On the Second day of Christmas, The Country Kitchen made for me… Candy Cane Brownies
Ahh Brownies. Are there even the right words to describe how amazing these gooey, fudgy and ridiculously indulgent squares of chocolate are? No, I didn’t think so either!
I love baking brownies. Yes, cakes are what I do most of, but brownies are definitely next on my list of my all-time favourite things to bake. If I had enough tins (and a bigger oven), I would make a different flavour every night of the week, just so I could experiment with the mountain of ideas I have floating around in my head on what new varieties to come up with. Not to mention I could then hold a Brownie Party – oh, what a fabulous idea!
So this Christmas season, I wanted to create something that was a) gob-smackingly delicious, b) colourful and c) festive and fun, that everyone would enjoy.
After trawling through a bunch of old family photos of Christmas pasts and a box or two of Christmas decorations, I settled on something every kid never wants to grow too old for… stockings.
Now, of course I couldn’t exactly bake a brownie the size of a stocking, or hollow it out and fill it with a bunch of toys (don’t want to make anyone choke do I, let alone waste all that brownie goodness), so I settled for something the channels the essence of a stocking – Candy Canes.
These little sticks of peppermint freshness are so cute and colourful, that I couldn’t believe I had never thought of using them as part of my Twelve Bakes of Christmas before now! What an idiot I must seem! Although there is already a fabulous mint brownie on The County Kitchen brownie menu, I don’t use candy canes to make these as they can be very crunchy, and I don’t want people to break their teeth when they bite into them. That would not be fun for anyone.
But what about a decorative topping made of candy canes, surely that would work…
And boy oh boy did it!
I cannot express my joy at how pleased I was with these Candy Cane Brownies. The gorgeous Christmas colours bursting out at me from atop a deep, chocolaty base, I do believe I actually squealed with delight after making these.
First off I set about baking my classic chocolate brownies. I actually made two batches of these brownies, so the photos below show double the amount of ingredients you will need.
I started off by melting butter, sugar, salt, vegetable oil and cocoa in a bain-marie over a medium flame.
I find it is important to keep turning the mixture and giving it a good stir up. This helps remove any lumpy pieces of sugar and means all the butter melts at the same rate. You don’t want to end up with greasy butter…
Once this had turned into a thick, smooth mixture resembling some form of molten chocolate deliciousness, I stirred in some vanilla bean extract and left it to cool slightly while I prepared the rest of my ingredients.
Next I whisked up some eggs until they were super fluffy and bursting with air bubbles (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron but it describes it so well!), then added them to my chocolate mixture. A quick stir up with a metal spoon and I was ready for my next ingredient…
…Flour. I like to use local flour brought from a small supplier in Horsham, as I find this particular flour has such a fine texture there is no need to sieve it. I always do just in case of the odd lump, but don’t feel you have to.
Once this was all thoroughly mixed in and smooth, I poured the mixture into my lined baking tins, making sure it was all level and baked it in my trusty oven for 40-45 minutes. Would you just look at that smooth, deep chocolaty mix for a moment… is your mouth watering yet?
Now if that isn’t a thing of beauty, I don’t know what is. The brownie should still be slightly sponge-like when you take it out of the oven, so don’t worry if it feels a little soft.
Now to make the topping for these already scrumptious brownies, and turn them into an even scummier Christmas treat…
To start with I took a box of Candy Canes and smashed them up into small pieces with a wooden rolling pin. A little tip for you when crushing things in plastic bags is to double bag them. This is so when the bag inside splits as you bash it, it won’t matter as there will be another bag around it to catch all the little pieces that otherwise would have made a real mess of your kitchen. Handy, eh?
Once I was happy with my candy cane chunks, I melted some chocolate in a bain-marie and spread it all over the top of my brownie.
I wanted to make a super indulgent brownie and, also because it’s Christmas, I just had to get the good stuff. This meant going for a dark chocolate which was 70% cocoa solids, as I like the bitterness this creates against the sugar content of the brownie, not to mention the depth of colour it adds to the already rich chocolate colour. It can’t be a ‘brownie’ if it’s not ‘brown’ right (well, not strictly true as you can always have a Blondie, but I shan’t go into all that now)? And did I mention that my chocolate was Fairtrade? Yep, only the best in this kitchen! So there you go, that’s another reason to love these special Christmas brownies.
Over the now melted-chocolate-coated brownie I sprinkled the crushed pieces of candy cane, so they completely covered the top of the brownie. Gosh it was soo hard not to eat all those little pieces of candy cane sticking to my fingertips. I love peppermint anything, so peppermint and chocolate together are something I was really struggling to resist! Anyhow, I managed to do it without ending up with no brownies to go around… just. I really must work on my will power.
Because the melted chocolate was taking ages to set (okay maybe I was just being ridiculously impatient, but I really wanted these brownies!) I took my now exceptionally festive looking tray of chocolaty-ness out of its tin and transferred it to a wire rack to cool, which I then put in my fridge to chill before cutting.
I find that chilling the brownies right down, or even putting them in the freezer for a short while, really helps to slice into them with smooth, straight lines. Can you imagine the horror of making a super tasty brownie, only to have it crumble and fall apart the moment you try to slice it up? I have certainly had my fair share of these such experiences, and am not planning on having any more in the near future! Life is far too short to eat crumbly brownies with broken tops.
Ahh look at all that Christmas deliciousness! I absolutely adore the pop of red and white against the deep mahogany of the chocolate, so Santa Clause esque.
And there you have it, my adventure into Candy Cane Brownies made especially to bring a little extra Christmas cheer to your week.
So I guess by now you are thinking, “oh stop talking about these brownies and give us the recipe!”. All right, all right here you go! Now get baking so I don’t feel too bad about making a whole other batch of these and eating them all myself…
Candy Cane Brownies by The Country Kitchen
- 120g Unsalted Butter
- 60ml Vegetable Oil
- 70g Cocoa Powder
- 250g Caster Sugar
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Madagascan Vanilla Bean Extract
- x3 Free-Range Eggs
- 70g Self Raising Flour
- x6 Candy Canes
- 100g 70% Dark Chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F (140°C/285°F if using fan assisted) and move your baking shelf down so it is in the middle of the oven. Line an 8×12-inch baking tray with baking paper.
- Put the butter, sugar, oil, cocoa and salt in a glass bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie). Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water or you may burn the ingredients! Stir everything together until the butter has melted and the mixture is a smooth paste. Don’t panic if it goes a bit thick, it will soon thin out once the other ingredients are added.
- Add the vanilla bean extract and stir once, and then leave the bowl to cool, about 5 minutes.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs and then add to the chocolate mixture. Stir very well with a metal spoon until you have achieved a shiny and smooth batter; this may take a while but keep going!
- Slowly sieve in the flour and mix again with a metal spoon until totally incorporated. The mixture should now be a rich, dark brown colour and of a smooth consistency. Do not over mix or the air bubbles will burst and you will end up with deflated brownies…
- Pour into the prepared baking tray and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until spongy on top and the sides are just beginning to turn away from the edges. Leave in the baking tin to cool while you make the candy cane topping.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie then spread over the top of the brownie with a spatula, making sure to go into the corners well. Save a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate for later.
- Place the candy canes in a plastic bag, and then put that bag inside another one. Bash with a rolling pin until the candy canes are small chunks and well crushed.
- Sprinkle the candy cane pieces over the brownie, making sure you distribute it evenly so each slice has the same amount on top. Drizzle with the remaining chocolate to hold the crushed candy cane in place.
- Remove the brownie from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. When it is cold, transfer to the fridge so the melted chocolate hardens and sets.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the Candy Cane Brownie into squares and serve with hot chocolate or coffee, plus any extra candy canes!
So heat that oven, crush those candy canes, and go and ‘bake’ someone’s Christmas with an offering of these festive brownies that even Santa would stop his sleigh for.
Merry Christmas and Happy Baking,
The Country Kitchen x