02 December 2012

Peppermint Brownies

In our home, the day after Thanksgiving is dedicated to unpacking Christmas decor and sprucing up the house.  All the turkeys are tucked away for another year, replaced by penguins, snowmen and candy cane stripes.  But once the house is ready, I get ready for my favorite weekend in December:  Cookie Wekend.  Two straight days of dough-making, followed by a week of cookie baking (last year we made 36 dozen for ourselves friends and family).  It is a weekend spent covered in flour and a perpetual smile.  To say I love Christmas cookies is an understatement.

Despite being known as Cookie Weekend, it always includes a brownie.  And not just any brownie...the dessert that haunts my dreams all year until the holiday season is once again upon us.  Topped with festive green mint frosting and bits of candy cane, this decadent treat sets the stage for the season.

Growing up, there was always an unmentioned competition in my family to get your share of these decadent squares before they were all gone.  My mom was a shameless promoter of the game, leaving a knife underneath the foil that covered the brownie pan in the refrigerator.  That way, when we'd go peek to see how much the others had eaten, it was impossible not to cut off a little slice for yourself.  I mean, the knife was already there and all.....

I am an unabashed brownie snob (thanks mom!).  Growing up, they came from bakers chocolate squares, sugar and eggs.  I literally didn't know that brownies could come from a box until college. Not when from-scratch brownies such as these are so easy to make.  This one-pot recipe will turn out the fudgiest, richest and most decadent brownies you've pulled out of your oven.  One bite and you will never want go back to the box.  

Though my mom's basic recipe is made year-round, Peppermint Brownies only come out at Christmas.  A thin layer of green peppermint icing is spread across the cooled brownies, topped with another layer of melted dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.  (Please feel free to stop and wipe the drool from your chin.)  This succulent treat has the flavor of Thin Mints but the feel of fudge.  They are crazy good when kept cold in the refrigerator (preferably with a knife).   Add that little crunch of candy on top and you have a perfect holiday dessert.

Please note the teeth marks above.  Again, I emphasize the fudgy-ness of these brownies.

As a word of wonderful warning, these are very, very rich.  If you cut off a huge chunk, you will probably pass out from sugar shock.  These are perfect to cut into little bite-sized brownies and served slightly chilled.  Plus, then you can eat 7 or 8 without feeling so guilty.  They're just little ones, right?

Peppermint Brownies
  • 1 c unsalted butter
  • 4 squares (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate (I always use Bakers)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp peppermint extract (to taste)
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2-3 candy canes, smashed to smithereens (I favor the Ziplock bag & hammer method)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 pan.  Place a 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the 1 cup of butter and 4 squares of chocolate, stirring constantly.  When completely melted, remove the pan from the heat.  Add the sugar and stir together well.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Add the eggs individually, beating well after the addition of each, until well blended.  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the flour and salt, stirring until well mixed.  Pour into the greased baking dish, using a rubber spatula to scrape in the batter.  Shake the pan to distribute evenly.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  Be sure not to over bake.  Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 2 hours.  

To make the mint frosting, combine butter, powdered sugar, peppermint extract and food coloring in a medium bowl.  Add the milk and beat together with a hand mixer.  Spread in a thin, even layer over the cooled brownies.  Cover the pan and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour so the frosting can set.

Combine the 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan.  Melt completely over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove brownies from the refrigerator and uncover.  Drizzle the chocolate over the top of the brownies, then quickly smooth into a smooth and even layer with the back of a large dinner spoon.  Be sure to smooth gently so the mint frosting layer is not disturbed.  Sprinkle with candy cane pieces.  Cover and place back in the refrigerator until the top layer has hardened, about 30 minutes.  Cut into small pieces to serve, or just leave in the pan with a knife.  Brownies will keep until eaten (which won't be long....)

No comments:

Post a Comment