People love the entertaining culinary lore behind recipes, so I wish I could tell you that this one resulted when a resourceful baker ran out of nuts and threw some crushed peppermint candies into her brownie batter. And that the spontaneous act opened up a new, exciting chapter of brownie history. But the truth is that I just like chocolate and peppermint together and wanted to come up with an appealing holiday twist on the classic brownie, which, as it turns out, was a very tasty idea! Note that if you happen to have oil of peppermint on hand, a few drops will definitely add extra pep to the minty–fudgy flavor.
Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett. Photography by Diane Cu and Todd Porter. Copyright 2012.
|6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks||1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract|
|4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely broken or chopped||3 or 4 drops oil of peppermint, optional|
|1/4 cup finely crushed peppermint pinwheel hard candies plus 1 tablespoon more for garnish||1/4 teaspoon salt|
|2/3 cup granulated sugar||2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose white flour|
|2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder sifted after measuring, if lumpy||1/2 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate|
|2 large eggs, at room temperature|
Baking Preliminaries: Position rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing it to overhang on two opposite sides. Coat the foil with nonstick spray.
Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until fluid. Add the chocolate and crushed candy and stir constantly until completely melted and smoothly incorporated. Immediately remove from the heat; stir in the sugar and cocoa powder until evenly incorporated. Set aside until cooled to barely warm (if the mixture is too warm, it will cook the eggs).
Whisk the eggs, extract, oil of peppermint (if using), and salt into the cooled chocolate mixture until very smooth and glossy. Stir the flour into the mixture just until well blended. Turn out the batter into the foil-lined pan, spreading into an even layer, then smoothing out the top. Bake, middle rack, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 24 to 28 minutes; if the pick comes out with wet batter clinging to it, continue several minutes longer, then check again. Continue checking until just barely baked through. Immediately sprinkle some fi ne peppermint shards over top, if desired. Bake 1 minute longer, then let the pan cool on the rack.
For easiest cutting, refrigerate the brownies until chilled and fi rm. Lift them to a cutting board using the foil. Gently peel off and discard the foil. Trim off the edges all the way around, then cut into quarters in both directions to make 16 brownies. (Or cut as desired.)
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