Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1999 ed.), pg. viii.
When Maida Heatter's first book (the above-mentioned title) won the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame Award in 1998, she accepted her award on stage and began to toss out these brownies to the audience. Everybody clamored for one and went wild.
The original recipe came from a local deli in her area and did not include the mints (that recipe is available in the first edition of this book). She tinkered with the recipe and added the mints which do not melt during baking. I've been itching to make these ever since seeing them featured on the cover of the book.
These brownies are soft, gooey and wonderful. I like them best at room temperature. Every year, just before the holiday break, goodie bags are put together for our hard-working student library employees. This was my contribution to the bag this year.
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 oz. (2 cups) walnuts
5 eggs graded "large"
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp. almond extract
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 TBS. plus 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
3 3⁄4 cups sugar
1 2⁄3 cups sifted unbleached flour
2 bags (14 oz. or 15.4 oz.) York chocolate-covered peppermint patties
Preheat oven to 425°. Line a 9" × 13" × 2" pan as follows: Invert the pan and center a 17" length of aluminum foil, shiny side down, over the pan. With your hands, press down on the sides and corners of the foil to shape it to the pan. Remove the foil. Turn the pan right side up. Place the foil in the pan and very carefully press it into place in the pan. Butter the foil by putting a small piece in the center of the pan and place the pan in the warm oven. After a few minutes, remove the pan and use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter all over the foil. Set the prepared pan aside. (Note: Maida recommends using a Magic Line pan for these. I do not own one and used a regular pan. The edges did burn (like she said they might) but they can easily be trimmed off.)
Place the chocolate and the butter in the top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat, or in a 4- to 6-cup heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted. Stir to mix. Remove from heat and set aside.
Pour half the mixture (about 3 1⁄2 cups) into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place a layer of the mints, touching each other and the edges of the pan, all over the chocolate layer. Cut some mints to fill in large spaces on the edges. (You will not use all the mints. There will be some left over.) Pour the remaining chocolate mixture into the pan and smooth all over.
Remove the pan from the oven; let stand until cool. Cover the pan with a cookie sheet and invert the pan and the sheet. Remove the pan and the foil lining. Cover the cake with a length of wax paper and another cookie sheet and invert again, leaving the cake right side up. Now, the cake must be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before it is cut into bars.
When you are ready to cut the cake, use a long, heavy knife with a sharp blade, either serrated or straight—try both. Cut the cake into quarters. Cut each quarter in half, cutting through the long sides. Finally, cut each piece into 4 bars, cutting through the long sides. (I think these brownies are better in narrow bar shapes than in squares.) Pack brownies in an airtight box or wrap individually in clear cellophane, wax paper, or foil. They freeze perfectly and can be served very cold or at room temperature.
Note: When you remove the cake from the pan you might see burned and caramelized edges. (You might not - it depends on the pan.) If you do, you leave them on or cut them off. I have friends who say that this is the best part. I cut them off, but then I can't resist eating them. (MH)