And now January has set in. Tinsel and lights have been packed away. Christmas tree carcasses litter the sidewalks- emaciated reminders of festivities past. On the whole January would appear to be a pretty “grey”- The Month of M’eh. Each mouthful of chocolate or candy is now succeeded by a guilty pang of remorse. “December was pretty indulgent, I really shouldn’t be eating this”…said no one in my kitchen. Ever!
“Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”
There’s usually a surplus of sweet treats of some variety in my house after the festive season. This year is was candy canes. Having fulfilled their duty of adorning the christmas trees for the best past of a month (and surviving the voracious eyes of my children!) it’s now time to put them to an alternative, and somewhat tastier, use.
For something so small and simple candy cane have an assortment of end uses in the kitchen. Aside from having a good ol’ fashioned chomp on them, there are recipes available for flavoured vodkas, cupcakes, and hot chocolate. I opted for using them in one of my favourite flavour combinations- mint and chocolate. My Candy cane Brownies are rich, indulgent treats laced with peppermint and studded with chewy, mini nuggets of stripped cane and chocolate chumks. Just for good measure there’s an extra sprinkling of smashed candy canes topping each brownies with extra festive whimsy.
Having arrived in our new home of Canada just ahead of the festive blitz I had little time for baking and experimenting with the new array of ingredients that have since become available to me. New brands, varieties and flavours lined shelfs, all there for the taking in my greedy mitts. The cocoa powder I used here, Fry’s (which is a Dutch processed cocoa), resulted in a much darker and richer chocolate flavour compared to those I’ve used in the UK. I’d highly recommend trying to get your hands on some if you can! So this recipe provided the perfect excuse for not only using up the excess candy canes but also as a trial for using unfamiliar ingredients. I hope you like them. And yes I know it’s strictly speaking a christmas recipe and the festive season is done and dusted, but just them of them as a legitimate excuse for resurrecting it for a brief few minutes. Enjoy!
Candy cane Brownies
Unsalted butter 185g, cubed
185g Bakers unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey peppermint extract
275g caster (superfine) sugar
85g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
50g Fry’s cocoa powder
50g Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
50g peppermint candy cane, broken into smalls pieces
75g peppermint candy canes, smashed into irregular pieces
- Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment.
- Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
- Stir the peppermint extract into the cooled chocolate mixture, and the fold into the egg mixture.
- Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together.
- Mix in the chocolate chunks and candy cane pieces. Fold again until well combined.
- Pour your mixture into the lined tray and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To test- insert a skewer into the mixture about 1 inch from the edge of the tin and it should come out clean.
- To decorate-sprinkle the top of the brownies with the smashed candy cane pieces and gently push into the surface so the stick.
- Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares, and serving.