Wait, Christmas is over? Seriously? Is that why I can't find candy canes anywhere? But we haven't even had S's family Christmas yet! Luckily when we were at Michael's tonight buying a frame for a new print I bought for my office (the only thing I didn't get on my Christmas wish-list), I spotted a cardboard box on the floor full of of candy canes marked down to 29 cents per box. I grabbed a stack, but S shook his head and told me my Christmas chocolate and mint obsession had to end for at least ten months. So sad.
So you can consider this the holidays' last hurrah. Or a reason to rush out to scour the aisles of Target and WalMart for the last of the remaining sweet icons of the holiday season. Either way these brownies are totally delish. And if you're not a mint fan (I only know one of you and your excuse that you ate an entire tube of toothpaste as a kid is lame) then omit the mint extract and candy cane topping and you have what very well may be the best brownies I've ever made. Add some walnuts and I'm sure this will become your favorite brownie, ever. According to Sweet Pea's Kitchen the plain chocolate variety is one of Oprah's favorites. And you know Oprah has the best favorite things.
Peppermint Brownies (or plain chocolate, if you must)
1 c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
11 oz. dark chocolate, chopped or dark chocolate chips
1 t. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 t. vanilla extract
2 t. mint extract (omit for plain chocolate)
1 1/4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 candy canes, crushed (omit for plain chocolate)
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts for plain chocolate variety
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with a non-stick cooking spray like Pam. Submerge either a metal bowl or a smaller pot in a pot of water to make a large double boiler. Combine the butter, chocolate pieces and espresso powder in the bowl and bring the water in the surrounding pot to a boil. Stir frequently until the butter and chocolate melts and is smooth.
When the mixture has melted, remove the bowl or pot from the water and stir in the sugars. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. While you wait, in a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
When the chocolate mixture is cooled to room temperature, stir in the extracts and three eggs until just combined. Mix in the remaining two eggs. Be sure not to over mix or you won't end up with delicious fudgey brownies. Fold the dry mixture into the chocolate with a rubber spatula, until just combined. Smooth the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating once halfway through the baking time. Brownies are done when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it, do not over-bake.
Remove the brownies from the oven and shut the oven off. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top of the brownies and return to the warm oven for one minute, just to slightly melt the candy. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.