December 11, 2013

12 Days of Cookies
( + Peppermint Brownies )

I don't usually post about giveaways or contests or events, but today we're going to change things up a bit.  

And we're going to talk about cookies.  Because it's December, and that's a given.

This year I participated in the Great Blogger Cookie Swap, which is an event that matches bloggers from around the country to gift each other with home-baked cookies, all for the paltry price of a tiny donation to Cookies for Kids' Cancer.  You get 36 cookies, meet 6 new bloggers you may otherwise have never known, and and get to feel like you're making a difference in someone's life.  Oh, and sometimes the corporate sponsors shower unexpected gifts upon you.  I came home from work one day to find that OXO had sent me a brand-new set of spatulas in graduated sizes.  Woot!  This year, over 600 bloggers participated and over $13,000 was raised for Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

For my gifts, I made these Peppermint Brownies, which are far more impressive than their short ingredient list suggests.  They're dense, a little chewy, and not so overly fudgy that it wouldn't be possible to send them across the country to someone you love (although if fudgy is your thing, like it is mine, I'm sure a little underbaking would solve that problem in a jiffy).  Besides peppermint extract, they also call for peppermint leaves (found in your friendly grocer's tea aisle), which are ground up with the sugar to form a lovely scented sweetener.  It's not the most traditional method, but believe me: the results speak for themselves.  

And then there's the marbled topping: high impact, super low effort.  

Looking for more cookie recipes?  I received some amazing packages: Championship Cookies from Nika at, Peppermint Chunk Oreos with two (2!) fillings from Lindsey at, and Double Chocolate Cookies with Peppermint Bark (my favorite Christmas candy!) from Chainey, who was clever enough to use marshmallows as a packing filler.  Chainey also has a blog, but the bit of paper that had the web address written on it was eaten by an overenthusiastic beagle who shall go nameless.  If you send me the info, Chainey, I'll add a link to your site, I promise.  :)

The full list of cookies made for the swap should be available on Monday on Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen.  My heartfelt thanks to the talented bloggers who sent me such delicious cookies, and to everyone who helped raise funds for such a great cause.  Hope to see you again next year!

Peppermint Brownies
barely adapted from Greg Case
in Fine Cooking

Unsalted Butter  [ 1 cup ]
Unsweetened Chocolate  [ 8 ounces ]
Peppermint Tea Leaves  [ 2 teaspoons - about 2 tea bags' worth ]
Sugar  [ 2 cups ]
Eggs  [ 4 large ]
Peppermint Extract  [ 2 teaspoons ]
Kosher Salt  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Flour  [ 1 cup ]

Semisweet Chocolate  [ 2 ounces ]
Unsweetened Chocolate  [ 2 ounces ]
Light Corn Syrup  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1/4 cup ]
White Chocolate  [ 2 ounces ]

Make Brownies:
1.   Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.  Butter foil, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3.   In a heatproof bowl set over gently simmering water, stirring frequently, melt 1 cup of the Butter and
         ounces of the Unsweetened Chocolate.
4.   When completely melted and combined, turn off burner but leave Chocolate Mixture sitting over the
         warm water.
5.   In a food processor, pulse Peppermint Tea and Sugar until finely ground and well mixed.
6.   In a large bowl, whisk together Eggs, Peppermint Extract, Salt, and Peppermint Sugar.
7.   Slowly whisk in melted Chocolate Mixture.
8.   With a rubber spatula, fold in Flour until fully incorporated.
9.   Spread Batter in prepared pan.
10.   Bake until toothpick inserted in center of pan comes out almost clean  [ about 35 minutes ].
11.   Remove from oven and place on wire rack until completely cool.

Glaze Brownies:
12.   If desired, remove brownies from pan before glazing.
13.   In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, mix Semisweet Chocolate, Unsweetened Chocolate, 
           Corn Syrup and Butter.
14.   Stir frequently until Mixture is fully melted and combined.  Remove from heat and set aside.
15.   Place White Chocolate in a new heatproof bowl and set over simmering water.  Stir frequently until
            fully melted.
16.   Using a spatula, spread Chocolate Glaze evenly over top of slab of brownies.
17.   To create marbled effect, drizzle or pipe White Chocolate over Chocolate Glaze in thin horizontal lines.
18.   Using a toothpick or the back of a butter knife, drag vertical lines through glaze at 1 to 1 1/2-inch
19.   Make new set of vertical lines with knife [ between each existing line ], this time moving in the
            opposite direction.
20.   Refrigerate until glaze is set.
21.   To cut Brownies cleanly, run knife under hot water, quickly dry off with a kitchen towel, and then cut.
            This will help to keep the Ganache from snagging or cracking as it's cut.
22.   Serve at room temperature.

Makes 1 9x13-inch pan [ about 24-32 brownies ].

More brownies for your eating pleasure:
Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars