Brownies that Bring the Brogue: Irish Brownies

I’m at least half Irish. I say “at least” because some of my forebears may have fudged a little bit about their provenances purely for the pleasure of irritating their wives. We don’t know for sure, but work with what we’ve got.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with some traditional Irish recipes, like brown bread, stews, scones, you know. But, like any cultural cuisine, there’s always some Americanized version of some item that plays to certain stereotypes, tones down strong regional flavors to appeal to blander palates, or just figured out how to make an extra buck by placing an ‘O’ and an apostrophe in front of something.

In our family, there’s Irish Brownies. Comes from my father’s Irish side.

This recipe has been around longer than I have, and has made appearances at family pot lucks any time of the year. We know better than to limit our enjoyment of these to just one month. And it’s absolutely one of those Americanized stereotype recipes that I am not ashamed of. If dark, gooey chocolaty-ness, creamy mint mouth glue is wrong, then I never want to be right.

I can even recall a time when my father prepared a pan of these, but tinted the middle layer pink in honor of a baby girl who was just born. The parents didn’t complain at all.

Over the years, though, I’ve developed a pet theory as to how we’ve come to call them Irish Brownies: take a bite, start chewing, then be really rude and try to talk with a mouth full of brownie. Voila! You sound like an extra from the set of “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.” Or Tom Cruise in “Far and Away.” Take your pick.

Want to try them out for yourself? Here’s the recipe.

Irish Brownies

1 package brownie mix for a 9×13 pan, prepared according to directions

For the filling:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup milk

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon mint extract

Green food coloring

For the topping:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare the pan of brownies according to the directions on the package, if you haven’t already. While the brownies cool, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk the flour, stirring constantly; it will thicken and brown slightly. Whisk the milk in, until the mixture is lump-free. Add the sugar, and bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove from heat, and stir in the mint extract. Take a moment to taste, and if it’s not minty enough for you, add a drop or two more. Add in food coloring until you’ve got the shade of green you want. Pour mixture over brownies in the pan, and smooth to an even layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator and cool until the filling is set, at least 2 hours.

In a medium bowl, melt the butter and chocolate chips in a microwave, stirring until smooth: about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring first after one minute, and then stirring every 30 seconds afterwards. Pour melted mixture over the brownie-mint layers, and smooth into an even layer. You can start humming a few bars of “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” from Finian’s Rainbow at this point. Then back in the fridge the pan goes until the top layer is set, at least 1 hour.

Serving recommendations: dip a sharp knife in a glass of hot water; score the hardened top with the knife lightly a few times, to keep the surface from cracking. Then, adding pressure, cut completely through the layers.

Serves 24 regular people. 48 little people.

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