Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate Covered Mints

Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate Covered Mints
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. unsweetened chocolate
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.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, salt, espresso, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes. On low speed, add the chocolate mixture (which may still be warm) and beat only until mixed. Then add the flour and again beat on low speed only until mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Stir in the walnuts.

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.

Bake for 35 minutes, reversing the pan front to back once during baking to ensure even baking. At the end of 35 minutes, the cake will have a firm crust on top, but if you insert a toothpick in the middle it will come out wet and covered with chocolate. Nevertheless, it is done. Do not bake any longer.

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)


sandrina.sanda said...

That looks really good.

FoodEpix said...

Looks delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

Purabi Naha said...

What a yummy "Maida" preparation! Loved this recipe and the way you write. I am fond of food and I think there is a lot to learn from you! Your photography is praiseworthy too. Do you have a facebook page? Please feel free to follow my blog as well as my FB page (Cosmopolitan Currymania)and I'll follow your wonderful blog as well!!

Paula @ Vintage Kitchen said...

I bought the book because of these brownies! That was late 90´s before recipes were wide availabe in the web. For years they were my go-to recipe, though I never made them with mints.

Gold Finch said...

I never made these with mints, although I’ve done that with other brownies. I remember Maida’s description that these were called Palm Beach because they were so rich rich rich! One summer my parents were on a trip for a few weeks and my sister and I made a batch of these and had them after platters of nachos every night for dinner. Oh, I miss my former metabolism!