Ode to the Cranberries and Mint Chocolate Brownies

Does anyone care?
Does anyone care?
Does anyone care?
Does anyone care?
Does anyone care?

When I was in high school, I listed to the Cranberries’ No Need to Argue album on a constant loop. Dolores O’Riordan has one of the most beautiful, effective and haunting voices I’ve ever heard. You can feel the emotion with every note and vocal acrobatic twist. I reveled in the lyrics and the music; each word and note conveyed so much.

I felt a lot as a teenager. Most of the time it was deep, dark and angsty. I would constantly fall into black pits of depression, so angry at the world. I had a terrible relationship with my father. I was supremely insecure. This album represents a large part of the soundtrack for my messed up teenage years.

There is so much turmoil during high school. Even though as an adult, you look back and think, it was never as bad as I thought it was, when you’re at that stage, living through all of those crazy hormones and emotions, struggling to find your place in the world, it’s all so stark and real and hopeless. This music helped me through. It gave voice to what I was feeling.

To this day, when I hear these songs, they bring tears to my eyes. They bring me right back to how I felt in 1994 when I was just 14.

I mean, look at the lyrics to one of my favourite songs from the album, Empty:

Something has left my life,
And I don’t know where it went to.
Somebody caused me strife,
And it’s not what I was seeking.

Didn’t you see me, didn’t you hear me?
Didn’t you see me standing there?
Why did you turn out the lights?
Did you know that I was sleeping?

Say a prayer for me,
Help me to feel the strength, I did.
My identity, has it been taken?
Is my heart breakin’ on me?

All my plans fell through my hands,
They fell through my hands on me.
All my dreams it suddenly seems,
It suddenly seems,

So damn haunting. She sings the word “empty” for several minutes and in those few minutes, that’s all she has to say. The melancholy sounds of the strings in the background match the desolation of that striking word.


I felt empty.

I feel empty.

The despair and hopelessness in her voice when she softly sings “disappointment” over and over again at the end of Disappointment slays me.

The fire, ferocity and anger in a song like Ridiculous Thoughts:

Geez, I totally forgot Elijah Wood was in that video!

They don’t make music like this anymore. If I transported my all-black wearing, Doc Marten-booted, morbid, depressed, melodramatic teenaged self into today’s world, what would I cling to at night, lying in bed with all the lights off and no one there but my own damaged thoughts to keep me company? What would I be listening to on my Discman today?

Sidenote: remember Discmans? Before they were invented, we used to record songs off the radio, curse when the djs were still talking at the beginning of the song, and listen to cassette tapes on our Walkmans until the tape got all tangled. Discmans were revolutionary when they came out!

I don’t know why I’ve been feeling melancholy lately. I’ve had this album playing on a loop in my car after work as I try to escape the stress of my workdays.

I’ve been self-medicating with the Cranberries and dark chocolate mint brownies.
Not too bad of a plan.
Mint Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (like Sally, I also used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tsp mint extract
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup mint chocolate chips (or regular if that’s what you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving the sides longer so that you can lift your brownies out after baking.

Place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments until the butter is completely melted. Don’t worry – the mixture is supposed to look gritty. Set it aside for five minutes to allow the butter to cool.

Stir in the mint extract, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the flour and mix until fully combined. Don’t overmix the batter. Add your mint chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. I sprinkled a handful of chocolate chips over top.

Bake for 25 minutes. If a cake tester comes out with only a few crumbs, the brownies are done. Keep baking another five minutes if the brownies are still liquidy.

Allow the brownies to completely cool before cutting into squares. I cut mine the next day and they were the perfect texture. These are satisfyingly dense with an intense mint flavour, which is exactly what I was going for. I stored mine in the fridge because I like them cold and fudgy but you can keep them on the counter in an air tight container as well.
Seriously, these will cure whatever ails ya.

27 thoughts on “Ode to the Cranberries and Mint Chocolate Brownies

  1. I totally remember the discman. I started off with a walkman and moved up to a discman. Man, I miss the simple days. These brownies look amazing, and they’re intensly dark and scrumptious looking. If I’m ever sad, I’ll be sure to munch on one of these.

  2. That Special Dark is fabulous. I use it too and I’ve never seen such BLACK brownies. Sorry you are feeling so melancholy. Hope the beautiful blackies helped.

  3. Except for the relationship with our fathers did we live the same teenage years because oh man was I a moody one. For a few months I had good reason (back surgery during my senior year, it was totally legit for me to hold the amount of tantrums that I did). The rest? Total drama, my poor parents were saints. Oh the 90’s, I miss the 90’s. Do you watch Portlandia? The first episode of the first season they have a really funny song about the 90’s you have got to watch it. I also spent hours listening to the radio for the perfect moment to record my favorite song and then later making mix cds. Playlists are not the same thing. It isn’t as fun to hand them off to your friends. Pffft, kids these days. Also before my tangent ends, I love how deep and dark your brownies are. Scrumptious!

  4. It sounds like you and I were very similar in high school. I had heavy dark emotions too! These brownies seem like a good way to work through those melancholy feelings. The process of baking does so much good for my soul! And these look delicious too. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. Your words and comments always make me smile. You are a bright soul!

  5. I regret to inform you that 2.0 and I like to sing along to Linger with the following (and we feel improved) lyrics: Did you have to pull my finger? Did you have to, did you have to, Did you have to pull my fiiiiinger?

    Also, those brownies are rockin’ my angst-filled world. WORD.

  6. My darling Nancy Seto…I’m sorry you are feeling blue…Does it help to remind you that you are a rock star in the food blogosphere and are beloved by many? And you don’t need me to tell you that your smart mind and witty words are treasured by many, also…Hopefully, the blues will pass with a few delectable mint chocolate brownies and a cuddle with Abbey =)

  7. OMG Nance, the cranberries! Short haired Dolores playing Ode to my Family and No need to Argue, that image will never leave my mind. A voice like so few ever existed. And about your actual moment, I can’t say it better than Kim above. It will pass my friend.

  8. These look and sounds delicious! Definitely something to be happy about, in my opinion. Also, I loved the cranberries in high school. I had very little to be angsty about, then –but I faked it quite well to fit in. How lame is that? haha!

  9. I make this recipe all the time. It’s the Alice Medrich recipe and I’ve doctored it up, trashed it up (with tons of candy, caramel sauce, etc.) and you just can’t go wrong with how fudgy it is. Once I realized how popular it is, I felt like the last person to know about it! From Sally to Smitten Kitchen with like 3000 comments on her post about it, you’d just NEVER guess it was cocoa powder rather than melted choc! And whenever I use the special dark my brownies are so dark that I can hardly photograph them..LOL. Yours look AMAZING and so fudgy and perfect!!

  10. Oh those days. Everything felt a little bit BIGGER those days, didn’t they? When I hurt, I hurt like my brand new puppy died in my arms. When I was happy, I felt like I’d just won the lottery. When I was brooding, I could give death stares like an angry cat. What a wild rollercoaster those years were! It makes me thankful for the more leveled off feelings of these days, and also grateful that at least now I know how to bake to soothe a bad day. I think these brownies could cure just about any melancholy.

  11. Such a heartfelt beautiful post, Nancy. Even as a mom I hated going through HS mostly cause’ the PTA moms were mean to me. Not that all PTA moms are mean. I think it’s such a transitional difficult age but what a beautiful human that you are emerged! 🙂 ‘ll Love this cranberry mint chocolate brownies. I would have have never thought of pairing mint with cranberries. Thx for the spectacular idea. BTW was nice meeting you too! Next year? 🙂

  12. I just figured out that I’m probably your mother’s age…yikes. But that’s my elderly angst speaking…nothing like the teenage version! Your brownies look incredible…all 3 of my kiddos adore the chocolate-mint combo, so I’ll have to bake them up a batch. Rich, decadent, amazing!

    PS…thank you for your most kind and thoughtful comment. Seattle was a great escape from my worries…I loved the distraction of meeting friends like you in person, all the yummy food and seminars. xo

  13. I’m sorry you’re feeling down, but I loved the way you expressed your feelings and emotions. I’m sure a lot of people can benefit from your words. Those brownies look delicious too. They look like the perfect “pick me up!” I hope you have a great weekend. 😉

  14. Oh man. You know, I was just reflecting today on how funny it is that, as big-bad as the grown-up stresses seem sometimes, they still pale in comparison with the all-encompassing angst that we went through as teenagers. I was thinking about how stressful it’s going to be to be at the office til 3 AM, worrying about deposition outlines and whatnot, and how somehow, that still doesn’t compare to the kind of nervous, anxiety-ridden search for identity of my teenage years. Funny, huh? But if anything can help, I bet it’s these unbelievable brownies. I can’t wait to whip out the mint chocolate combo for Christmas season! Sorry to hear that you’re feeling down — I’m sure I’ll be able to commiserate soon — but glad these brownies came out of it! Good luck, Nancy!

  15. This brought me back in time as well Nancy! Music is so special for having the power to do that. Sorry that you’ve been feeling melancholic lately, although sometimes it feels nice to feel such emotion, especially if you accompany it with good music and these mint chocolate brownies! By the way…could you just be experiencing Post-IFBC blues? 😉 Just kidding!

  16. High school is a time of angst for all, whether caused by real or perceived injustices. When my daughter was in high school I shared with her all the liberating, empowering realizations I came to after 40. I wish she could have profited from my ancient wisdom (ok, not wisdom exactly…ah ha moments?) and avoided some of life’s pitfalls, but it doesn’t work that way. We each have to walk our own path. For what it is worth, when I am down and am tired of feeling that way, I make an effort to surround myself with “up”. Music that enlivens as opposed to music that speaks to my sadness. Doing things that make others smile. Nothing improves my mood faster than making a difference (even teeny tiny difference) in someone else’s life. Sharing these brownies definitely qualifies. 🙂 I’m sending them in next week’s care package to my son for sure! Also, Nancy, to restate the obvious….lots of people…friends real and virtual…care. 🙂

  17. I remember loving the Cranberries too, in the 90’s, although I was already past that angsty stage. Thank goodness we’ve grown out of that! Growing up can be so hard. Loved hearing this beautiful music again, it gave me goosebumps. And your brownies look positively sinful 😉

  18. Holy wow, chocolate overload and in a perfectly good, healthy, I’d eat that for breakfast kinda way.
    How in the world did I miss this beautiful post? Your photos are amazing and they make me want to crawl through my screen and steal all of these. I mean, share them with you. :p

  19. can I tell you I feel similar feelings when I hear the Cranberries. They were such a strong part of my life in the 90’s when things were happening (love-love lost-life in general). What’s funny is I ran into a performance they did recently in Italy on our Rai channel (Italian cable channel)and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen or listened to them in so long. Now guess what, my daughter thinks they’re super cool:)) Whoa-these brownies are so moody and dark and luscious and tempting. Love this post, Nancy!

  20. Oh Nancy, I’ve never seen such dark brownies! I love dark cocoa so much too and gave the same black result when using it, but as long as it tastes delicious that’s all that matters. Yours are beautifully photographed. Regarding your high school, um, girl I could relate to you so much, I had goosebumps. I’m an upbeat person now for the most part, but was very depressed in high school. I literally despised it for multiple reasons I won’t bother you with. But it was the hardest time of my life, I was totally alone and felt alone. I wouldn’t relive those days for anything. We’ll, actually maybe I would if I could be the person that I am now. Anyways, brownies make everything better. Cheer up my friend! You are awesome and I hope you feel better!!

  21. While I agree with the sentiment “it was never as bad as I thought it was,” I will also say that you couldn’t pay me enough money to re-live even one day of high school. I had a terrible time, and will hate my memories of it until the day I die. You’re in good company, girl. I remember always thinking “I can’t wait to grow up and get older,” and even now – I still kind of like getting older. People always say that that won’t last forever, but who are they to tell me what’s what. I like getting older and changing, dammit.

  22. hey Nancy! omg, i just read this!!! I’m such a terrible friend. . are you ok? just going thru a sad spell? dammit, i wish i had read this (i’m SO sorry!) then i could’ve given you a big hug when I saw you. . *HUGS* go hug Abby and i really hope you are feeling better. Chin up, my friend!

  23. Pingback: Mint Car Lyrics Cure

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