiny ganache come together in a delightful combination with no stove required. The lazy baker in me is thrilled about that last bit.

Below find the recipes for each layer with my adaptations. These freeze great so make a batch, pop in the freezer, and enjoy at your leisure. They are pretty rich so likely they’ll last you awhile, but I certainly won’t judge you if they don’t.

Grasshopper Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}Grasshopper Brownies

Adapted from Your Cup of Cake (brownie), How Sweet Eats (mint filling), and Love and Olive Oil (ganache)
Makes 16 brownies (8×8 pan)

Ingredients

Brownies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Mint Filling
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp Crème de menthe

Chocolate Ganache
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Directions

  1. For the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir together on low until well combined.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each one. Mixture should be pretty smooth.
  4. Add flour and salt and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.
  5. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, checking a few minutes early to make sure they don’t over bake. A toothpick should come out a teensy bit wet.
  6. Let brownies cool completely before frosting.
  7. For the mint filling: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. Mix until completely combined and fluffy.
  8. Add desired amount of Creme de menthe, mixing well on high speed each time. Filling should be fluffy and somewhat lightened in color when it’s ready (this will take a minute or two).
  9. Spread on top of cooled brownies and place in the freezer while you make the chocolate ganache.
  10. For the ganache: Put chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, heat for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat 3x or until mixture is completely smooth.
  11. Pour chocolate topping over the mint frosting and gently tilt the dish to coat entirely. Let sit on the counter (or in the freezer) until chocolate has set. Cut and serve immediately or cover and return to the freezer for storage.
  12. For pretty slices: Gently cut forward and back until you are through the ganache, then press firmly down, wiping off the knife if anything sticks to it. This will prevent the chocolate from cracking. Photography tip: Pick up from the sides to avoid fingerprints.

Chocolate Irish Car Bomb Sundae

Oh yeah, you read that title right. Irish Car Bomb Sundae. Mixing alcohol and ice cream like a pro. If you’ve been reading awhile, you know that alcoholic ice cream isn’t a new thing here (Baileys and chocolate ‎Kahlúa have both made appearances) but this, this takes it to a whole new level. Note: if you don’t want the whole back story, skip the next four paragraphs.

Whilst planning my baking adventures Sunday morning, I realized we were getting quite close to St. Patrick’s Day. And due to this planning fail, I also realized yesterday was my last usual posting day before the holiday. The mint brownies I had planned would work, true, but I wanted something a bit more festive, a bit less overdone. In my head, Guinness is the most quintessential St. Patty’s Day beverage, making the Irish Car Bomb the most quintessential (although not very politically correct) cocktail of the day. Personally I’m not a fan of Guinness, and anything that curdles while you’re drinking just sounds like a terrible idea, but I’d seen ICB-inspired desserts before that sounded awesome, like cake and donuts. That’s when it hit me: ice cream!

Guinness Chocolate Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Two years ago a delightful coworker and friend made the team Guinness chocolate milkshakes. (At work. Before 11am. It was awesome.) Even as someone who doesn’t care for Guinness, I found them delicious. And so, the chocolate ICB sundae began to take shape. Guinness chocolate ice cream, of course, Baileys whipped cream, of course, but how to work in the whiskey? It was a terrible dilemma to be sure. Coincidentally, an entirely different friend posted recently about making whiskey dulce de leche. Whiskey caramel it is!

Whiskey Caramel Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

Unfortunately, it was after 11am on Sunday when I had this revelation and so there was not enough time to create this concoction before my usual Monday post schedule. Be that as it may, I made the brownies, walked to the store for Guinness (twice, due to forgetting my ID the first time), and began the journey towards bliss.

Modifying my chocolate ice cream recipe was easy enough, so I got that into the freezer between brownie layers and cleaning and searching for whiskey caramel recipes. Having never actually made caramel before I was a bit nervous, but figured now was as good a time as any to give it a try. After finding a recipe and checking my cupboards for the ingredients (we only had Scottish whisky but…shhh. I’m sorry Colby.), I filed it away to make the next day. Normally I rarely do blog things after work, because I’m tired and hungry and just generally more of a mid-afternoon baker. However, my sheer excitement about this recipe resulted not only in making the remaining layers, but photographing everything and writing this post all in the same evening. Phew. But it’s worth it, oh so worth it.

Chocolate Irish Car Bomb Sundae {{Baking Bytes}}

Smooth and creamy chocolate ice cream accented by the unmistakable flavor of Guinness beer, topped with a relatively light Baileys whipped cream, and drizzled with a caramel brilliantly highlighted with whiskey. None of the flavors are individually overwhelming and they all combine together in sundae perfection. Not a dessert for the fainthearted, a small portion goes a long way. I wouldn’t personally eat the amount shown in my photos, for what it’s worth.

All three recipes are easy-peasy and come together quickly, minus chilling time. Very beginner friendly but fun for an experienced cook as well, and also extremely delicious. Which, let’s face it, that’s really the important aspect here. They are also easy to adjust to taste. Feel free to adjust the cocoa powder or Guinness a bit, and use more or less Baileys in the whipped cream. I can’t vouch for how adjusting the whiskey in the caramel would work, but I expect it would be just fine to add a little more or less. It is not super pronounced, which I felt was perfect. I made only a half batch of the original caramel recipe, so double mine if you want lots of leftovers or you’re feeding a crowd.

Chocolate Irish Car Bomb Sundae {{Baking Bytes}}

Need I say more? Really, the photos speak for themselves. I’m not even sure why you’re still reading instead of out shopping for ingredients.

Chocolate Irish Car Bomb Sundae {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking to impress yourself (or I guess some other people) for a St. Patrick’s Day party this year, look no further. Below, find the recipes for Guinness chocolate ice cream, Baileys whipped cream, whiskey caramel sauce, and instructions for the Irish Car Bomb sundae. Make one, make them all. Anything here is a great addition to any evening, but the trifecta is sure to wow.

And if you’re curious, the mint brownies will be up here next Monday, March 16th.

Guinness Chocolate Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Guinness Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Guinness beer
1/2 cup half & half
1 cup sugar
1/4 – 1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined and smooth.
  2. Place mixture in the fridge until completely chilled (temp should be less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  3. Chill a glass or other freezer-safe, lidded bowl in the freezer while you churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  4. Transfer ice cream to bowl and return to the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving. (Freezer time is not optional with this recipe.)

Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Baileys Whipped Cream

Adapted from The Cupcake Project
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Baileys Irish cream liqueur

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer (whisk attachment for a stand mixer) beat the cream and sugar until very soft peaks form.
  2. Gently stir in the Baileys until just incorporated.
  3. Continue beating the cream until soft-medium peaks form (or whatever consistency you like).
  4. Serve immediately, storing leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Whiskey Caramel Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Borrowed from Epicurious
Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water

3 Tbsp Irish whiskey
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt

Directions

  1. In a small or medium heavy saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Boil without stirring until syrup begins to look golden, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until color deepens to a rich caramel color. (It make crystallize somewhat during steps 2-3, that’s normal.)
  4. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Mixture will splatter so be careful! If the caramel has hardened, return to heat briefly.
  5. Stir caramel until it is smooth and of even color, allowing to cool for a few minutes before serving. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge and reheat in the microwave in very small time increments – it is quick to boil over.

Chocolate Irish Car Bomb Sundae {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Irish Car Bomb Sundae

Ingredients

Guinness Chocolate Ice Cream
Baileys Whipped Cream
Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Directions

  1. Swirl caramel sauce on the inside of a glass or bowl. (optional)
  2. Scoop in desired amount of ice cream, top with whipped cream, and swirl additional caramel sauce over the whole shebang.
  3. Enjoy immediately and try not to enter a sugar coma.

Champagne Layer Cake

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you cherished or survived your Valentine’s Day, depending on where you stand with the so-called holiday. My anniversary with M happens to fall on this overly Hallmarked date and on that Saturday we celebrated six years together. We celebrated with a bike ride given the ridiculous lack of winter but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. M makes dinner (usually Swedish meatballs; yum) and I make a layer cake.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ve made chocolate and raspberry and peanut butter and chocolate, as well as other delicacies not featured on this blog, and all were very delicious. This year, however, I was looking for something different. I perused Pinterest and implored the masses on Facebook, and happened across a scrumptious-sounding champagne cupcake on Sprinkle Bakes. Obviously I was looking to build a layer cake and not cupcakes, but the recipe looked easily adaptable. Just in case, I questioned Heather, the brilliant author of SB. Not only is she a brilliant blogger, but she’s a delightful person and promptly assuaged my very minimal doubts. Next step: buy champagne!

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I chose a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato Champagne, because I like Barefoot wine and a sweet champagne seemed like a solid plan. As a bonus, the reduced champagne in the frosting tinted it a very pale pink which I felt was appropriate given the occasion. Although it seems like a lot of steps, each part of this cake came together easily and could definitely stand on its own. Together, however, they create a supremely champagne experience without feeling like you’re getting drunk off dessert. (Not that getting drunk off dessert is necessarily a bad thing. Pudding shots, amiright?)

Despite having nearly the entire bottle within the various pieces, it’s still a fairly light cake. The taste of champagne is definitely prominent but not overwhelming, and I felt it was a welcome change to the usual chocolate confections. I think M was a little disappointed it’s not the kind of cake you pair with ice cream, but I promised to make it up to him on his birthday.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

A soft crumb and a custard filling enveloped in a fluffy frosting make for a textural dream in addition to the totally different but amazing flavor. It would be an especially lovely ending for a dinner party if you’re a classy folk but would be great for any special occasion. If you’re looking to switch it up from all the usual flavors, this is the cake for you.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cake

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes one 9″ cake

Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream
1 cup champagne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (Butter and flour the paper as well).
  2. Cream  together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each one. Mix in vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream. Mixture will be fizzy.
  6. Starting and ending with the flour, alternate adding it and the sour cream mixture to the stand mixer. Batter will be thick.
  7. Divide evenly between prepared cake pans (about 3.5 cups of batter per pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cake will brown but that’s okay! Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Freeze completely cooled cake layers for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cream Filling

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup champagne
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg + 2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, champagne, and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high then remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup heavy cream and cornstarch, then mix in the eggs and egg yolks.
  3. Slowly stream in one third of the hot champagne mixture, whisking constantly so the egg doesn’t cook.
  4. Bring the remaining champagne and heavy cream mixture to a boil again, then stream in the egg mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Buttercream Frosting

Makes just enough for one 9″ double-layer cake

Ingredients

1 cup champagne

1 cup butter, room temp
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp champagne

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce 1 cup of champagne to 2 tablespoon. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixture and mix briefly by hand to incorporate the sugar.
  3. Cream together with the whisk attachment until mixture is well combined and fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice as necessary.
  4. Mix in reduced champagne and additional tablespoon of champagne from the bottle.

Assembly Instructions

Ingredients

2 champagne cake layers
1 batch champagne filling
1 batch champagne buttercream frosting

Directions

  1. Prepare a cake board, trimming if necessary.
  2. Level cake layers. Place a small amount of frosting on the cake board and gently press one cake layer on top.
  3. Evenly spread desired amount of filling on the cake (I used the whole batch), then gently press the second layer on top (cut side down) making sure it’s level. Then use a spatula (or your finger) to ensure the edges are smooth.
  4. Spread and/or pipe the frosting on the cake, and decorate as desired.

Notes

This was barely enough frosting to spread on the cake. If you intend to do any piping or you like a lot of frosting, I recommend making 1.5 batches.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Hello friends, hope you’ve successfully made the switch to February. Bozeman leaped right passed it into April as we continue to have weather in the 50’s. As someone who actually enjoys winter, and skiing, and cold-weather running, I find this very depressing. I also am hoping this does not mean we have a hellish summer ahead of us or I think I’ll move back to Alaska for July.

In any case, cookies. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Pinterest and the rest of the internet has been overrun with pink and chocolate. I decided to ignore all of these things and make something completely different this weekend.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

These cookies are soft and have a wonderful brown sugar flavor spiced with cinnamon. Kind of a cross between snickerdoodles and gingersnaps, they are a simple pleasure and a delightful treat for any time of year. They do require a couple hours of chilling, but I expect I’ll be making these pretty often in spite of that. Bonus: for those of you without a stand mixer, these cookies are mixed by hand – no electricity required.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for dark brown sugar but I only had light on hand. They are delicious regardless but I imagine they’d be extra flavorful if you’ve got the dark option lying around.

As a fall or winter refreshment these go great with coffee or hot chocolate. If you’re looking to cool them down for summer activities, they are awesome as ice cream cookie sandwiches. Just put a scoop of softened ice cream on a cookie, and press another cookie on top until the ice cream is spread out to the side. Serve immediately or store in the freezer, but pull them out a few minutes early before serving. Yum!

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 22 cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (I used a whole tsp)
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg, room temp
2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp white sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar until completely combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry and use a rubber spatula to stir until completely mixed. Dough will be wet and soft but should be thick. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Pour 2 Tbsp sugar into a bowl or deep plate. After dough has chilled, roll 2 Tbsp dough into a ball, then roll in the sugar to coat. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Return dough balls to the refrigerator, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and line baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
  6. Bake cookies for 12-16 minutes. They will look soft and puffy but should not look super wet in the cracks. For extra soft cookies, use the lower end of the range; for a slight crunch on the outside, use the upper end.
  7. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  8. Cookies stay soft for several days in an airtight container on the counter…assuming you haven’t eaten them all already.

Notes

To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, place it in a cup of warm water for 5-10 minutes.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins {{Baking Bytes}}Hello hello. Hope your year is going splendidly. So far January has been pretty good and I’m looking forward to February. Hopefully winter will come back as our ski area could definitely use some more snow. But it’s open so I’m not complaining too much. Last week I ran in shorts which is a little strange for January in Montana, so I wouldn’t mind if it cooled down a bit.

Apple cinnamon muffins with crumb topping

Apple cinnamon muffins with crumb topping

In any case, I’ve been in an apple mood the last couple weeks and while I was deciding what to make I recalled the muffins I made during a semester abroad in Scotland. All I could remember is that the recipe was on allrecipes.com and there was a crazy amount of apple in it. And it took forever to chop it all by hand. After some dedicated searching, some slight modifications, and two batches of muffins, I have the recipe here to share.

Apple cinnamon muffins with raw sugar topping

Apple cinnamon muffins with raw sugar topping

These muffins are moist and bursting with apples. A sweet topping (if you want) and the addition of cinnamon make these a lovely treat or breakfast for any time of the year. Chopping the apples will be very quick if you employ the use of a corer/peeler contraption, but even by hand it’s definitely worth the effort.

Apple cinnamon muffins sans topping.

Apple cinnamon muffins sans topping.

The original recipe calls for a sugar crumb topping which is excellent, but the muffins are also great with just a dusting of raw sugar or just plain. I imagine they’d also be great with some regular cinnamon and sugar on top although I haven’t tried this. I promise to do so next time.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins {{Baking Bytes}}

Whatever weather has graced your corner of the world, these muffins will be a delicious addition to your day.

Note: This is not a recipe to use up old apples. The apple is VERY prominent so make sure you pick good ones that you’d be fine eating plain.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Adapted from AllRecipes
Makes 12-15 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 egg

2 apples

Topping:
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core, and chop the apples into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. If desired, mix the topping ingredients with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture comes together. It should be well mixed but crumbly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and gently mix with a spatula until moistened. Batter will be thick.
  7. Gently stir in the apples until they are evenly distributed. Apple to batter ratio will look very high, but this is normal.
  8. Fill muffin wells 2/3 – 3/4 full and sprinkle with topping mix, raw sugar, or leave plain.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Notes

I used jazz apples because that’s what I had on hand, but any green or pinkish variety should be great.