Okay, so I didn’t get through quite so many Christmas cookies as I would have liked. I thought about squeezing one more round in, but opted instead to spend my evening making pain au chocolat and baguettes. So not quite so many cookies, but some really lovely breakfast for my friends and if all goes well, a step-by-step croissant tutorial for you guys soon. ‘Tis the season, or whatever. I do have one last holiday recipe for you, because it just didn’t feel right to have Christmas with no mint or white chocolate.
I actually wanted to make peppermint bark initially, but candy canes do not seem to exist in Byron Bay, so that idea was quickly abandoned. This is a bit of a similar concept, but with an added brownie layer. So you’ve got a chocolatey, fudgy brownie, topped with minty white chocolate ganache, topped with rich dark chocolate ganache. These are very intense and very, very tasty.
140 grams (5 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1. Put a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 160 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit). Line an 8×8 baking pan with baking parchment or foil, leaving a couple inches overhang on two opposite sides (to make lifting them out of the tray easier). I always butter the foil/parchment too, just in case.
2. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt together in a large heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Double-boil until the butter is fully melted and mixture is smooth, stirring from time to time. (If you want to just melt the butter in the microwave, you can do that and mix it all together after. They will still be tasty.)
3. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and let cool for a couple minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating thoroughly after each. When the second egg is fully incorporated and the batter looks nice and shiny, add the flour and stir until just combined. Alice Medrich says you should then stir exactly 40 times with a wooden spoon. I say just make sure all the flour is mixed in and you’ll be fine.
4. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan. It will be very thick and a little difficult to work with. Just spread it out as evenly as you can and don’t stress about it. Bake until a toothpick comes out almost clean, about 20-25 minutes. I find these take a minimum of 25 minutes, sometimes up to 35, but be careful not to overbake them!
5. Let cool completely, about an hour and a half.
White Chocolate & Peppermint Ganache:
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
250 grams quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped or in disks (I sprung for Lindt, which was delicious)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
a couple drops green food coloring OR 2 tablespoons creme de menthe
1. Heat chocolate and cream in a double-boiler (or in a large, heat-proof bowl over a small saucepan of water), stirring constantly. When chocolate is almost all melted (just a few chunks remaining), remove from heat and whisk until smooth. It may look a bit gummy at first, but whisking should smooth it out. If not, add a little extra cream.
2. Stir in the peppermint extract and the creme de menthe or food coloring. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour.
3. After about an hour, take the ganache out and spread evenly over the top of the brownies. Chill frosted brownies until the white chocolate layer is firm but still a little sticky, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, get the dark chocolate ganache ready.
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
200 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or in disks (I used 72% cocoa)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Heat chocolate and cream in a double-boiler (or in a large, heat-proof bowl over a small saucepan of water), stirring constantly. When chocolate is almost all melted (just a few chunks remaining), remove from heat and whisk until smooth.
2. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until your white chocolate layer is ready.
3. Spread the dark chocolate ganache evenly over the white chocolate layer. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.
4. Lift out of tray and slice into very small pieces (these are very rich – I got 40 brownies out of this recipe). This will be easiest and cleanest with a hot knife – run a very sharp knife under very hot water, wipe dry, and use. You’ll probably want to reheat the knife a couple times as you go, too. I like to serve these straight from the fridge, and like most brownies, they’re better the next day.