|CREAMY, MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH CHOCOLATE, MINTY BARS OF DREAMY GOODNESS|
|HONEY AND BABY M GO SHOPPING FOR INGREDIENTS--NEED LOTS OF BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE|
Because I was out of town I am behind on my baking/posting. In a effort to catch-up I have baked the Grasshopper Bars (and so did my Frolicking Night Owl daughter, so we compared a few notes) and in the process, I've taken care of a couple of other tasks.
I think I have mentioned that I teach adult Sunday School where we study the New Testament this year. To keep everyone awake and lively through the sometimes heavy-duty topics, I take a sugar goodie to my 70 member class which I share at the beginning of each lesson...it takes about 15 minutes for the full sugar effect to kick in, which becomes noticeable with more thoughtful comments and answers, and the men especially love my class. I'd like to think I am a great teacher (I prepare well, make handouts, maps, etc.), but I really think it is their way of saying they love my treats. I am positive that 2 or 3 folks attend just for my treats, and I feel it is worth all my efforts to get them there where we discuss good things. As I pondered what to bake for my class members, I decided to try the Grasshopper Bars recipe and let them be the judges on this recipe.
While out of town, I needed a few more pie plates (I made 28 varieties totaling 50 pies and pie-size tarts for my nephew's wedding reception), so I made a trip to hit the local thrift stores. I came across a few other fun finds like this baking dish, which was made in France, and unlike my other Pyrex type dishes, it has unusual handles and a green tint. So, I thought I would try out my new find, and I also decided to experiment with a few other baking dishes to see which I like most for this type of recipe.
|MY NEW THRIFT STORE BAKING DISH|
I also used my favorite brownie pan which is from Pampered Chef...from one of those neighborhood parties that I get invited to almost weekly but rarely attend...but this particular item was well worth the party and I recommend it highly for baking any bar cookie or bar cake.
|THIS PAMPERED CHEF STONE BAKER WAS THE BEST BAKER|
First the brownie bottom was baked and cooled completely. I love gooey and extra chocolaty brownies so I added lots of chopped semi-sweet chocolate to the batter...as if this recipe is not rich enough. Actually turned out great.
|MY 9 X 13 PYREX AS SUGGESTED|
I tried a few other similar baking pans...had to bake 100 2" square bars...mostly for my class but we needed some at home too.
Then the buttercream filling was made and chilled (while I mowed the lawn...just the perfect amount of time, and it takes a real AZ woman to mow in 112^). For flavoring I used Italian soda syrup, Creme de menthe, and peppermint extract in the same portions as the recipe called for in the "real" ingredient. Worked perfectly. There were, however, some problems with how the recipe was written. First, what is meant by "bring to boil and has thickened"? Does that mean barely a boil (no amount of time given), and how thick? My daughter removed the heat at the first sign of boiling, and her mixture had thickened some, but it was never thick enough, even after chilling, and remained runny on her bars...not good. I boiled my mixture for a few minutes, hoping it would thicken to a more spreadable consistency, but decided that maybe it would whip up and thicken more, possibly thicken during refrigeration??? The recipe write-up was not clear.
My kitchen is hotter than most...hot outside and baking inside makes things quite hot for our ingredients. Butter melts just about instantly when removed from refrigeration...and chocolate is a bit soft right out of the cupboard. So, I refrigerated my beaten mixture and then beat it more, but it did not really thicken to what I would normally use as frosting, for example.
All the baking pans except the Pampered Chef stoneware pan were lined with parchment which left ragged edges all around (those bars around the edges were the ones kept out for us).
|THE STONEWARE CAME OUT NICELY WITHOUT PARCHMENT|
It was fun to try my new baking pan, but my go-to pan will be the stoneware...much easier and came out well.
|BUTTERCREAM SPREAD ON TOP OF BROWNIE|
But the quite soft buttercream did spread onto the brownies (I had to use a soft touch), which I then chilled while I finished the yard...about an hour more. But, before spreading, the instructions say to mix the buttercream again, after chilling, until it is the "proper consistency." Whatever that means??? What is the proper consistency? Frolicking Night Owl definitely did not achieve the proper consistency and she is a good baker. I'm wondering if anyone has a "too firm" filing that needed to be placed over a pot of simmering water and re-mixed to "proper consistency?" If so, I"m sure they do not live in AZ!
|THE GANACHE...HEAVEN IN A BOWL|
Then I melted the chocolate and butter mixture and it is, well, wonderful enough to make any day your best day ever, and, for sure, this had a "proper consistency." How could it be anything else? Butter and chocolate melted together and smooth as glass, well almost, when poured over the buttercream mixture.
Then back to refrigeration for another hour, then cut into squares and boxed up ready for my class.
Our tasting was a delight!!! What is better that all this butter and chocolate and creamy goodness? Hubby went to weight watchers right after I did this baking so he tried hard to refuse a taste, but he tried a tiny portion and then came, I suppose unfortunately, for more. Number 1 son appeared with a friend and they ate a whole pan. Probably a pound of butter apiece. No complaints. They tried to sneak more to take home, but my class has to be treated...maybe there will be a left over to bring home...NOT!
I hoarded away a few for our family Sunday dinner, but soon these delicious bars will be gone. Since there are several time-taking steps for this dessert, I can't just whip them up every time I dream about them, but I will need to rearrange my life so that I can make them often. Now that I know what I want for my personal "proper consistency" I'll be baking these again soon and often. This recipe is a keeper!!!!!!!
OK, I'm giving in. As asked, here I am...first pic of me on this blog, but I can do it with my grandkiddies! My baking buddies are the best tasters and lick-the-beaters helpers anywhere. So whatever vision cyperspace friends have had of me is now banished and here is the real me...
|HONEY AND BABY M...SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS|