Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bah... who needs a mixer?

Yes, I did manage to bake yesterday so Jeff could keep the tradition for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day going. We thought about changing official Treat Day to Monday instead so we could start the week with something tasty, but we decided to keep it as-is to hopefully help with any mid-week blues. However, we may not be able to do it next week as we should hopefully be moving into the new house!

I was so used to just whipping out a mixer to get things done that I thought I would be fairly limited in what we could make in this temporary place out here. I still needed something fairly easy though, so after some thought, I decided I would try to make Mint Chocolate Squares with some of those minty Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips.

Mint Chocolate SquaresThe first thing you do for these squares is make a dough that will end up forming the base and will be also used to create little buttery golden nuggets on top. Sometimes recipes like this will call for you to pre-bake the crust - I decided not to do that here, which gave me some interesting results in the final product. When I usually give them a pre-bake, the crust typically comes out a little more crumbly and it is not always easy to get clean cuts. This time, when I didn't pre-bake, the crust was still golden and very firm, yet it was just tender enough to easily cut through to form clean and tidy squares. The filling is an effortless combination of thick sweetened condensed milk and those minty chips - they are heated together just until the chips melt, darkening the pale milky liquid. A splash of vanilla and a handful of toasted chopped walnuts round out the filling with a sweet nutty crunch. The filling completely solidifies during the baking process, yet retains a softness that allows you to easily sink your teeth through the squares. If you don't groove on chocolate and mint, you could certainly use a dark chocolate for a cleaner flavor. I will have to remember how simple these squares were to whip together when bake-sales pop up or I need to get a quick treat together.

Mint Chocolate Squares


  1. That's really a clever idea, a designated treat day. I should do that, as it would help keep me from baking too much!

  2. Still baking up a storm I C. Chocolate and mint make the perfect combo!!!

  3. Christina - We've been doing the treat day for I think 2 years now! It's fun!

  4. Valli - I know... I should be busy doing other things, but I can't help it!

  5. Hi Joe!
    I'm in the midst of a baking dilemma and am in need of advice. I blogged about it a few minutes ago hoping that someone could shed light on what I may have done wrong. The short of it is my egg whites didn't even attempt to peak after briskly whisking them for quite some time (with an electric mixer no less!). No hard peaks, nothing. Just creaminess. Am I destined to be a designated cook and a failed baker?

    Please advise :)

  6. I've never seen the Andes baking chips here in CA. Where did you find them?

  7. I like how it looks without the crust baking first. And like you said, it makes everything uniform and easy to cut to serve. I'm always inspired by your baking.

  8. To citylivingcountrygirl:
    My feeling is that you might have done one or more things wrong: 1.Start with a completely grease free and dry bowl and beater. Never plastic. 2.There can't even be a whisper of egg yolk in the whites (yolk is fat)3.Beat egg whites after they have warmed to room temp.4.A dash of cream of tartar helps with foaminess.

  9. Cityliving - Carolyn has some good comments for you. You could try using a copper bowl as well for better results.

    Rebecca - They are all over the regular grocery stores here... I hope you can find some soon!

    Cynthia - Thank you!

    Carolyn - Good info!

  10. oh, these look delicious!
    i always find myself grabbing for the andes baking chips in the store, and then reluctantly not adding them to my basket because i have no use for them in the foreseeable future (and i'd probably just eat them plain before i had the chance to bake with them)
    this recipe just gave me a reason to but them. THANK YOU

  11. ... - Let me know if you give these a try!