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Crème de Menthe Brownies

The brownies are easy: the icing is a challenge; the glaze is a trap. Learn to make a dining hall favorite.

John Allen
June 02, 2022
Plate of brownies

Ingredients: Brownies

1 box Pillsbury Tradition Fudge Brownie Mix (or similar)

1 stick butter, melted

¼ cup water

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients: Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

½ stick butter, softened

2 Tbsp. green crème de menthe

¼ tsp. mint extract

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

(You may substitute extra mint extract and green food coloring in place of crème de menthe. But be careful: mint extract has a strong flavor, so don’t use too much.)

Ingredients: Glaze

2 Tbsp. butter

¼ cup water

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put brownie mix in bowl and make a well in the center. Add melted butter, water, eggs, and vanilla to well, then stir 50 strokes by hand. Pour into greased 9" by 13" pan and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool.

To make icing, blend powdered sugar and softened butter until smooth. Add in crème de menthe, mint extract, and cream. Blend until color is even. Spread on brownies. Put in refrigerator.

To make glaze, melt butter in a saucepan and add water. Whisk. Add chocolate chips, and melt, stirring constantly. When smooth and glossy, spread over the top of the icing on the brownies. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Comments and Insights

Badger Insider fan Christine L. ’81, MS’84, ’85 asked us to find a recipe for chocolate mint brownies, “chocolate on the bottom with light green frosting on top,” and we’re pretty sure that these are the ones she meant. Crème de menthe brownies come from the cookbook of Rheta McCutchin ’56, who was UW–Madison’s food service director from 1958 to 2002 and so probably made a lot of brownies.

In making my batch of crème de menthe brownies, I made two adjustments: first, I found a gluten-free mix, so that I could share the brownies with office-mates; second, for authenticity, I chose to skip the crème de menthe and instead use the suggested substitute — green food coloring and extra mint extract. I have a hard time believing that the UW’s dining halls of the 1980s used liqueur when a less expensive option was available.

Overall, this is a fairly simple recipe: the main element is just making brownies from a boxed mix. Follow the instructions, and after that, the damage you can do is limited.

Making the no-alcohol icing is a bit of a challenge, however. McCutchin suggests the ingredients you can use as a substitute — green food coloring and mint extract — but not amounts. Instead, she just warns not to overdo it. I went drop by drop. At some point, your frosting will look like guacamole and taste like toothpaste: congratulations! This means you’re successful. Spread it over the brownies.

The glaze is also a small challenge. It’s a bit like a poor-man’s ganache. When melting the chocolate chips, stir frequently, and then stir more, and then stir more again. Chocolate will mix with butter and water, but it takes energy to get it there. It also takes a patient, gentle hand to spread the glaze over the top of the icing, and my hand is neither. Stick with it. At room temperature, the chocolate in the glaze melts, turning it runny; when refrigerated, the glaze becomes brittle and will shatter when you try to cut the brownies. Good luck!

At the end, though, it’s hard to go wrong with these brownies. The mint and dark chocolate complement each other excellently. So you may end up with something that looks ugly, but it will almost certainly taste delicious. 

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