Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brownies worth turning the oven on for....

With a very hot and sticky day outside, I probably should have pushed baking for the weekly Wednesday Treat Day to the end of the week, but I forged ahead because I had a feeling this treat would be worth it.

We've done quite a few fancy or over-the-top brownies in the past, but this time I wanted to make a basic, but very decadent brownie. After I went through my stacks of untried recipes, I found one where I would be able to make a couple of changes to come up with what I was looking for. These Minty West Tenth Street Brownies have that classic shiny crust on top that shatters as you plunge your knife through the surface. Instead of just melting the butter, I took it a step further and left the pot on the burner until the butter had lightly browned and gave off an intense nutty aroma.

Not straying too far off for the rest of the recipe, the only other change that was made was to add Andes mint baking pieces instead of chocolate chips. When you go to add these, do make sure that the brownie batter has cooled to room temperature so the chips will have some staying power. However, I doubt it would ruin the recipe if they melted a bit into a warm batter.

Minty BrowniesAs hard as it might be to do with the dreamy chocolate scent wafting through the house, once these brownie have baked, you will want to let them cool and refrigerate them for at least 4 hours before serving. Because these brownies are of the fudgy variety, they need to be chilled to get clean cuts; this process also allows the flavor to enhance as they rest. While not being so fudgy that they ooze or you need a fork when they warm up, the squares are very moist and dense. The melted spots of Andes chips spotted throughout add a sweet pleasing mint flavor, but the pungent chocolate flavor you want in a brownie is still the star here. If you are of the club that believes a brownie is not a brownie without nuts, feel free to toss in some toasted chopped pecans or walnuts when you add in the chips.

Minty BrowniesThere was no way I was turning on the oven tonight, which I anticipated, so tonight's dinner was a snappy Cherry Tomato Spaghetti with Toasted Pine Nuts that could be quickly tossed together without preheating the oven. Because there are limited flavors happening, you will want to make sure that the ingredients are very fresh and at their prime. The mini bubble-like tomatoes are key here and the dish may become a little bland if they are not sweet enough. Tossed in a bit of olive oil, the red orbs are heated until their skins begin to wrinkle and then they are seasoned with thinly sliced garlic and a dash of garlic powder. To form the sauce, the skillet is then covered and left over low heat while you cook the nutty whole wheat pasta. By the time the pasta is al dente, the juicy gems have burst, releasing their sweet juices.

Along with the cooked pasta, fresh green basil, a bit more olive oil and buttery toasted pine nuts are tossed with the tomatoes in the skillet to finish off the dish. The original recipe has you add toasted breadcrumbs at the end, but we opted to add a sharp bite with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese instead. This beautiful pasta dish was just the right choice to bring a close to this steamy day as it was quite light, yet just filling enough to quell any rumbles coming from our stomachs.

Cherry Tomato Spaghetti


  1. I love mint in brownies, but most people I know do not (they also don't love mint chip ice cream -- what is wrong with them?) -- so thanks for being another voice for mint and chocolate together! It is definitely too hot to bake, but will bookmark this in hopes of cooler weather later this week.

  2. I still haven't seen those Andes chips anywhere. I would love to make those brownies, too. I'll have to really search for them.

  3. These are my kind of brownies!! I, too, am a mint lover, but my husband is not. But that just means more for me, right??

  4. Is it really ever too hot for brownies??
    My husband and I both love mint...he's gonna love this idea! Thanks

  5. The brownies look decadent, Joe - I haven't had brownies in ages, I'm cra ving them now!

  6. I'm a fan of Nick Malgieri. I liked his interesting story behind these brownies. (w/o mint)

  7. Lydia - Seriously! Who couldn't love mint chip ice cream... I use to make very large milk shakes with it growing up!

    Jen - they are all over here! I wonder if it is just a regional thing?

    Deb - definitely and I'm sure they would freeze very well too!

    Dani - I don't think it is!

    Patricia - Don't deprive yourself, get some brownies made!

    Emilie - I'm a big fan of his too!