Mint Cheesecake Brownies for your BOTW

 

 

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In the dull, hot (and here in Texas, I do meant hot) months of Summer, one is always looking for something refreshing; whether it be an ice cold glass of lemonade, a snow cone, some ice cream or gelato – whichever it is I am always ready for that cold and refreshing something to go down my parched throat. Aren’t you?

Now, something that isn’t a drink or necessarily cold but still refreshing to me, is the flavor of mint. Mint ice cream, gelato, you name it – when it’s flavored right and not overkill, there is not much that involves mint that I don’t like.

A month or two ago when at the store with my mom, we were excited (we get excited over little things like this) to find that they were carrying Hershey’s Mint Chocolate Chips. Being as to how they don’t carry them at the store where we usually do our grocery shopping we decided to grab a couple of bags. I was excited to see what I would use them for but for whatever reason they ended up sitting in the cabinet for awhile.

Last week however, when going through brownie ideas I decided to make cheesecake brownies and then for whatever reason, I decided to use the mint chocolate chips in the brownie layer. Now when combining recipes and experimenting, one never knows how things are going to turn out, but these turned out pretty good – actually, like r.e.a.l.l.y. g.o.o.d., let me tell you a little about them.

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The way these brownies are constructed is a mint chocolate chip brownie layer on the bottom, a cheesecake layer in the middle, chocolate ganache on top, and a mint white chocolate drizzle to finish it off.

For the brownie layer, I used a new recipe (one of the two you will be seeing the most in my brownie creations) which worked very well for this combination. And for the cheesecake layer, I used this recipe from Handle the Heat. The ganache on top is Alton Brown’s, which is my favorite recipe to use and well, for a white chocolate drizzle…who needs a recipe?

I am so excited to share this recipe with you!!  If you are a fellow mint lover you are going to love these,  however if you don’t love mint there’s still hope, as my brother who is not quite so crazy about mint (to say the least), after trying them said to me,” These aren’t bad….”  – which, coming from him, says a lot….

The lowdown:

These mint brownies are a luscious combination of mint chocolate brownie, cheesecake, ganache, and white chocolate – could you really get any better?

Cottura felice!

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Mint Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies:

1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces

1 1/4 C. granulated sugar

3/4 C.unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/3 C. all-purpose flour

3/4 C. mint chocolate chips

For the cheesecake layer:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

½ C. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

For the ganache:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (good quality chocolate chips work well)

1 C. heavy cream (heavy whipping cream may be substituted)

For the mint white chocolate drizzle (optional):

2 ounces white chocolate

1/8 tsp. mint extract (less if you want less mint flavor)

Green Gel Food Coloring

Directions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with foil. Press foil firmly into the pan and leave a 2 inch overhang. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

With a steady stream, pour butter into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to combine.

Mix in vanilla. Next, add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition.

Stir in flour and mix just until combined (do not overmix).

Stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until just starting to set but not fully baked.

Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge until ready to use.

While brownies are cooling, make cheesecake layer.

For the cheesecake layer:

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined and smooth.

Beat in the eggs, flour, and salt until just incorporated.

Pour cheesecake batter over the brownie layer and bake at 325° F. for 50 minutes or until the cheesecake is set.

Remove from oven and while cooling, make the ganache.

For the ganache:

Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

Heat the cream in a small microwavable bowl for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until it is just beginning to simmer; make sure not to allow the cream to boil over.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes.

Whisk together until mixture is smooth.

Pour over the brownie/cheesecake and spread evenly.

Cool brownie/cheesecake to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator at least 2 hours to chill.

Before serving, make the white chocolate drizzle (if using):

For the white chocolate drizzle:

Melt chocolate in a small saucepan until smooth – be sure not to overheat!

Add in mint extract and stir until combined.

Add in, a little at a time, food coloring stirring after each addition until you reach desired color.

Snip off a very small  portion off the corner of a small zip top bag and place chocolate inside.

Drizzle over brownies.

Store leftover brownies in the fridge.

Brownie recipe from Epicurious, Cheesecake recipe from Handle the Heat, and the ganache recipe is Alton Brown’s Ganache  Frosting Recipe. 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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IMG_0440I love good things. Sweet, simple, but good – very good- things. I blog about my appreciation of the good life here, but since this is a food blog, my post is about something very sweet, very good, and surprisingly simple. Enter Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Peanut Butter cake. This cake is quite possibly the most genius recipe ever. It is a basic chocolate cake x 3 layers, a creamy , not too peanut buttery filling and, if that weren’t enough for you, a luscious ganache that covers the entire cake. Any of the pieces from a component that stands on its own, but put together, makes a cake that is no-fail easy and impressive. I have big plans for using the cake batter for other recipes that are floating in my sweets-addled brain right now. In the meantime, go make this cake. Now. Do not wait another minute and go get your baking on!

Notes (these are taken from some notes that Deb from the Smitten Kitchen made in this recipe):

>  The original recipe says it serves 12 to 16 but she (Deb) notes it serves more than that.

>  These cakes are extremely soft. They can be a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll very be glad you did this!

> Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a really good idea  for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you do this, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating.

>Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps if you chill it again to let it firm up. This step helps as the cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.

> (personal Sempre Dolce note) You can make the cakes early in the day and freeze until ready to frost. This cake is also good cold 😉

 

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

Warning: this cake is extremely rich, so cut small pieces!

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake that serves 12 to 16

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Add in vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure that the batter is well mixed. Divide batter among the  prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.

4. Make the peanut butter frosting.

5. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

6. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (as oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing fully after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add peanut butter and beat until fully blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use warm.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen who Adapted, only barely, from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

Posted by Shelbi