Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Happy July, folks! Halfway through the year and super psyched for the last round of posts for National Ice Cream Month! Are you excited? I’m excited. Each Frozen Friday of July will feature a new flavor, and I hope at least one of them leaves you with a new project for the weekend. (I’ll be breaking from the norm and posting the ice cream recipes in the morning, in case you need to make a grocery stop on your way from from work.)

You might be wondering how salad fits in here. For my regularly scheduled Wednesday programming, I’ll be featuring a salad series to balance a decadent month of dessert. Lots of different flavor profiles to look forward to and there should be a little something for everyone.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

First up is this red, white, and blueberry salad. This salad is served chilled which makes it easy peasy to make a couple of hours ahead (just pop the whole bowl in the fridge) and you’re all set. With no lettuce to wilt it’s great for potlucks and barbecues and a festive addition to your holiday parties that isn’t completely full of sugar.

Roasted beets are something I love immensely but rarely make because they’re a bit messy. I promise you the the pink hands and counters and bowls are all worth it here. Earthy and sweet, beets are wonderful chilled and warmed alike, which makes them extremely versatile across many dishes, including my favorite breakfast hash and sandwich at Jam. I nearly always order one or the other there, depending on if I want eggs or bread with my beets.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Complementing the beets is some tart apple and fresh blueberry. I love apple in salads for the crunch, and using a green one here is a delightful juxtaposition from the sweetness of the beets and blueberries. A simple white balsamic vinegar adds a lovely tang without the heaviness of a proper vinaigrette and a little bit of mint brings a summery freshness to the whole ordeal. As it stands this recipe is vegan, but if you want to include the creamy factor, goat cheese is always the answer in my world. (For the anti-goat cheese crown, Feta or parmesan are great substitutes.)

Pop some beets in the oven this evening so they’re ready to go tomorrow, and you’ll be all set for a lovely holiday side dish in no time!

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – If you are one of those people that can’t stand beets, I forgive you. Make it a fun fruit salad by substituting watermelon instead!

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 large beets, roasted1, chilled, and spiralized or diced
1 medium green apple, cut into matchsticks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (Barrel Aged) white balsamic vinegar, to taste

4-6 oz goat cheese (or Feta or parmesan), crumbled or shaved
large handful fresh mint leaves, chiffonade cut

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss beets with 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar until well coated. Transfer to serving bowl(s).
  2. Rinse bowl (so it’s not pink) and toss apple and blueberries with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar until well coated. Spread evenly over the beets.
  3. Crumble cheese and mint atop the salad and drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar, or more to taste.
  4. Serve promptly or chill until ready to eat.

Notes

If you’ve never roasted beets before, this is the method I use!

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

For as long as I can remember, mint chip has been one of my favorite ice creams. I had attempted it once or twice several years ago using mint extract, but it always tasted a bit off to me. Not like toothpaste, but just a little fake, despite using pure mint extract.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}Recently I came across a recipe using fresh mint, and with an overly bountiful mint plant taking over my garden it seemed a prime opportunity to give it a try. Using my standard recipe but steeping plenty of fresh mint leaves resulted in exactly what I was looking for: a strong mint flavor without the somewhat fake-seeming taste that comes from an extract.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}Herbier than your standard grocery store variety, this one reminds me a bit of the lemon basil from last year in that there is no doubting the fresh herbs involved. Mine turned a vaguely pale green, but your mileage may vary. I am not a fan of food coloring but will not begrudge you adding a few drops if you feel the need. Minty and creamy with the lightness that only fresh herbs can bring, the flavor is definitely one of my new favorites.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}The last bit to solve during my mint chip adventure was the “chip” aspect. I considered using chocolate chips but I prefer my mix-ins smaller even than mini chips, and the flakier chippy ice creams have always been my favorites. Conveniently, I attended a fantastic Italian cooking class a few weeks ago in which we made coffee gelato (I know, right?) in the stracciatella style. Traditionally, stracciatella is vanilla gelato with chocolate shavings but the process is easily used with any flavor. Simply pour melted chocolate (I used dark chocolate, of course) into the ice cream maker during the last few minutes of churning and it does all the heavy lifting for you. The chocolate freezes upon hitting the cold ice cream and the churning process breaks it up into small pieces while evenly incorporating it. My overused ice cream maker struggled a bit with the amount I used but all that really meant is I had to stir it a smidge as I put it into my bowl for the freezer – no big deal at all.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}This chocolate process was shockingly easy and super delicious, and I’m confident I’ll be incorporating it into other flavors in the future. Regardless as to whether you add in the chocolate, give this fresh mint ice cream a try and let me know what you think!

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves1

1/2 cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla

~5 oz dark chocolate, chopped2

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, half and half, sugar, and mint to a light boil, stirring regularly.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to steep for one hour.
  3. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, squeezing the mint leaves to retrieve as much liquid as possible (I just used my hands for this, much easier.)
  4. Whisk in the egg substitute and vanilla, then cover and place in the fridge until completely chilled, or overnight. (Put a lidded bowl in the freezer to get nice and cold at this time.)
  5. When mixture is completely chilled, churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  6. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler (or in a small metal bowl over simmer water) until smooth.
  7. During the last few minutes of churning, slowly stream the chocolate into the ice cream.
  8. If necessary, gently stir the ice cream with a spatula as you transfer it to your chilled bowl.
  9. Return to freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Notes

I did not measure particularly carefully since too much mint doesn’t seem like a problem; aim for at least 2 large handfuls.

I used about 6 oz of  68% chocolate because that is what I had laying around. It definitely was not too much chocolate but for the health of my mixer I would likely use closer to 5 oz next time. The darker the better in my opinion but use any level you wish!

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.