December 11, 2010

Grasshoppers – the little mint cookies I took to the NYC cookie swap yesterday – were definitely a hit. But I’m not going to tell you it’s an easy recipe. It’s a recipe that will make you grumble a little. Well, a lot.

Until you look at a box filled with these goodies – all 60 of them. That’s a lot of cookies. So, the return on all that work is good. Really good. In fact, so delicious, you’ll be glad there are a lot of them so you can save plenty for yourself.

The real secret to this recipe is patience. And time. It takes a full day – with plenty of time off for chilling the layers – but the cookies last for three weeks if kept nice and cold. I store them in a box in the garage (about 35° these days) only because my refrigerator is too full of jars.

First we make a brownie layer. It’s rich, decadent, and very firm. Next, make a white chocolate ganache flavored with Creme de Menthe. (I think I’ve had my bottle for 10 years. It will surely last another 20. This is the only time I take it out.) Finally, a bittersweet ganache tops the whole thing.

Give it a try. Don’t get angry with me when you cut the squares and the darn ganache cracks. Keep cleaning your knife after every cut. Imperfections will be overlooked once you get a taste of this confection. It’s somewhere between cookie and candy – what I call my happy place.

Grasshopper Squares

from Gourmet Magazine
makes about 60 cookies

For brownie layer
12 T unsalted butter
10.5 oz bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 c light brown sugar
3 lg eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c flour
1/4 c + 2 T unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
3/4 tsp salt

For mint ganache
1/2 c heavy cream
10 oz excellent white chocolate, chopped
2 T green creme de menthe
1 tsp peppermint extract

For chocolate ganache
1 c heavy cream
10 oz excellent bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 375°
Butter a 13×9 baking pan and line with two crisscrossed sheets of foil -leave a significant overhang.
Butter the foil. (I melt the butter and brush it on – you’ll get better coverage.)
Whisk the dry ingredients for the brownie.
Melt the butter and chocolate along with the brown sugar in a 3 qt saucepan, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients until just combined and no white streaks show.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake 20 minutes, until a tester inserted near the center comes out with just a few crumbs.
Cool on a rack at least 2 hours.

Mint layer:
Simmer the cream and pour over the white chocolate. Let it stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the creme de menthe and extract. Cover and chill about an hour.
When cool, stir well and spread over the brownie layer. An offset spatula is the perfect tool.
Cool for at least two hours.

Chocolate layer:
Simmer the cream, then pour over the chocolate. Allow it to stand for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes, then give it a stir and spread over the mint layer. Work quickly and don’t fuss too much.

Chill overnight. Lift the whole thing out of the brownie pan. It’s okay to swear a blue streak while you do this. Trim the edges – great cook’s snack!
Mark off your squares – I use a ruler – and use a long slicing knife to make your cuts, cleaning the knife after each one.

Layer the little goodies between wax paper and keep ’em cold – they’ll last three weeks – well, theoretically, anyway.


15 Responses to “mint chocolate grasshopper squares”

  1. Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle

    Oh my…one of my most favorite and like you, most requested goodies. I love the story cause you know every moment of what it takes. BUT maybe something I learned that could be helpful?

    I keep a glass of very hot water handy when slicing. Dip the knife in the water; wipe off and slice. The warm knife can more easily slice through the chocolate layer without causing the cracking.

    Want some now; bad.

  2. Victoria (District Chocoholic)

    I love how you top it with ganache instead of plain melted chocolate. Too many people make grasshopper brownies with plain melted chocolate that is too hard to properly yield to the underlying mint and brownie layers, which are (or should be) nice and soft. A serious winning recipe.

  3. Andrea@High/Low

    I made nanaimo bars before and cutting them were always the hardest part because of cracking ganache! Loved your squares – so cute and, of course, tasty! So happy to have met you in person too!! Happy Holidays!

  4. cincypstrychf

    A hot, dry knife is the best for cutting threw a ganache layer. Also the bigger the knife the better heat retention you will have. I use a 10″ chef’s knife to cut most items this size, an 8″ will work too but you will probably have to make two passes on the longer side. Also if your ganache cracks you can take an offset spatula, hot and dry, and kind of repair it. Some times I use a small butane torch to gently heat and patch cracked parts of ganache layer on items I have made.

  5. Winnie

    YUM! These, and everything else you brought to the city, were amazing. Was such fun to see you, as always…can’t wait to do it again 🙂

  6. Pam

    My mom has been making these for years. She figured out a few years ago that stocking the freezer full makes it easier when all her children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren come home for the holidays because we ALL want Gramma’s “Creme de Menthe bars!”

  7. Mei Ling

    Hi Cathy! I tried these and they’re so delicious and a big hit with my family, but the white chocolate layer is quite gooshy. I used the only actual white chocolate on offer in the local super market, which was a Ghirardelli white baking bar (everything else was white confectionary coating chips) but am wondering if a better kind might set a little firmer. Could you recommend a brand?

    (And thanks for the hot, dry knife, tips other commenters – it worked *great*!)

    • Cathy

      Hi Mei Ling,
      I’ve made these cookies for 15 years. Every year, I tell Dennis I’m never making them again. They infuriate me. In 15 years, only a few times has the white chocolate layer set properly. White chocolate is very hard to temper. It has more butterfat than bittersweet. In those successful years, I think I used expensive confectionary coating white chocolate from a baking website. Sometimes Sur La Table has Guittard. I’ve also found random boxes at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
      Happy Holidays,

      • Mei Ling

        Thanks, Cathy! I’ll pick up Guittard and might try to split the extract and creme de menthe between the two ganache layers. Will report back next year. 🙂



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