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A brownie treat that bridges the holidays to warmer weather

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This is the treat that’s going to help you bridge the gap between the fun of summer and the warmth of the holidays.

We start with a basic but intensely rich brownie, then we mix in chopped mint candies for that unmistakable holiday flavour. But to get us back to thoughts of warmer weather, we top the entire thing with a marshmallow frosting. And for good measure, we toast the marshmallow, too.

Not so hung up on mint? There are plenty of other ways to go. Try leaving out the mints (and mint extract) and mixing broken chunks of graham cracker into the brownies. Now you have s’mores brownies. Or for the ultimate indulgence, replace the mints with chopped peanut butter cups.

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TOASTED MINT-MARSHMALLOW BROWNIES

Start to finish: 1 hour, plus cooling

Makes 16 brownies

For the brownie layer:2 cups packed brown sugar

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup extra-dark cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup chopped chocolate-mint candies (such as Andes Creme de Menthe)

For the marshmallow frosting:1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin (less than a packet)

4 egg whites

1 teaspoons peppermint extract

Heat the oven to 350 F. Mist a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brown sugar, melted butter, salt and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Stir in the flour and cocoa powder just until mixed, then stir in the chocolate mint candies. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just set at the centre.

When the brownies are done, make the frosting.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, combine 1 cup of the sugar, 1/4 cup of the water and the corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, heat until the mixture reaches 240 F.

While the mixture boils, in a small bowl or cup, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 2 tablespoons of water, ensuring that it all gets moistened.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until very foamy. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until soft peaks form. It’s important to time the sugar syrup and the egg whites to finish at close to the same time. Adjust the speed of the mixer or the heat of the burner to speed up one or slow down the other.

Once the sugar syrup reaches 240 F and the egg whites are at soft peaks, with the mixer running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Add the gelatin mixture immediately after, then scrape down the bowl to ensure that it’s all mixed in. Beat until just warm, then stir in the extract. Spread the warm frosting over the cooked brownies.

Using a creme brulee torch or the broiler of your oven, carefully toast the top of the marshmallow frosting to the desired degree of brown, turning the pan to prevent any burnt spots. Allow to fully cool before cutting. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 5 days.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories; 130 calories from fat (34 per cent of total calories); 15 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 190 mg sodium; 60 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 46 g sugar; 5 g protein.

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Alison Ladman is a chef, food writer and recipe developer for The Associated Press. She also owns The Crust and Crumb Baking Company in Concord, New Hampshire.

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