Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9- by 13-in. baking pan. In a medium saucepan, stir butter and bittersweet chocolate over very low heat with a heatproof rubber spatula until just melted (do not let simmer or boil). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Slowly pour chocolate-butter mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Into a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, then whisk together. With a clean rubber spatula, gently fold flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined.
Spread batter evenly in the baking pan. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until brownies are firm, beginning to pull away from sides of pan, and a toothpick inserted in center emerges with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°. Line a level, rimmed 11 1/2- by 16-in. baking sheet with parchment. With a pencil, draw a grid of 1 3/4-in. squares on parchment (5 rows of 8), leaving about a 1-in. border, and turn parchment over. Place a mint in the center of each square. Bake 15 to 25 minutes, or until completely melted into 1 large sheet, but remove before candy begins to turn yellow. Immediately score peppermint squares with a pizza cutter, using pencil lines as your guide. If scored lines don't hold, rescore quickly. Let candy cool completely. Gently break into squares along score lines. Arrange, bake, and score remaining 40 candies the same way (you'll have extra squares; pick the prettiest).
In the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over simmering water, combine chopped semisweet chocolate and whipping cream. Cook, stirring often, until melted and blended. Remove from heat and let ganache cool until just warm.
Pour ganache over cooled brownies in pan and allow to set until firm, about 2 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Place peppermint squares bottom side up on ganache, leaving enough room between squares to cut brownies. Cut brownies into squares along edges of peppermint tops, wiping knife clean between cuts. Remove brownies from pan, discard (or eat) scraps, and return brownies to pan. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure wrap does not touch peppermint, and refrigerate 3 hours (to soften candy a bit). Serve slightly chilled.
More toppings to try. Why stop at peppermint? Try these other embellishments for our rich, soft brownies. Be generous with amounts, and chill brownies so that the topping sets.
Coconut and Macadamia: Sprinkle shredded toasted coconut and chopped toasted macadamia nuts over the just-warm ganache layer.
Crushed Toffee: Sprinkle crushed toffee bits over the just-warm ganache layer.
Double Peanut: Warm up natural-style peanut butter (creamy or chunky) and spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until peanut butter is firm; top with ganache and chopped peanuts.
Raspberry: Spread raspberry jam over cooled brownies and top with ganache.
Rocky Road: Preheat broiler. Spread half of the just-warm ganache over cooled brownies, then top with mini marshmallows and chopped walnuts. Broil brownies for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows are toasted and beginning to melt together. Remove from oven and drizzle with remaining ganache.
White Chocolate Swirl: Spoon dollops of melted white chocolate over the just-warm ganache layer and make marbled swirls using a toothpick or a knife.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per brownie. Notes: You can make the brownies with ganache 3 days ahead, cover with plastic wrap (making sure it does not touch ganache), and chill. The tops can be made up to a week ahead and stored airtight at room temperature. Look for hard, round peppermint swirl candies, also called starlight mints, with bright red color. Keep an eye on the candies as they melt; some brands don't spread as quickly or as thinly as others. You may want to make a test batch using 12 mints arranged in 3 rows of 4 to determine whether you'll need to adjust your oven's temperature or space the candies closer together.
You can make the brownies with ganache 3 days ahead, cover with plastic wrap (making sure it does not touch ganache), and chill. The tops can be made up to a week ahead and stored airtight at room temperature. Look for hard, round peppermint swirl candies, also called starlight mints, with bright red color; we liked Golden Gate Goodies brand (99 cents for a 6-oz. bag; available at Longs Drugs; visit longs.com for store locations). Keep an eye on the candies as they melt; some brands don't spread as quickly or as thinly as others. You may want to make a test batch using 12 mints arranged in 3 rows of 4 to determine whether you'll need to adjust your oven's temperature or space the candies closer together.
great recipe, good brownies and nice decoration on top. However, I found that it was easier to cut brownies first and then add ganache and peppermint candies. Also, I found that the peppermint if left our on the brownies will totally melt back into the ganache and disappear.
I also tried using a very small snowflake cookie cutter to cut out the peppermint candies and placed them on top of brownies. It was very pretty and easier to cover then trying to make squares.
These make beautiful brownies that look really festive for the holidays. One thing I didn't like about the candy layer was that it was too thick. It made eating the brownies kind of awkward. I did a little experiment that seemed to work nicely. I melted the candies on a piece of parchment paper. After I took them out of the oven, while still piping hot, I put another piece of parchment on top of the melted candies and rolled them with a rolling pin. This made the layer thinner and also pushed any candies together that were still not touching after they were fully melted....then, I gently pulled the top layer of parchment off the candies which took about 1/2 the candy thickness with it. It left a very thin layer of candy on the pan. I then scored the candy while still hot. I tried this on a small amount of candies (about 12). I think it would be too difficult to do successfully on a full baking sheet of candy. Worked like a charm and the candies retained their pretty design.
I tried melting the candies. Didn't turn out well. So when I make them with the peppermint I put the candies in my food processor. Remember you can also use other candy to top or omit the candies and just have the ganache layer!
I made these for a small group at Christmas thinking we could eat them for dessert all week. They are beautiful and everyone loved them... until they were about two days old... the candy got very soggy and turns almost to a liquid. Literally you could touch it and it looked like had marshmellow stuck to my finger. This is a great recipe, but I wouldn't make more than your going to use.
I really, really wanted these to work as the other reviewers said but found them to be a bit too difficult for my liking (& I am not against a challenge!). These make very intensely chocolate brownies as well. Perhaps crushing candy canes like one reviewer mentioned would have been a better choice for me as that mint top was a bit of a whip!
I made this recipe according to the directions and it turned out great! I heated the peppermints for maybe double the time it says to try to get them to connect as best as possible. My one complaint would be that the peppermint layer was a tad on the thick side which made for a bit of an odd eating sensation (hard layer, super soft layer, and then brownie). The 2nd time I chopped up the peppermints and spread them on the top instead; was much easier and still very pretty!
Wow! What an amazingly delicious, gorgeous treat! They were of course a bit time consuming, but they were simple. I did make a trial batch of mints, and I found with the Brachs starlights, they need to be placed closer together in order to melt into a sheet. They scored and cut easily, and the delicate little crunch on top of the brownie did not detract from your typical brownie experience. I did not make a huge batch of mints to choose the prettiest (why waste the time and candy?).I made one tray, it was plenty, and even the less-than-perfect mints still made a gorgeous brownie. These taste really gourmet and look like you've had intensive pastry schooling--perfect to whip together before the mother-in-law comes for a visit.
Truly one of the best things I've ever made! I followed the recipe exactly, except that I crushed candy canes and sprinkled them over the top instead of melting the peppermint candies. I thought the melted peppermint candies would make too hard a top. The crushed candy canes added just the right amount of peppermint taste and crunch. They taste best right out of the refrigerator, although my husband says the ones I froze taste the best. Either way, these are keepers.
LOVE this recipe, its a bit hard the first time but worth perfecting. I took it to a cookie exchange last year and everyone raved about them. This year I am bringing them for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. ***I cheat and use boxed brownies 2 boxes in a big glass dish so they are super think.
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