Grasshoppers and Sassafras. Sounds sort of funny taken out of context. But grasshoppers, the sweet chocolate and peppermint bars, are a Christmas tradition in my family. They’ve been a favorite probably because they’re sort of like having a rich Thin Mint brownie. I even took them to a work party and one of my friends said to me, “Who made those mint bars? Everyone keeps coming back for more.”
Before making them, I called my mom and asked her to scan this recipe in from our local Junior League cookbook, Sassafras! Note there is an actual exclamation point in the title of the book, I don’t just throw those in random sentences. Anyhow, my mom’s cookbook is quite tattered and falling apart, but she’s sweet, so she scanned it for me regardless. Later, as we were opening gifts before my family left town this week, my dad gave new copies of the cookbook to both my mom and I. So, it seems like perfect timing to post about these bars.
I have serious issues following a recipe exactly, so I added in cream cheese to this one. This is optional, but I liked that it cut the sweetness and added a creamier texture to the frosting. Also, I tend to go light on the food coloring as I like my sweets to look more natural. I mean, I’m baking so that it doesn’t look like it belongs in a shrink wrapped envelope, right?
- adapted from Sassafras!
makes 7 to 8 dozen
- 4 eggs
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup cocoa
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (optional)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- a few drops of green food coloring (optional)
- 1 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 3 tablespoons butter
make the brownie layer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (use cocoa powder for a cleaner look) an 11×17-inch baking pan with a rim. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until thick. Add cocoa, flour and peppermint extract until just combined. Then stir in butter. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Watch these carefully, as you do not want to overbake. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting. Or, speed up the process by quickly cooling them in the fridge or freezer.
make the peppermint frosting
In a stand mixer, cream powdered sugar with butter and cream cheese, if using. Add in peppermint and food coloring. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until a spreading consistency is reached. With a spatula, spread frosting over brownie/cake portion of bars. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Hardening the frosting makes spreading the chocolate topping easier.
make the chocolate topping
Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave. I prefer the results from the stovetop method. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make one by simply placing a metal bowl over a saucepan filled with a little water. As the chocolate melts, whisk the mixture to remove any lumps. Using a pastry or silicone brush, spread topping over frosting. Refrigerate to harden. Cut into 1×2-inch bars.