Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It Just Wouldn't Be Christmas...

...Without some sweet treats from Mehgan!! You see, my reputation precedes me: both Christmas parties we'll be attending this year have requested that I make and bring along some sweets for desserts. So, I thought for a while about what kinds of stuff I want to make, and have come down to a nice collection of classics. I'll be posting them as I make them, so be ready!!

First up, I've been dying to play around with chocolate, so I decided to make some brownies. Now, in my experience, there are two kinds of brownies in this world: the doughy, cakey kind and the chewy, flaky kind. It was a hard decision, but I went with the doughy, cakey kind and used Nigella Lawson's brownie recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess (aka Old Reliable).
Let me take a second to pause here, and give you a little insight into myself a bit. I am a peppermint freak. So, this time of year, I go insane with it (because any other time of year and it would just be...weird). I buy peppermint lotion, body spray, candy canes, peppermint tea, etc etc. My sister even nicknamed me Peppermint Patty (and my niece we've nicknamed Junior Mint). When I saw that Hershey's has a new Candy Cane Kiss, I knew I had to buy a bag... or two... or three.
I love them. They have little bits of crushed up candy canes in them, and they're delicious white chocolate. So delicious. They quickly became an inspiration for the brownies I made last night as a little "warm-up" to my cookie-making extravaganza. Here's my recipe for White Chocolate and Candy Cane Brownies:
-1 2/3 cups soft unsalted butter
-13 oz bittersweet chocolate
-6 large eggs
-1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tbsp peppermint extract
-1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp salt
-20 to 25 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses (without wrappers)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Line or grease 13" x 9" x 2 1/2" pan (sides also). Melt butter and chocolate together (I used the bowl over a boiling pot of water method) until smooth and creamy. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla, peppermint extract and sugar. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Once the chocolate has cooled a bit, beat it into the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. In a microwavable bowl, melt the Kisses (I heated them in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stirred them, and heated them for another 30 seconds). Drizzle the melted Kisses on top of the brownie batter in lines. Take a toothpick and carefully drag it up and down the lines to create a cool web effect. Place the brownies on the center rack of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
These brownies went over really well at work, everybody (including the cleaning guy) absolutely loved them. At first, when people bit into them, they didn't know what that new flavor was, but when I told them it was peppermint, they were able to nail down what it was they were eating. I'm so glad they liked them, and they were so much fun to make. I had forgotten how much I love working with chocolate. It's just such a wonderful substance, and makes my house smell divine.

And while I'm getting exceedingly sick of taking pictures without any sunlight, it is fun taking pictures in front of our Christmas tree! Merry Christmas, everyone!