January 11, 2015

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Snowflake Brownies

These brownies make me angry. (That's my secret Cap; I'm always angry. ilu Bruce Banner)

It's not the flavor. They taste really good. It's not the texture-- they're not quite as fudgy in the middle as I would like, but fudgy enough to satisfy me.

What gets me about these brownies is that they're such a tease. Roll back to Christmas Eve. I was making cookie cups to give as presents, but I needed something else. Then I remembered I had this silicone snowflake pan from forever ago. I'd make snowflake cupcakes and add them to the presents!

Except the recipe I used was too light and fluffy and the cakes fell apart when I tried to take them out of the pan. No problem, I was planning on making these brownies to serve for dessert anyway, so I'd just switch up my plans. I baked the rest of the cake batter in a regular pan and whipped up the brownie batter.

I decided to do a test brownie so I wouldn't waste too much batter if they didn't come out. That sucker came out abso-frickin-lutely perfectly.

By that time, I was running late, and I had promised my mother I'd make her green bean salad since she had to work, so I covered the bowl of batter, grabbed the silicone pan and went to my parents' house to finish up there.

Except the next batch I pulled out of the oven fell apart when I tried to take it out of the pan. I ran back home, grabbed the ingredients to make more, and made a second batch. This one I baked for a few minutes longer, and let cool for as long as I could, and they still fell apart. I didn't have time to try again, and ended up feeling a bit miserly as everyone only got three pieces of fudge and two cookie cups for presents.

If the tester hadn't come out so perfectly, this wouldn't upset me as much as it did
You make me so angry, you perfect little snowflake

I figured the key for the brownies to come out of the pan properly was to add those extra few minutes to the baking time, and to chill them before trying to take them out of the pan (the second batch, while I'd let it cool for half an hour, I still felt some residual heat, and the tester was left neglected while I did other stuff, so it was cooling for probably over an hour.)

Once again, I went to make the brownies, armed with the knowledge earned from those past defeats, and... I accidentally mixed up my 1/3 cup measure with my 1/4 cup measure and added too much flour. I forged ahead anyway, figuring that this would make them denser and less fudgy, but that could only help me at this point.

When I finally popped them out of the pan, I was ready to rejoice, as they didn't break coming out, but I looked at them, and I don't know if I used too much cooking spray, or if it was because the batter was too thick, but there were air bubbles in the surface so you could barely see the pan's design. At that point I decided I was completely done with these brownies, so I just dusted them with sugar and covered them with sprinkles and took photos.
If you decide to be a normal person and make them in a pan, these brownies are delicious. Like I said, they're not quite fudgy enough for me, but they're a good compromise for people who like fudgy brownies and people who like cakey brownies. My family was very happy that the brownies didn't come out, since they got what my brother dubbed the sad brownie mountain (I just threw all of the broken pieces onto a plate, and they piled up) and they completely demolished it. I left all the brownies with them, since I couldn't bear to look at them.

These are basically the same as my Chocolate Pudding Brownies, except I used dark chocolate hot cocoa mix instead of instant fudge powder, and I added peppermint extract and Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips. You can't go wrong with chocolate and peppermint, and I love those peppermint baking chips because they still give a little crunch, but don't stick to your teeth like crushed candy canes do. Of course, any peppermint candy would do if you don't have the baking chips. You could even stir in some mini York Peppermint Patties.

In summation, don't use a snowflake pan. And also make these brownies.
Peppermint Hot Cocoa Snowflake Brownies
Yield: 12 brownies


2/3 cup sugar
9 tbsp. quality dark chocolate hot cocoa mix
½ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup milk or cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. peppermint extract
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup peppermint baking chips
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil, and lightly spray with nonstick
cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, hot cocoa mix, flour, and salt. Mix in eggs, butter, milk, vanilla, and peppermint extract, and stir until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips and peppermint chips. Spread evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges pull away from the pan. Cool and dust with powdered sugar.

If making in a silicone snowflake pan: Generously grease each cavity with nonstick cooking spray. Add 1/4 cup of batter to each cavity. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator up to 30 minutes. Remove from pan and let come to room temperature before serving. Makes 9 snowflake brownies.

Note: the silicone pan I use was roughly comparable to a jumbo cupcake tin. If using a smaller pan, use less batter and reduce the baking time.

Recipe adapted from my middle school Home Ec class (original source unknown)
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