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Peppermint Bark Brownies


IT'S HERE. Holiday season has finally arrived. We've gotten past the awkward few moments after Halloween and before Thanksgiving when everyone wonders when it's really appropriate to start playing Christmas music, or to start stringing Christmas lights, or to start putting peppermint into brownies. I'm a firm AFTER-THANKSGIVING holiday celebrator: Thanksgiving mode is a very important mode, after all. And it absolutely cannot be mixed in with Christmas mode. So right after Thanksgiving (literally, the day after Thanksgiving), we went and bought a Christmas tree, started playing Christmas music and stringing up Christmas lights.

And now I've gone and put peppermint bark on top of brownies. First off, the brownies on their own are just out of this world - so if you decide to nix the peppermint bark or, perhaps you're not feeling the holiday spirit... just make these brownies and be done with it. They're rich and unbelievably fudgey, and though it may seem weird to place them in the fridge shortly after they come out of the oven, don't be put off by this step in the recipe - it ensures an ultra-fudgey and chewy texture. It's truly a beautiful thing.

IS IT THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR OR WHAT?

FOR THE BROWNIES

12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

FOR THE PEPPERMINT BARK

8 oz semisweet chocolate

12 oz white chocolate

1/4 cup crushed candy canes (or candy cane pieces)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper. Make sure there's a 2" overhang, and lightly grease the parchment with oil or baking spray.

Using a double boiler or in the microwave, gently melt the butter with the semisweet chocolate until smooth. (If using the microwave, heat chocolate in 30-second increments to make sure it doesn't seize.) In a separate small bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract. Working quickly, whisk the sweetened condensed milk mixture into the chocolate mixture until well-combined. Add the sugar and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, espresso powder, cocoa powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, and fold gently to combine. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Allow the brownies to cool on the counter for 20 minutes more, then transfer to the fridge to cool completely.

Once the brownies have cooled, gently melt the semisweet chocolate using a double boiler or the microwave. Spread the chocolate in a thin layer over the brownies, then transfer to the fridge for the first layer to fully set (1 hour at the least). If your'e in a time crunch, place in the freezer.

Gently melt the white chocolate and spread evenly over the 1st chocolate layer. Sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Transfer to the fridge to cool completely - preferably overnight.


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