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Tar Heel Chocolate Brownies



For those of you who are picking up this book to learn how to improve your cooking skills, I recommend skipping over directly to the next chapter, then returning later on as you read this book.

If you who bought this book on impulse, I begin this book with the recipe for Tar Heel Chocolate Brownies. Once you have completed your brownies and you wish to take on the task of making a better meal, I recommend the continued reading of this book.


Here are two secrets to any good brownie.


1.      Take the brownies out of the oven immediately after the surface is firm, but still somewhat sticky. This will ensure moistness for several days.

2.      If the brownies are not going to be eaten within three days, wrap in plastic and put in the freezer.



 The Ingredients

1.     8 oz butter or 2 sticks

2.     4-oz peppermint leaves

3.     3 oz bourbon

4.     5 oz bittersweet chocolate

5.     1 and 4/5 cups of sugar

6.     1 dash of salt

7.     4 eggs

8.     1 cup sifted flour (see pg. 3)


The Recipe


Turn on the oven to 350 to 365 degrees and place butter in 2-qt pot over a high heat. 

Start to add whole leaves and tender stems. The leaves will wither to the bottom of the pan as they cook in the butter, leaving you plenty of room to add the additional leaves.  Stir as you drop in the rest of your mint.

To prevent the leaves and milk fats from burning, turn down the heat to medium and stir as the butter simmers.

Continue stirring for 15 minutes. (Mint, when planted outside, can grow like a weed. Should you have a great deal of mint, refer to page 12.)



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Note- Mint is classified as a medicinal herb.  Therefore it can be most likely found in the herbal section of your local supermarket or health food shop.  Wild mint can be used. However, be careful where you pick it.  Plants that grow along side the road or in parking lots can absorb fuel and other automotive chemicals that can make you sick or give you a headache, and are therefore no better than ditch weed.  And you should always use the best, never ditch weed.


Pour melted Butter and spent mint leaves through a strainer.

Since excess milk fat residue will remain in the spent leaves, pour bourbon over the leaves to wash the milk fats into the bowl. 

Then press down on the leaves with spatula or spoon to squeeze excess liquid into the bowl. Now is the time to melt the bittersweet chocolate. 

Pour contents of bowl back into the pan.

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Note-It is important that you collect as much of the milk fats as possible.  Milk fats are what help to provide the rich flavor


Add the bittersweet chocolate into the pan.  Stir until melted.

To ensure both that the brownies will not stick and make for quick and easy clean up, I recommend placing sheets of foil to cover the entire inner surface of the pan you intend to cook the brownies in. 

Spray the foil with a nonstick grease spray. Any generic type will due.

To keep from burning the batter, remove the pot from the burner.

Add the sugar, blending with a large spoon or spatula until thoroughly mixed.  This will cool the pan. Your mixture has cooled so it will now be safe to add the egg without it scrambling.

Pour in eggs and blend thoroughly.  Slowly and gently blend in the sifted flour.

Your batter is done.


Notes- It is important that you sift the flour to prevent batter nuggets from forming.  Also, the over mixing of flour will cause the gluten in the flour to toughen, causing your cooked brownies to be tough and rubbery.  It is important that you mix in flour last, for this reason.



Pour the brownie batter into the foiled pan. 

Place pan in oven and let bake for 5 minutes.

To ensure even cooking throughout the pan, rotate pan 180 degrees. Continue baking until brownies begin to firm.

To ensure maximum moistness, remove the pan while brownies are firm but still somewhat sticky to the touch. This may seem difficult in reading.  Once you try it, you’ll find it will become easier

To check for firmness gently touch the brownies with your fingertips. As the brownies cool they will continue to firm up, but still remain moist.




Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. 

Loosen the foil around the edges of the pan then place a cutting board over the brownies.  Gently, but quickly, flip the brownies over resting the cutting board back on the counter. 

Lift up the pan and peel up the foil.  The brownies are ready to be cut.


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Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. 

Loosen the foil around the edges of the pan then place a cutting board over the brownies.  Gently, but quickly, flip the brownies over resting the cutting board back on the counter. 

Lift up the pan and peel up the foil.  The brownies are ready to be cut.



The Story


This recipe came to me one day innocently enough.  I had recently moved to North Carolina, the Tar Heel State, and settled in Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina whose sports teams are known as The Tar Heels.  I decided that it would be a great marketing idea to come up with a Tar Heel recipe. One Sunday as I stood in the bar room of the Carolina Inn, a drink recipe caught my eye.  It was the Tar Heel Tea.  An offshoot of the Mint julep, they steeped the mint when making the simple syrup and added some fresh lemon juice.  (For more on the Tar Heel Tea recipe, see pg. 77)

As I stood in the middle of the room staring at my reflection in the glass case doors, which were behind the bar, I decided that I would stick with bourbon and mint.  But what else to add I wondered?  Then I noticed behind my reflection was a cook, holding a plate of chocolate brownies.  It hit me, Tar Heel Chocolate Brownies.  But as the proof is in the pudding, or brownies in this case, I took a standard recipe I had come up with a few years before and added the key ingredients.  They turned out great.




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