Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box

Peppermint Bark Brownies

December 05, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Holiday, Mint, Nut-Free


I adore this lil’ charmer . . . It’s just s’dang Christmassy!  (Substitution note for St. Patrick’s Day fans: You can also make it with green-and-white spearmint discs.)  So, so cute. Even in a small bite-sized piece, it’ll still pack a sweet little minty punch for your celebrations with family and friends.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! (You know you want to say it..... "Ding, dong, ding, dong!")

Gather 'round the kitchen counter, and I'll tell you a Christmas tale about a brownie that was on the "nice" list.

1 box brownie mix
Oil, eggs, and water as called for on the box

About 6-7 ounces of red or green mint candies (12-14 full-size candy canes), crushed

1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

1-1/2 c white chocolate chips
2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Mix the box mix as directed on the box. I like to use the “additional egg” recipe, available on most boxes. Bake as directed and allow them to cool completely.

While brownies are cooling, use a plastic zippered bag and a rolling pin to crush the candy canes. I saved a lot of wear-n-tear on my bag by beating it against the counter a few times before using the rolling pin.

Dealing with some holiday stress? Then THIS is your recipe!

Wield your rolling pin with confidence, power, and giddy cathartic joy. Those candies don’t stand a chance. If you have some pent-up holiday stress and are overly enthusiastic in your crushing, your poor plastic bag may get a few holes; in this event, just use a second bag. And consider therapy.

Use a sieve to sift the bigger pieces from the poufy, peppermint-y powder. But don’t throw away the powder, as it plays a very important role in our Christmas pageantry.

Shake it, sh-shake it, shake it, sh-shake it. Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

As you’re crushing, this rule of thumb will help you decide when to keep crushing and when to stop: Try to generate about 1/3 cup of powder and 2/3 cup of small pieces (small = somewhere between the size of a splinter and your pinkie nail.) Later in the recipe, the powder goes INTO the chocolate and the pieces will become your decorative topping.

Pro: Your kitchen will smell so good at this stage. Con: Your hands will be very sticky at this stage.

Before starting these next steps, wait until your brownies are completely cooled.

Put the semisweet chocolate into a microwave-safe container and add 1 and 1/2 tsp oil.

Don't omit the oil. It helps your chocolate stay pliable enough to cut, and keeps it from crumbling into pieces when your guests eat it.

Microwave the chocolate pieces on 50% power for about 1 minute. Stir.

Microwave on half-power -- and a little bit at a time, stirring in between -- to keep from scorching your chocolate.

Microwave on 50% for another 30 seconds. Stir.

If, after 90 seconds, your chocolate is not completely smooth, pop it in for another 20-30 seconds at half-power.

Repeat until there are no more lumps. Add 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract and mix. (Keep in mind, there is a BIG difference between peppermint extract and peppermint oil. The oil is MUCH stronger.)

Ooooh. Minty!

Working quickly, add PART of the peppermint powder, about one-third to one-half of it. Save the unused powder for later.

Don't pour ALL of your powder into the semisweet chocolate. Save some powder for your pretty top layer of white chocolate.

Mix the powder into the chocolate. Keep moving quickly, as you want to keep your chocolate warm, pourable, and spreadable for the next couple of minutes.

It's smooth and crunchy at the same time. Mmm, mmm.

Pour the semisweet chocolate onto the crust of your brownies.

Work quickly, while your chocolate is still warm and spreadable.

Spread the semisweet chocolate onto the crust of your brownies. Be careful not to scrape the surface of the brownies.

Move quickly but gently as you evenly spread your chocolate-and-powder mixture.

Put entire pan into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate layer has completely lost its shine. It should look dull/dry. If it’s still wet, you’ll have trouble spreading your second layer of white chocolate because you may ”pull up” the dark chocolate into the white layer. Be patient, and it will be a prettier result.

Now, do exactly the same with your white chocolate as you did with your semisweet chocolate (2 tsp oil, melt-mix-melt-mix, peppermint extract, peppermint powder). As reminders, see the pretty pictures below:

Make sure layer 1 is completely dry before spreading layer 2.

Be mindful of 2 things as you spread the white chocolate: 1) if you’re too rough, you risk “pulling up” the first layer, putting blotchy dark patches into your white layer; 2) if you’re too slow, your white layer will begin to dry and your decorative candy pieces won’t stick to the top. So, be quick and gentle.

For the last fun part, sprinkle the decorative candy pieces onto the top layer. Then use a spatula to press them into the warm, soft white chocolate layer.

Most people don't know there is a 9th reindeer named Sprinkle, who is best friends with Blitzen and Dasher.

IMPORTANT: Use a spatula to make sure your sprinkled decorative candies will stay put as your guests get incisor-deep into this treat. We don't want sticky candies falling onto your guests' festively dressed laps.

But wait! Here is perhaps the most important tip of all.

Are you listening?

This is important. I learned it the hard way.

Cut your brownies NOW. Don’t wait until tonight or tomorrow. Once those 2 top layers of chocolate are completely dried and set, it can get quite crumbly up there. This is your one chance to get pretty, straight cuts that don’t fall to pieces. So, after you get your spatula work done and all those candies are set into the white chocolate, grab a nice SHARP knife and get cutting. Cut now; serve tonight or tomorrow or later this week. You’ll be glad you did.

Such a pretty little darling, isn't she?

I hope you enjoy this brownie. Coworkers at my day job sure liked them! (A big “love ya” goes out to my Peppermint Bark Brownie beta-testers: Deanna, Ron, Bryan, Dylan, Jeremy, Alan, Trish, John, Tim, Grace, Desiree, Shane, Jason, Carrie, and Jen.)

Xs and Os for you and your loved ones at Christmas time! Have fun as you SHARE THE BROWNIE LOVE this year.