This holiday season I’ve experienced a slow decline in health. I haven’t gone into a full blown ulcerative colitis flare yet, but it has been getting worse. One of the signs was my physical reaction to these little bits of heaven. I got to eat what you’re seeing but unfortunately afterwards I felt hung over and exhausted. I tend to be more sensitive to sugar when my ulcerative colitis flares up. So everyone else enjoyed them while I distanced myself from all the sugary goodness of the Christmas season. I’m able to have small servings of sugary things but nothing extravagant. And these brownies are the definition of extravagance.
Even though I wasn’t able to eat, I’m sticking to my planned post. This brings me to my second seasonal meal obsession: dessert and the holiday tradition of adding peppermint to EVERYTHING. Yep, I’m joining the bandwagon. Okay-in reality I’ve always been on this bandwagon. During Christmas many people think of cookies. I am no exception to the rule and next year I’ll probably share the cookies that have always been part of my Christmas. But this year, I decided to take my best dessert recipe and add peppermint to it.
Family and friends can’t get enough of the Death by Chocolate Brownies with Espresso. Seriously, I’ve never made brownies as much as I have this year. The holiday version really is a simple re-mix. In place of the 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips you use 1 cup chopped Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark.
This adds a very slight peppermint taste to the brownies. I honestly was expecting more. If you want your brownies to really get the flavor, I would replace the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon peppermint extract. That should really do it.
I’ll briefly repeat some of the sage advise from the original brownie post:
- MUST line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper so you can lift them out of the pan once COMPLETELY cooled. I know I know. You want to eat them when they’re warm and gooey. But really, they are just as gooey at room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in 20 second intervals until smooth and glossy, stirring with a spatula.
- Chocolate covered espresso beans are a must. They’re the not-so-secret ingredient. Pulse them in a food processor, getting them as fine as possible.
- There is a thick brownie mix and a liquid fudge mix. Before you add the fudge mix, which has all the hot melted butter, the brownie mix is very thick and hard to stir. This was the first time I made the brownies since the weather has gotten really cold and some of the chocolate actually solidified in my stainless steel mixing bowl. I would suggest using a plastic mixing bowl or make sure you are mixing near the preheated oven.
- The brownies are done when the edges begin to pull away from the pan.
We’ve been experimenting with what to pour all over them. Espresso and coffee is still the all time favorite. But Kahlua is a close second followed by Baileys. I hope these fulfill your holiday cravings of peppermint and chocolate. Happy holidays!
Peppermint Espresso Brownies
- 8 ounces coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons finely ground chocolate covered espresso beans
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 cup chopped Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark about 11 squares
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup finely ground chocolate covered espresso beans
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 14 tablespoons butter melted
- 4 tablespoons boiling water
Espresso without a machine
- 16 ounce French press
- 4 tablespoons freshly ground coffee grind it so it is slightly coarser than store-bought ground coffee
- 2 cups near boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the 8 ounces coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate in 20 second intervals, stirring between each until completely melted.
Pour into a large mixing bowl and let cool while you prepare the fudge mix.
Put the chocolate covered espresso beans in a food processor and pulse until they resemble a fine powder.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the unsweetened cocoa powder, finely ground chocolate covered espresso beans, brown sugar, and powdered sugar. Beat in the melted butter until blended and then stir the boiling water into the mixture, making a smooth paste. Set aside.
Beat the granulated and brown sugars into the melted chocolate until incorporated.
Beat the eggs in one at a time on low speed. Only mix until just incorporated.
Beat in the vanilla or peppermint extract on low speed.
Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, ground espresso beans, and salt until combined.
Pour the fudge mix into the brownie mix and fold, but only a little (you want the two mixes to not completely combine). Fold in the peppermint bark.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges begin to pull a little away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the brownies cool in the pan completely and then lift them out by pulling on the parchment paper. Cut into squares and then prepare the espresso.
Espresso without a machine
Put the ground coffee at the bottom of the French press and pour in 2 cups near boiling water.
Stir with a long spoon and then place the lid on top. Brew for 4 minutes.
Slowly press the plunger down until it stops.
As you let it settle, put the brownies in bowls and top with vanilla ice cream.
Slowly pour the strongly brewed coffee (meant to mimic espresso shots) over the ice cream and brownies and serve.
Recipe NotesThis goes well with espresso and coffee, Kahlua, or Baileys poured on top. The family favorite is plain espresso/coffee followed closely by the Kahlua.
With only the peppermint bark alone, the peppermint flavor is very slight. If you want it stronger, replace the vanilla extract with peppermint extract.