Who wants to be running to the store for cookie ingredients on Christmas Eve? There are still presents to wrap and dinners to prep, there are kids underfoot and guests on their way.
Still, a fresh batch of cookies might be just the thing to give to the guests, as well as keep the kids busy.
Today’s cookie is one I’ve made several times, although not always in the same way. If you’re a regular baker, I’m almost certain, you have the ingredients handy.
Including the key ingredient: broken candy canes.
These brownies originated with “The Cookiepedia” by Stacy Adimando (Quirk Books, $18.95, 152 pages). They have very little flour and several eggs, so they land somewhere between chewy and cakey.
In her recipe notes, Adimando suggests stirring in white chocolate chips as an alternate version. I’ve tried that; I’ve also used as mix-ins those little caramel bits, regular chocolate chips and, finally, crushed peppermint candy.
In each case, the mix-in “disappeared” into the brownies, adding to the flavor and/or the texture but never changing the color or the look of the brownies.
See how brilliant this is? No one needs to know you’re using the broken candy canes to flavor these delicious brownies. They even work as dessert, with maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes 16 large or 25 small
Adapted by Kathy Morrison from “The Cookiepedia” by Stacy Adimando.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I like to use Hersey’s Special Dark)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy, the equivalent of 4 to 5 candy canes
Confectioner’s sugar, for sprinkling, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well a 9-inch square baking pan. (For pan preparation for easier removal, see testing and tasting notes below.)
Heat the butter until it’s just melted and set it aside. In the meantime, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Put the granulated sugar in a large bowl. Pour the butter into the sugar and bear until the mixture looks smooth and thick. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each until incorporated. Then add the vanilla.
Start adding in the flour mixture about a third at a time, beating after each addition to let the dry ingredients incorporate. When all the flour is mixed in, stir in the crushed peppermint.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean. Cool before cutting. Sprinkle on confectioner’s sugar before cutting, if using.
Testing and tasting
▪ To make sure the brownies come out easily, layer a piece of parchment paper on top of the greased pan, and grease that, too. Or, a method I like, line the ungreased pan with two crisscrossed pieces of foil so that they comes up the sides of the pan and hang over the sides, and then grease the foil.
▪ To crush the candy without a lot of mess, put the unwrapped pieces in a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag. Put the bag on a countertop or other flat surface and use a rolling pin or the blunt side of meat tenderizer to crush the pieces. Kids enjoy doing this. But, as I found out as a young mother, don’t hand your child a hammer and have him or her pound candy canes in a bowl. (I miss that bowl … but it was my own fault.)
▪ You can leave some large chunks of candy if you want, but I think this works best with pieces the size of chocolate chips or smaller. I’m too impatient to turn the candy into powder, but that’s an option. Or you could use a food processor to do that.
▪ Use a fine sieve to sprinkle on the confectioner’s sugar after the brownies are baked. If using the foil lining, use the “handle” pieces to remove the brownies to a cutting board, and cut them there.