‘Tis the season for spending all your spare time attending holiday parties and running out of ideas for delicious things to contribute to the spread at each one. I’ve been to two parties already and have four to go, including my own. I am STRESSED. There’s overlap in the guest lists of each party so I can’t get away with just making a giant batch of the same thing for each one. That’s the culinary equivalent of wearing the same outfit four parties in a row. Not happening. Given this challenge I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about baked goods that are festive, delicious, simple, portable, and versatile. Cookies are an obvious one, but everyone makes cookies at the holidays so I kept thinking until my period came and the hormonal wave that crashed over me demanded that I only think about, crave, and eat as much chocolate as humanly possible. Flash forward to me impulse buying a giant chocolate bar and some eggnog to wash it down with and somehow coming out of the sugar rush that ensued with the idea for this post, brownies. Almost everyone loves brownies! How could you not? They’re fudgey and cakey, good warm or cold, you can put basically anything in them, they travel nicely, and go with everything from coffee to ice cream to emotional breakdowns when your party ends and you see all the cleaning that has to be done and need edible support. Perfect.
I was set on brownies, and given that candy canes and peppermints are my favorite holiday candy thanks to years of having them handed to me by my grandma when I’d get antsy in church, I knew I wanted them involved too. I went with mini candy canes because they’re cute.
You may have guessed by now that I have a habit of making decisions about food based on cuteness. Plus chocolate chips for obvious also hormonally-driven reasons. The result is literally the dreamy chocolatey holiday brownie of my ovaries’ dreams. The candy canes melt into the brownie, leaving little soft minty bites spread throughout and the chocolate chips really put them over the edge in the best way. I had two friends over when I made them and within 5 minutes of cutting the brownies we’d eaten half of them, washed them down with eggnog, and settled in for a much-deserved chocolate coma. I promise you these brownies will be a hit at any party you host or attend this holiday season, assuming they make it there before you eat them all.
Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Brownies
5 oz candy cane or peppermint (this was about 22 mini candy canes )
8oz (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons strong coffee OR 1tsp instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180g) all purpose flour
1 cup (100g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside
2. Place candy canes in a plastic bag and smash them like the patriarchy or the president’s face with a rolling pin or anything heavy like bottle or a jar. Stop when you have a mixture of medium and small sized pieces; you don’t want to totally pulverize it even though it would feel incredible to do so.
Next, sift the candy cane dust you’ve created from the larger pieces and set both aside.
3. In a large bowl whisk together melted butter and granulated and brown sugar until smooth and glossy, about two minutes. Next whisk in eggs one at time, then add coffee/espresso powder and vanilla and whisk until incorporated, about one minute more. Set aside. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until about halfway combined.
4. Next, add the candy cane dust, half the broken candy cane pieces, and the chocolate chips to the batter and fold in just until everything is combined.
5. Pour the batter into your prepared, buttered baking dish (or grab it and butter it now if you forgot) then sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces on top.
6. Make sure you’ve got the top well covered with candy cane, then bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. You want to just underbake the brownies because they’ll continue to cook while they cool, so test them with a toothpick, chopstick, or small knife at 20 minutes by poking it into the center of the pan and pulling it back out. It should come out with crumbs stuck to it but not smeared with batter. (forgot a pic of this part, sorry!)
7. Cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes, then cut and continue to cool on a baking rack
8. You know what to do!