These rich dark chocolate Peppermint Brownies are topped with cream cheese frosting, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and candy cane bits to make them the perfect holiday indulgence!
I've been working on perfecting this brownie recipe for a while now. I've always been a big brownie fan - there is nothing better than a fudgy, chewy dark chocolate brownie.
The secret to these brownies is the addition of some espresso powder. Espresso makes the chocolate stronger and more intense, really giving the brownies a flavor pop. Add a little more chocolate in the form of ganache and top them with some candy cane for a bit of crunch to give you a festive holiday dessert.
Making Peppermint Brownies
Since there are a few layers to these brownies, there are a few steps in the recipe. But don't worry, it's not complicated.
First, you start with the actual brownie. This is an easy, one-bowl recipe. The first step is melting the chocolate, which is easily done in the microwave. Then you start adding in the ingredients - sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, vanilla, eggs and finally the flour. This makes a really thick batter that you'll spread into an 8x8 baking pan. Then into the oven goes the baking pan.
Next, comes the cream cheese frosting. Before you can add the frosting the brownies need to be fully cooled, so I usually make them at least 2 hours before I want to serve them. You can even make the brownies the day before. For the frosting, you'll be combining the butter, cream cheese and sugar and beating it with a hand mixer to create a nice, fluffy frosting layer.
Then, drizzle the chocolate sauce or chocolate ganache. Ganache is very easy to make - it only has two ingredients, chocolate and heavy cream. Don't be tempted to substitute half and half or milk - you'll end up with a lumpy mess. Trust me, I've tried it!
Should I use a glass or metal baking pan?
If you have both the ideal choice for brownies is a metal baking pan, however, if glass or ceramic is your only choice that will work too. If using a glass pan you may want to reduce the oven temperature by about 25°F. Check out this article from The Kitchn if you want to know more about which type of pan is best to use in different situations.
things you might want for this recipe
Espresso Powder - This powder is a must for anyone who loves chocolate and loves to bake. It really brings out the richness in the chocolate and makes it pop.
Metal 8x8 Baking Pan - As I mentioned, a metal pan is ideal for baking brownies. This non-stick version from William's Sonoma is the one I currently use. It prevents most things from sticking and cleans up easily.
For the brownies
- 3 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the frosting
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ganache
- ½ cup dark chocolate chunks/chips
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 small candy canes, broken into small pieces
- Heat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray an 8x8 pan with baking spray.
- Melt the chocolate. Add the butter and chocolate chunks to a large, microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds on high power. Remove and stir. Heat for another 30 seconds. Stir again until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Make the batter. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate. Stir until combined. Add the cocoa, espresso powder and vanilla. Stir again until combined. Add the eggs one by one, stirring after each addition. Add the flour and salt, stir until incorporated. The batter will be thick.
- Bake the brownies. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool completely.
- Make the frosting. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to blend. Continue to beat on high for another 30 seconds or so. Spread the frosting on top of the brownies. If you want a neater presentation, you may want to remove the brownies from the pan before frosting.
- Make the ganache. In a small microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and the heavy cream. Microwave for 45 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk together until all of the chocolate is melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the brownies and top with the candy canes bits.
- Serve. You can either serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you are going to save them until the next day wait to add the candy cane bits until just before serving.
- Cooking time will vary based on your oven and the type of pan you use (glass, metal or ceramic).
- If you prefer more cakey brownies you'll want to bake them a little longer, just be careful not to let the edges burn.
- The prep time noted includes time for the brownies to cool.