I enjoy cooking with my kids. I believe that teaching them how to cook and bake and feed themselves is an important part of the child rearing process. So, I set out to do that this week. First, we made brownies, but not just any brownies. We made brownies with a mint cheesecake layer, and then we topped them off with a simple ganache. I mean, it was St. Patrick’s Day. What ends a meal of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and Guinness like a rich brownies with a refreshing minty kick? Nothing. No. Nothing.
This week also happened to be my daughter’s spring break. She lovingly declared it “the worst spring break ever, except for Saturday and Sunday,” which I instantly started repeating every time she tried to talk to me.
“Mom, can I eat a-” “Worst spring break EVER!”
“Mom, is it okay if I go outsi-” “Worst spring break EVER!”
Apparently her idea of the perfect spring break does not involve teaching her brother and sister how to add and subtract, which she did, or making me numerous cups of coffee, which she did, or making and cleaning up lunch, which she did. In my defense, she declared it the worst spring break ever as early as Sunday when she realized that going to water parks and warmer climates and the mall daily were not on the agenda. She didn’t even give me a chance to make the week fun and exciting…which I didn’t. Still, she hasn’t complained since we took them all swimming with my sister at the (free) indoor pool over there.
And to appease her, I crossed things off her “want” list like homemade macaroni and cheese, smoothies, egg sandwiches, potstickers and fried rice and the like. I also declared Friday fun day and let the kids pick one place to go. Plus, we made brownies. Mint cheesecake brownies with smooth and creamy ganache all over the top. She loves me. If only her love would be so easy to buy in three years when she becomes a teenager.
Start with the cheesecake portion with a package of softened cream cheese and an egg.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
Naturally, you’ll need a bit of mint extract.
We chose to add a bit of food dye to make a lovely green color. Looking for a natural dye? I’d suggest India Tree Food Coloring.
Then mix it all together until it’s smooth and uniform in color. This was very exciting for the little man.
For the brownies start with two sticks of butter. (I did not promise low fat in this recipe, did I?)
Melted. However it is you like to get them that way, make it happen.
Next add sugar
…followed by a few eggs. He actually hung on to that shell!
Then add a few tablespoons of water.
Vanilla. And mix it all up, or have one of the kids do it.
Next we’re going to lazily sift the ingredients using a too large strainer and a too small bowl. One nearly 10-year-old is holding the strainer. Tell her not to let it drop into the liquid as you add ingredient after ingredient into it, starting with flour.
Unsweetened cocoa powder.
Baking powder and salt.
Instruct the children to sift. They actually didn’t do too bad. Most of it made it into the bowl.
Spread the brownie mixture into a 9×13 pan. I lined mine with parchment to make them easier to remove. You can just grease the bottom and up the sides really well too. If you use the parchment, spray the pan first so the parchment doesn’t slide around. It will make the spreading process that much easier.
Then top your brownie mix with the mint cheesecake mix and bake for 35 minutes or so.
While the brownies are cooling, make a ganache for the top. Start with cream and a small bit of butter in a pan over medium heat.
Just when the cream starts to boil, remove from the heat and dump in the chocolate. Whisk until it is all melted.
Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread it around evenly.
And that’s it. Store in the fridge.
And eat. Then eat another one while you try to figure out how in the world you’re going to retain the most-loved mom status with the girl for the next 8 years until you ship her off to college.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
4 drops green food dye, if desired
2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 egg, mint extract and food dye until smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl mix together 2 cups of sugar, melted butter and the water. Beat in 3 eggs and vanilla extract. Sift together flour, cocoa powder baking powder and salt and stir into the wet ingredients. Pour into a greased or parchment-lined 9″x13″ pan and spread evenly. Top with mint cheesecake mixture. Bake at 350° F for 30-35 minutes or until set.
When the brownies are out of the oven and cool start making the ganache. In a saucepan over medium heat bring the butter and cream just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate pieces until completely melted. Pour over the brownies. Spread to cover and store in the refrigerator.
Makes 20-24 brownies.