Chocolate- Mint Bars

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Chocolate- Mint Bars: March 2008

Today I’m featuring the cover recipe from an old issue of Cooking Light– March 2008.  Cooking Light doesn’t tend to put a lot of desserts on their covers, and when they do… they typically aren’t a cookie or bar type of dessert.  I’m quite often asked if I have light ideas for cookies and bars, so I can imagine that readers of Cooking Lightwould appreciate more of that sort of thing from this magazine.  Even more interesting is that this recipe was part of the Recipe Makeover series- where readers send in a favorite recipes that they’re requesting them to be lightened up.

The original recipe contained 4 eggs, loads of butter and chocolate.  The test kitchen was able to shave 6 grams of fat and 55 calories per serving off of the original recipe with their makeover.  The details on these Chocolate-Mint Bars:  A base-brownie layer is iced twice: first with a thin, sweet, and minty topping, and then with a rich chocolate glaze.

From Cooking Light: The dense base layer is like a rich, fudgy brownie, so don’t overcook it or the dessert bars will be dry. Refrigerating the mint bars allows the chocolaty top layer to set properly. You can make the dessert up to one day ahead. For a more grown-up taste, you can also use dark chocolate chips for some or all of the semisweet chocolate chips in the glaze.

Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.


Print Print Recipe

Chocolate- Mint Bars

Yield: 20 servings (20 pieces)

Prep Time: 35 min

Cook Time: 23 min

Ingredients:

Bottom layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
Cooking spray

Mint layer:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring

Glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare bottom layer: Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
3. To prepare mint layer:  Combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.
4. To prepare the glaze: Combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces.

Tips:

*The Hershey's syrup is by weight, not fluid ounces. So, if you're pouring from a bottle, weigh it, don't measure.
*Don't expect a fudgy brownie layer. Cooking Light claims that it's fudgy... it's very moist, but I found it to have more of a velvety/cakey texture than fudgy.
*Leave out the food coloring if you wish. I personally like to include it as it gives eaters a 'hint' that there is mint-flavor tucked within.
*Watch the baking time. Mine had to bake up slightly longer than 23 minutes. At 23 minutes they appeared a little too gooey.
*The frosting layer is pretty liquidy at first- best to get it onto the cooled brownie layer, then refrigerate it before adding the chocolate layer.
*I had a some good-quality dark chocolate lying around so I chopped that up and used it for the top layer.
*They're good cold.
*If you're pulling them out of the refrigerator, it's best to let them sit on the counter for about a half hour to warm up the layers. When I tried to slice into the bars when the layers were very cold, the chocolate layer on top wanted to crack. When left at room temperature a while, it softened up a bit. I used a thin, sharp knife to cut and didn't have any trouble with cracks.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1 piece
Calories per serving: 264
Fat per serving: 8.7g
Saturated Fat per serving: 5.2g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">139g
Fiber per serving: .5g
Protein per serving: 2.8g
Cholesterol per serving: 38mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 45g

Source:  Cooking Light, March 2008

The results:

I thought these bars were fabulous.  They’re light in texture and I loved the chocolate-mint combination- kind of like the Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies in the form of a brownie.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Yes! I loved that they featured a dessert bar on their cover. I thought it was a fun recipe to feature in March for St. Patrick’s Day (alternative to the usual St. Paddy’s Day fare). And these were delicious!

Lori is the founder of RecipeGirl.com. She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at RecipeBoy.com.

9 Responses to “Maple- Mustard Pork Chops w/ Winter Squash Puree”

  1. 1

    Tracey — March 17, 2010 @ 7:55 am

    This is a beautiful meal! My husband loves pork chops and I recently discovered a few ways of preparation that avoided the dry, rubbery pork chops we all hate. I’ll have to try this one now too :)

  2. 2

    Laura — March 17, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    this looks fantastic! i also live in southern california and i’ve found frozen winter squash puree at the vons/pavilions in my neighborhood.

  3. 3

    sarah — March 17, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

    i am also afraid of pork…might actually have to try this one!

  4. 4

    Katie — March 18, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    I’m a huge fan of anything pork and mustard! Though I love the healthiness of boneless porkchops, cooking them on the bone will make them juicy nearly every time! I am definitely trying this one.

  5. 5

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — March 22, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    I’ve had this Cooking Light sitting beside my bed for a while and I keep looking at this dish. It looks so great… After reading your review of it, I think I’ll have to finally give it a try!

  6. 6

    DawnK — March 26, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    I still haven’t made this recipe, but it caught my eye, way back in February, when I first got the March issue! I really have to find the time to make this. It looks and sounds so good! I love green beans, too. I’m not sure I can find frozen butternut squash, either. I’ll have to look. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I found it on another blog and they also liked it!

  7. 7

    Kathy — March 26, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    I’ve throughly checked the ingredients of this recipe as I plan to cook this soon. I have checked other recipes before with pork and mustard combination, and I am certain that these two (pork chops and mustard) can be put together harmoniously.

  8. 8

    Amanda — September 1, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    Looks great! I’m in San Francisco, and I usually find squash in the section of fancy organic frozen veggies.

  9. 9

    tinmango — November 13, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was fabulous! There were a couple things I did differently though…I dredged the pork chops in sesame seeds before pan-frying them. The sesame adds a rich nuttiness to the pork which complements the sweetness of the sauce quite nicely. I also kept the mash super simple. I used sweet potatoes instead of squash and only added salt, pepper & butter.

    Sooooo good.

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