Peppermint Crunch Brownies

Peppermint Crunch Brownies

Somebody pinch me.

I must be dreaming. Sweet, sweet dreams of peppermint bliss sandwiched between layers of chocolate heaven. It must be Christmas time. 

About a week ago I was walking down Fifth Ave in Manhattan on a Sunday, having just finished some Christmas shopping and as the store display lights flickered on and the sky got darker the saxophone sounds of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas drifted from across the street corner and I thought to myself... "This. This is one of those magical moments in New York where everything seems idyllic. The type of moment that people try to capture in songs and movies."

Once in awhile you get lucky, when you aren't being shoved around a store or on the bustling sidewalk, and you get to experience a little of the magic that exists in New York at Christmas. Dare I say it; the city sidewalks might be even better than Bing Crosby sang about.

Now wherever you are for the holidays this is a recipe for the ages. Seriously; jot it down and store it in a safe place. You're going to want to keep your hands on this one.

Let's chat Peppermint and Chocolate folks. In my humble opinion, it's one of the best food flavor marriages to ever exist. I am sure there others out there who must agree. Peppermint is the taste that captures the whole of December. Crisp, cool, and somehow comforting. After my first bite of this Peppermint Crunch Brownie I knew I was a goner. Thank the Lord I have friends to pawn my treats off on or else I would have twenty cavities and a brownie gut. A brownie gut is what brownie addicts get. It's kind like a beer gut except it's filled with chocolate. It's a weird life I live. 

Put on some Harry Connick Jr. circa 1993, warm up that hot cocoa, bite into one of these little pieces of deliciousness and be transported into your own Christmas wonderland. 

DSC_5426 copy.jpg

Double Chocolate Brownies
based on Martha's recipe

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter and then line a square baking dish with parchment paper: do not skip this step. The butter helps the parchment stick to the pan and is not entirely necessary. The parchment paper is. 

Melt 8 oz of chocolate and stick of butter in double-boiler, stirring consistently. Remove bowl from boiler and let cool on the counter until the bottom of the glass is cool to the touch. This should take about 15 minutes.

Once chocolate and butter have cooled, stir in sugar with a large wood spoon. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use a handmixer or beater for this step. It will make your batter fluffy which in turn means more air in your batter which in turn means dry brownies. You do not want those turns because who wants a dry brownie? No one I know.

Gently mix in eggs, one at a time until all are combined. Stir in vanilla extract and salt. 

Fold in flour making sure to stir batter consistently. You don't want to find any powdery surprises when you go to pour this into your baking dish. Consistency should be somewhat thick. Once batter is uniform you can stir in those baking chocolate chips. Pour your viscous batter into parchment lines baking dish, using a butter knife or frosting spatula to spread evenly. 

Bake on 350°F for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out (mostly) clean. A little underdone is okay because that means a gooier brownie. Let brownies cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least an hour before adding on peppermint topping.

Peppermint Topping

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 

In a stand mixer whip butter and powdered sugar together on low speed until combined. Add in extracts and cream at a slow speed. Increase speed to medium until the mixture is viscous and thick. Add in one teaspoon of oil at this time until you get a spreadable consistency. you can also use more heavy cream in this step if you'd prefer not to use oil. Your call, baby. 

Once you have the consistency you'd like to spread with (it will get thicker once refrigerated), glop onto chilled brownies and spread evenly. Cover and place in the freezer for at least twenty minutes before pouring ganache and crushed candy canes over the top. 

Chocolate Ganache

  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 8 oz high quality chocolate, finely chopped
  • optional: 2 crushed candy canes

In a small saucepan heat heavy cream over a low heat until small bubbles form. Do not let it get to a roiling boil or you will burn the cream. Pour hot liquid over chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Whisk quickly until the chocolate is melted. Let the ganache cool for fifteen minutes until thickened. 

Pour slightly warm ganache over chilled peppermint brownies and place in the refrigerator for twenty or thirty minutes to set completely. 

Finally add crushed candy canes to the top and serve immediately. All that hard work is about to pay off...