Christmas Kitchen: Candy Cane Peppermint Brownies
After getting loads of work done in the pub on Sunday, I found it really hard to motivate myself on Monday. Most of my living space is full of boxes at the moment and I find it really hard to work in a mess, so to make myself feel like I was working I made Christmas brownies. A twist on my classic Super Simple 3-Step Chocolate Brownie recipe, they’re inspired by the Christmas I spent living in America where peppermint chocolate flavour is up there with mulled wine and cinnamon for festive flavours, and where I made my way through an insane number of boxes of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows (someone send me a box?)
It’s basically Christmas and everyone seems to have wound down for the holidays, so I’ll not keep you with anything more than the essential notes you’ll need to make these brownies. First, note that I’ve used After Eight chocolates to provide most of the peppermint flavour rather than extract, which would be too overpowering. If you can’t get them in your country, any thin mint chocolate will do. Second, don’t be tempted to sprinkle the brownies with crushed candy cane before they go in the oven, the candy cane pieces will just melt like those boiled sweets you use to make gingerbread house windows. Also, do sprinkle them on literally as you take the brownies out of the oven, or they won’t melt sufficiently to stick to the surface!
You’ll get 16 brownies out of this mixture, and as these are slightly more indulgent than my usual ones, I’d also say they’d make a fantastic weeknight dessert in the build up to the big day, served warm with a dollop of mint chocolate ice cream (perhaps my Mint Aero Ice Cream?) Otherwise they’ll keep in a tin for 2-3 days.
- 150g (10 tbsp) Unsalted Butter
- 300g (1 1/4 cups) Caster Sugar (Granulated if you are in the USA)
- 110g (3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) Cocoa Powder
- Large Pinch Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Eggs
- 120g (1/2 cup) Plain (All Purpose) Flour
- 12 After Eight Chocolates
- 2 Candy Canes, crushed
Heat your oven to 160 degrees (325 Fahrenheit). Place the butter, sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a medium to large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water, simmering but not boiling so the bottom of the bowl is not sitting in water. Gradually stir every few minutes until the butter has melted and everything is combined. The mixture should be smooth, but slightly gritty. Set aside, off the water to cool. Line a 8 inch square tin with foil or good quality baking parchment while the mixture cools a little (if you add the eggs right away they’ll cook and ruin your mixture!) Beat in the vanilla extract with a balloon whisk followed by the eggs one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the flour until the mixture is smooth and slightly glossy.
Spread half the mixture across the bottom of the lined pan, then lay the After Eight’s over the top. Cover with the rest of the mixture and smooth to make an even surface. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the surface of the brownie with crushed candy cane the moment you remove them from the oven, then allow to cool in the tin. Slice into 16 pieces, and enjoy!
If you’re after any more festive baking inspiration, now would be the time to make Mummy’s Mince Pies or her Classic Cheese Straws, my Orange & Festive Spice Biscuits, a Ginger & Pomegranate Cake (a great, lighter alternative to the classic Christmas fruit cake), or to go all out and make my Chocolate Yule Log with Brandy Crème Fraîche.