Cooking With Alcohol: Branca Menta Brownies

Branca Menta Brownie-Photo by Susannah Skiver Barton-2

I think I’d make a terrible bartender for a number of reasons: I’m clumsy; I’m bad at talking and doing anything else at the same time; I have almost no patience for inebriated fools. And I dislike Fernet Branca, the tipple that’s so popular with mixologists these days it’s referred to as the “bartender’s handshake.

I don’t dislike all amari. Indeed, I love a good amaro-based cocktail, and most of the time I tend to go for bitter flavors rather than sweet or sour. But the appeal of Fernet by itself is lost on me. When I received a bottle of Fernet Branca’s sibling, Branca Menta, I thought it might suit me better.

I played around with it in a few cocktails, but have had a hard time overcoming the dissonance of bitterness and mint in the same glass. (Suggestions, please!) Instead, I decided to do what I do with all my orphan alcohol: Cook.

I don’t have to tell you that chocolate + mint = bliss, and a boozy batch of mint brownies is about as close to paradise as you can get in under an hour using kitchen staples. These brownies were mad good—even better with freshly whipped cream. If you want them on the less-sweet side, eliminate the chocolate chips.

Branca Menta Brownie-Photo by Susannah Skiver Barton-3

Branca Menta Brownies

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1 cup white sugar
– 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 3 Tbs. Branca Menta
– 2 large eggs
– 1/2 cup flour
– 1/4 tsp. baking powder
– (optional) 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: 
1. Heat the oven to 350. Generously butter an 8″ x 8″ glass or metal pan.

2. In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until well mixed, then the cocoa powder, Branca Menta and eggs. If you want fudgier brownies, stir the eggs until just incorporated—but no more.

3. Fold in the flour and baking powder with as few strokes as possible, followed by the chocolate chips, if using. Pour it all into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. (Check early if you’re using a dark metal pan.) A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the brownies should come out with just a little bit of batter clinging to it. (Don’t worry, the brownies will keep cooking in the pan as they cool.) Let the pan of brownies cool on a rack for at least an hour before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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