I had this great idea to make small brownies in mini muffin cups, topped with crushed candy cane. They would come out of the oven slightly puffed with the candy pieces baked into the tops, eliminating the need to ice the brownie bites and stick on the crushed peppermint.
But it didn’t work at all.
Oh, they puffed all right!
Puffed right out of the papers and morphed into strange UFOs topped with crunchy red mint.
I’d made a full batch of batter and didn’t want to just toss everything in the trash. They still tasted great, so how could I save these?
I thought about it throughout the weekend:
- Break up the pieces and bind them with some fluffy buttercream icing and sandwich the whole thing into a layer cake?
- Chop it and freeze until we need to top ice cream?
- Make a chocolate-vanilla ice cream terrine incorporating layers of brownie bites?
- Moisten the pieces with milk or cream cheese and roll the ‘dough’ like truffles, then coat with icing sugar or cocoa?
- Mix the chunks into a pudding?
I discarded all these options; each had a flaw I wasn’t happy with or didn’t want to deal with. Enough was enough!
(Ok. First: We hadn’t finished the layered spice cake already in the house, and a cake won’t keep like holiday cookies would; How much ice cream would we need to eat to use up all that brownie topping?!; wouldn’t the brownie pieces be rock hard from the freezer? And again, how much brownie crumble could I really use in a terrine without still having a ton of leftovers, bringing me right back here?; brownie truffles were a good option, but I didn’t want all that extra icing sugar coating such already-rich centres, and I didn’t feel like rolling a zillion tiny balls; pudding: again, I had too much brownie for this, I wasn’t making pudding for an army!)
But I still couldn’t bring myself to throw out the bowlful of crumbled brownies.
I’d already taken off all the papers and broken up the larger pieces; the whole mess was in a covered mixing bowl. So I whipped some cream and stirred that with the brownie crumble. I let it sit a bit to get moist, then rolled the new mix into a rough square shape on some parchment paper and drizzled the entire slab with fine lines of royal icing, hoping they’d stick as the icing dried.
After letting it sit an hour to dry out a bit (from all that whipped cream) I cut small squares and packed it up between layers of parchment paper in a cookie tin.
These brownie bites are very moist; minty with some crunch where you get a bite of candy cane, and rich – the recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, plus I added nearly a cup of whipped cream.
If you’re interested in creating them – without the fiasco steps – see my how-to below. Or follow the steps up to rolling the mixed whipped cream and brownie pieces flat, and proceed with truffles: roll 1-inch balls and coat with icing sugar or cocoa. It will stick nicely, not dissolve into the damp balls as I’d worried it might.
Adapted Hershey’s brownie recipe:
This recipe and method are forgiving: use a medium mixing bowl with a spoon, sturdy whisk or electric beaters; or a food processor, or electric mixer.
- 3/4 cup Cocoa
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2/3 cup Vegetable oil
- 2 Eggs
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 1/3 cups Flour
- (1/3 cup) crushed Candy Cane pieces.
Combine cocoa, baking soda, water and oil; add the eggs and sugar. Mix in the flour to make a thick batter.
Line or butter a 9 x 13″ pan, pour in the batter and spread it to fill the baking pan evenly. Top with crushed candy cane pieces.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Allow the brownies to cool in their pan, then break into small pieces, like gravel. Whip 1/3 cup of 35% cream and stir the cream and crumble together.
Tip the now-damp chocolate pieces onto a large sheet of parchment (or wax) paper, press the mixture into a flat disk and then lightly roll with a rolling pin until approx. 1 square foot. (The brownies should be about 1/4 inch thick.) Slice into small pieces, approximately 1-inch squares.
Cut and store in a tin or other covered container. If they feel too soft, leave the brownies on the counter for 1 hour to dry a little, but they will remain moist.