Tag Archives: Christmas baking

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

It’s a little late for a Christmas recipe, but frankly I can do whatever I want on this website. And what I want is a pan of Peppermint Mocha Brownies.

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Made with my tried and true Cocoa Brownie base, these holiday treats come together super easily. Their already-deep chocolate flavor is punched up with semisweet chocolate chips, then accented with just enough peppermint extract and granulated espresso to evoke everyone’s holiday coffee shop fave.

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

But flavor’s only half of the equation here—Peppermint Mocha Brownies have to look the part, too! These are drizzled with a melted mix of chocolate chips and butter, and sprinkled with as much crushed candy cane as your heart desires. (My heart desires a lot.)

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Peppermint Mocha Brownies are rich and satisfying; a little square goes a long way. I, however, have no self control and cut these on the larger side. I regret nothing.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Whatever and wherever you’re celebrating, I hope you’re safe, warm, and with people you love.

Peppermint Mocha Brownies
Peppermint Mocha Brownies
adapted from Alice Medrich's Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated espresso or coffee
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For Garnish:
3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
crushed candy canes or starlight peppermints

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter, granulated and brown sugars, and cocoa powder together, stirring frequently, until a thick, grainy mixture forms. Remove from heat and let mixture cool 5-7 minutes.

Add vanilla, peppermint extract, and eggs to the pot, and stir/whisk to combine. Add flour, granulated espresso, and salt, and stir/whisk to combine. Fold in semisweet chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread to the edges. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Top with pecans, if desired.

Bake brownies 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter). Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Garnish the brownies. Combine chocolate chips and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle over brownies. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Refrigerate brownies for 15-20 minutes, until chocolate sets.

Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before using parchment overhang to lift brownies onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice brownies into 16 or 25 pieces. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

Hi there! I am sorry I left you hanging for a few weeks there—COVID finally got me—but I am very happy to be back with a new recipe in time for the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange. This event, which I am participating in for the fifth year, is a food blogger-lead fundraiser and awareness campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit with the express mission to raise funds for innovative pediatric cancer treatments and research through bake sales and cookie swaps. Supporters (“Good Cookies”) can do this throughout the year, but I am delighted to lend support as part of my holiday giving especially right now when OXO is matching donations up to $100,000! If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here. For White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges, keep scrolling!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

I would like to give a high five to whichever person decided white chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistachios is a Christmas combination. I don’t believe it was a part of any holiday parties or cookie exchanges I took part in while growing up, but I am all for it now. Aside from just being festive—love that red, green and white—it’s delicious, and a welcome departure from the chocolate, peppermint, and spice-heavy fare that seems to be available 24/7 in December. Not that I’m complaining.

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

Today’s White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges are the perfect vehicle for showcasing this new holiday classic combination. They’re simple to make, require just a few ingredients, and are incredibly cute—things cut in wedges automatically have Christmas tree vibes, you know?

These buttery shortbread treats come together just as simply as the classic cookies. The dough is mixed in one bowl in just a few minutes. It’s got all the usual shortbread suspects (granulated sugar, softened butter, all-purpose flour), plus confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and salt for smooth texture, flavor and balance. Oh, and white chocolate chips, chopped dried cranberries and pistachios for pizzazz!

Once mixed, the dough is spread into a cake pan lined with an extra-large piece of parchment. It’s docked (vented) with a fork all over before baking for about 40 minutes, until just turning golden at the edges. Fifteen minutes later, that extra-large parchment is used to lift the whole disk of shortbread onto a cutting board and slice it into wedges while it’s still warm. I love those clean edges.

These shortbread wedges are thick and substantial, with a slight softness to their crunch, and plenty of color and flavor from the mix-ins. My favorite bites are the ones with white chocolate—it caramelizes in the oven and is outrageously good. I like to dot a few extra white chocolate chips on top after baking for diversity of flavor (and obvious cuteness). And the chewy cranberries and crunchy pistachios? So good!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges are perfect for any upcoming party or cookie giving (eating?) occasion. They’re as satisfying to make as they are to eat, and the dough is a perfect blank slate for any festive mix-in your holiday heart desires. What would you put in shortbread wedges? Let me know in the comments!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​
White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges
makes 12-16 wedges

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup pistachio meats, finely chopped
1/3 cup white chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F. Cut a large (12-14 inch) circle of parchment paper. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment circle, leaving the overhang for ease of removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Place softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add granulated and confectioners sugars and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Beat in half of flour and salt, followed by remaining flour. Add chopped dried cranberries, pistachio meats, and white chocolate chips.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into an even layer. Use the tines of a fork to dock the entire surface of the dough. If you hit a big piece of pistachio (or whatever), simply pull it off the fork and press it back into place.

Bake shortbread 38-40 minutes, until golden at the edges and set on top. Dot with additional white chocolate chips, if desired.

Let shortbread cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then use the overhang to remove the still-warm shortbread to a cutting board. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to cut into 12 large or 16 smaller wedges. Gently transfer wedges back to the rack and let cool completely. Serve.

Leftover shortbread will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.