Peppermint Mocha BROWNIES!!! Your favorite holiday latte in dessert form. As in brownies loaded with chocolate chips, covered in frosting, with a hint of coffee and peppermint flavor shining through each bite. All decked out with crushed bits of striped candy canes sprinkled over the top. Cause it’s the holidays and nothing screams FESTIVE quite like something sweet and totally, unapologetically over the top.
And this is just that thing.
The thing I’m going to eat and enjoy every last bite of without a second thought in the world for whether or not it’s good for me. This may not be great for my body but it sure as hell feels good for my soul.
Remember when I told you that I'm a big proponent of everything in moderation? And that I eat mostly healthy(ish)? This is the -ish. The wishy washy, gimme-all-the-carbs, DGAF zone.
Around the holidays I LOVE eating baked goods. Hand over fist, I can’t get enough of them. And there is something totally relaxing about spending a lot of time in the kitchen over the holidays. Mixing, whisking, folding, kneading dough, decorating all manner of things in sprinkles and chocolate chips. Its super gratifying to take a bunch of ingredients and see them transform into something wholly different than the humble heaps of powder and mush they started as.
But. I’m about to get real with you. It's confession time.
I am not exactly great at baking. If I had to work in a restaurant kitchen tomorrow, I would fare much better pretending to be a savory chef than a pastry chef. I mean…eventually, my clunky knife skills and fear of live crustaceans would ensure I was found out anyway but I think I could draw out the ruse MUCH longer if I wasn’t rolling out dough or sifting cake flour.
Riffing and improvising in the kitchen when it comes to the precise measured ingredient world that is BAKING is not exactly my thing. I can sorta guess when it comes to things like oatmeal cookies // zucchini muffins // banana bread and get yummy results. But when it comes to say perfecting a croissant dough, executing a proper French macaron, or making a four-tiered fondant cake - Imma leave that to the experts.
I bow down to the best and busiest bakers of the world. They are mighty, they are masterful, and they are not ME. And that is okay. I am happy to stay in my lane. I like my “lane”.
Maybe someday I will get it together and that pastry part of my brain will click into place, but until then I am happy to be a better eater of baked goods than I am a baker of them.
However, I AM pretty excellent at following instructions, aka being told how to bake. As in, guided by the wisdom that comes from the short list of instructions on the back of a brownie mix box. And I can totally mix cake-box-wisdom with my dessert-brain that craves all sorts of things all at one time.
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That, dear readers, is my sweet spot. THAT is where I shine. The place where I just let my sweet tooth be my guide and throw caloric-caution to the wind.
Enter unabashed use of box mix and all manner of mix-ins that take it over the top. Namely chocolate chips, instant coffee, peppermint extract, and crushed CANDY CANES. Yes. You read that right. This recipe involves taking chocolate cake-like squares, filling them with MORE chocolate, injecting them with caffeine, and then topping them with candy.
Zero to one hundred mph. That’s my holiday speed this year.
You don't have to put yourself out to make something entirely from scratch to bring to the next office party or friends holiday potluck. The point is to have fun. And if you're slaving away in the kitchen making every single solitary cookie, bar, hand pie, casserole, and roast from scratch-scratch you are liable to lose any and all semblance of that fun that you may have been having before you were four hours into what promised to be a easy DIY Pinterest project.
So if you are wanting permission to take the easy road on this one, I am here to say DO IT. Take that path. I think it's 100% okay to say “damn the torpedoes” and give yourself a break. Somebody somewhere put a lot of thought and effort into making that box mix delicious. And I certainly am not above using it.
It’s actually one of the many ongoing things I plan to take on in 2017, that whole giving myself a break thing. The stepping out of the need to always do the “healthiest” thing possible at all moments. To just enjoy the simple moments, like grabbing a box of brownie mix off the shelf and having a little fun in the kitchen sprucing it up with other ingredients. Not overthinking it or talking myself out of it, just plain and simple doing more of what feels good. More of doing what I want, when I want (well, at least when I'm off the clock!).
That and taking more moments to be thankful. It was Free Your Fork’s 1-year blogiversary this month and that little milestone was made even sweeter by all of you who have stuck with me throughout this journey. So I’m sending bushels of love and gratitude your way this holiday season!! Can't wait to ring in 2017 with you all so soon!
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Peppermint Mocha Brownies
- 1 box brownie mix 18-oz
- 2 teaspoon instant coffee
- ⅔ c oil*
- ½ c warm water**
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- ½ c semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 container of chocolate frosting 12.5 oz
- 3 candy canes crushed in a Ziploc bag
- BAKE BROWNIES: Prep an 8 x 8 baking pan, line it with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brownie mix, instant coffee, warm water, and oil. Then add in the egg and peppermint extract, and mix until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula, and pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes (or according to your box mix instructions).***
- FROST AND DECORATE: Allow brownies to cool fully. Then spread the chocolate frosting evenly over the top and sprinkle the crushed candy canes (or crushed peppermint candies) over the top. Cut into 9 squares.