Saturday, December 21, 2013

Palm Beach Brownies

from Peg Cochran

I couldn’t decide which recipe to make for our Christmas week.  There are so many, many goodies we have enjoyed over the years.  I looked through a half dozen of the cookie recipes given to me by my late mother-in-law, flipped through my notebook of saved recipes and then starting going through my cookbooks.  One of them was Maida Heatter’s "Brand New Book of Great Cookies" which had been a present to my late husband who loved to cook and bake as much as I did.  I glanced through the recipes and next to this one for Palm Beach Brownies he had written “Incredible! 12/96.”  I decided okay, this is it.  I remembered these brownies and they really are incredible.  I just hoped they would turn out as well as his had.  I think I’ve come close, and I think he’d be pleased that I chose to make these and share them with family this Christmas. 

The recipe makes 6 1/2 pounds of brownies!  They are very rich so you will want to cut them into bite-size pieces.  They freeze well, and I've put most of the ones I made into the freezer to get out during Christmas week.

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used Bakers brand)
8 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces walnuts
5 "large" eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon powdered instant espresso (I used Medaglia D'Oro which, if I can find it in my grocery store (ethnic foods aisle), hopefully you can, too.)
3 3/4 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups sifted flour
Two 14- or 15.4-ounce bags York peppermint patties (I could only find 12-ounce bags, and I had enough with a few left over for nibbling on.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Turn a 9 x 11 (or 9 x 13) pan upside down, take a length of aluminum foil and fit it to the bottom of the pan.  Turn the pan right side up and tuck the aluminum foil inside so that the pan is lined.  

Place a piece of butter (additional to that in the recipe) in the pan, put in the oven until it melts, and use a pastry brush to coat the inside of the foil in your  pan.  (Note: do not forget the pan in the oven and burn the butter which I did the first time around.  In order to cool the pan quickly so I could start over, I put it outside in the snow by the front door.  Worked like a charm!)

Place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or heavy saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Break the walnuts into smaller pieces.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the vanilla and almond extracts, salt, espresso and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes.  On low speed add the chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed.  Add the flour and beat on low speed only until mixed.  Stir in the nuts.

Pour half the mixture in the prepared pan--it will be a thin layer.  Unwrap the mints and place a layer on top of the batter.  You may need to cut some to fit along the sides.  The entire pan should be covered with the mints.  (Hint:  you can eat about six or seven of the mints and still have enough left for the brownies  Good to know if you have a hubby who loves candy!)

Pour the remaining chocolate batter over the mints (the layer will be thin) and smooth.  

Bake for 35 minutes reversing the pan from front to back during baking to insure even baking.  The cake will have a firm crust on top, but a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out wet and covered with chocolate.  The brownies are nevertheless done--do not bake any longer.  

Let the pan stand until brownies are cool.  Cover with a cookie sheet and invert.  Remove pan and foil lining and invert again so they are right side up.  

Refrigerate (or freeze) until firm (or they will be too gooey to cut).  Cut into quarters, cut each quarter in half then into four long bars.  These are very rich and you do not want big pieces.  You may want to cut them even smaller if you are serving them along with other cookies.  They freeze well and can be served very cold or at room temperature.

Merry Christmas!  I hope you and yours will enjoy these!

Obviously the character in my Gourmet De-Lite series, Gigi Fitzgerald, would counsel you against eating too many of these.  But they are so good that a small portion is very satisfying, and, after all, it's Christmas!

I'd love to add you to my mailing list--sign up can be found on my web site.  I also enjoy chatting with readers on Facebook or Twitter (@pegcochran).

The third book in my Gourmet De-Lite series, Iced to Death, comes out in March.  Lots of fun things ahead for Gigi!

Melt butter and sugar in double boiler

Mold aluminum foil to inverted pan

Turn pan right side up and line with molded foil

Unwrap peppermint patties and eat a few!

Good brand of instant espresso

Butter and chocolate melted and stirred until smooth

Pan cooling in the snow after I burned the butter!

Remove foil from brownies

Cut off burnt or crusty edges...or not

Don't forget to leave some out for Santa!

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  1. I love this recipe, Peg! It sounds scrumptious. And I also love the warm emotional connection with your past.

    My favorite part of the instructions? Open patties. Eat a few.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and thanks for sharing this.


  2. Those look AMAZING! I have saved the recipe and will make them soon!!!

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Peg, these brownies are delicious and rich, as rich as the memories that inspired them. Thank you for sharing both. All best for this Christmas season, and may your New Year be bright.

    ~ Cleo

  4. Such an unusual and yummy-sounding recipe Peg! It must have been sweet to see your hub's writing in the cookbook--thanks for sharing!

  5. Peg, how sweet to have a memory like this of your husband. I love that connection! Mine doesn't cook, so I'll have to find sweet tokens of his love in other ways. Hmm. Searching, searching. Aha. He leaves me little notes around the house. I leave him notes, too. I guess those are love letters. LOL The brownies DO look incredible!! Got to try!!

    Daryl / Avery

  6. Sounds delicious. I love this series and can't wait for the new book!

  7. How wonderfully heart-felt! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Oh no! I really have to try these. They sound amazing. Love the pre-molding of the foil. Very clever!


  9. Looks like a wonderfully decadent treat, thank you for the recipe. Beautiful covers, also. Happy Holidays!