Allez, Cuisine! Peppermint Bark Brownies

Claire Littlefield and Emma Ellis

For whatever reason, most people, even those who bake quite often, have a kind of mental block when it comes to the idea of making brownies from scratch. Brownies are something you buy or make from a boxed mix, and no one is really clear on exactly how they come to be. With a little extra effort, however, you can make dense, fudgy brownies with intense chocolate flavor at home.

 The only thing that makes brownies technically difficult is melting chocolate, which can be intimidating because chocolate is easy to burn. The solution is to melt the chocolate over very gentle, indirect heat. You can accomplish this with an improvised version of a double-boiler: boil water in a large pot, then set a metal or glass bowl on top of it. The rising steam will melt your chocolate much more evenly and effectively than a microwave could. As an added bonus, your whole apartment will start to smell like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

This recipe in particular will put your chocolate-melting skills to the test because it’s also topped with melted white chocolate and crushed peppermint sticks, which add style to these already luxurious brownies. The extra effort that goes into this recipe yields big rewards in taste, texture and visual wow factor, so if you’ve got someone to impress this Valentine’s Day, it’s a great one to have in your corner.

Ingredients:

Brownie:

4 oz baker’s chocolate

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

? tsp salt

Bark Topping:

? bag of white chocolate chips (about 2 cups)

6-8 peppermint candies (or 3-4 candy canes), crushed

 Yield: 18 brownies

 Process:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler over low heat.

3. When the butter and chocolate are melted, add in the sugar and vanilla extract. After this step, the batter will appear gritty, like wet sand.

4. Remove the batter from the heat and add the eggs one at a time, stirring to completely combine each one before adding the next. If you rush this step, you run the risk of curdling them, and no one wants scrambled eggs in their brownie.

5. Add the salt, then gradually add in the flour.

6. When the flour is completely incorporated, pour the batter into a greased or parchment-lined 13×9 inch pan.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center is set and slightly puffed.

8. Set the brownies aside to cool completely. If you try to top the brownies with the bark before they are at room temperature, things are going to get messy.

9. To make the peppermint bark topping, melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler. Since white chocolate is the easiest to overheat, it’s a good idea to remove the chocolate from the heat slightly before the chips are entirely melted. If you keep stirring, the residual heat will do the rest.

10. Pour the chocolate over the brownies, spreading it to form a thin and even layer over the entire surface. Then sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint candy pieces.

11. Chill in the refrigerator until the bark is set, at least 30 minutes.