Friday, December 20, 2013
Peppermint Brownie & Sugar Cookie Squares
We've made it to Day 5 of Cookie Week, and the 5 day before Christmas stretch! I'm going to keep this post very brief, mostly because I have presents to wrap, cookie dough to make and refrigerate, and an entire house to help get in perfectly clean, tip top shape...by tonight! I have family flying in this evening (they'll arrive very early tomorrow morning, like 7 or so), so tomorrow there will be zero time to get anything done before they arrive. We're in the final moments of rushing to get everything cleaned up and organized, and all the flour that I've gotten in every nook and cranny of my kitchen swept away. That task alone is of epic proportions in itself!
Another very epic topic that is definitely less stress inducing would be these Peppermint Brownie and Sugar Cookie Squares. I saw this bar cookie in this month's edition of Family Circle, and I immediately knew that I HAD to make it for myself. Sugar cookie and brownie all in one bite? What more could you ask for?
Peppermint, I guess. That's certainly a doable request.
These peppermint bars mix the best of both worlds- chocolate brownie and sweet sugar cookie. I personally have a huge soft spot for both, so getting to enjoy them together at the same time is such a treat. I personally love peppermint flavored treats (I know peppermint is one of those flavors that you either like, or straight up don't like), so I decided to add some peppermint extract to the brownie batter. While I loved the idea of the bar cookie as it was shown in the magazine originally, there was just something that wasn't convincing me about the recipe they gave for the sugar cookie. I had my doubts, and thus decided to find a sugar cookie bar recipe that convinced me a bit more. The one I ended up using, from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, was just perfect. I was so happy I made the switch. My sugar cookie layer may have been a bit thicker than the brownie layer by comparison, but it didn't really bother me. The extra layer of chocolate on top of the brownie, along with the crushed candy canes, totally made up for the slight layer imbalance. I had no complaints! If you want a more evenly layered bar cookie, I think you could get away with making 1 1/2 batches of the brownie layer. I haven't tried this myself, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. The baking time may change slightly, but that would be the only issue that I can foresee, anyway.
This is a great recipe to make for the holidays. It's festive and fun, and so simple to make. I think kids would love helping to mix these up; since there's so few ingredients, and the bars can pretty much be mixed with only the help of an electric mixer at the most, it's a recipe that's simple enough for older kids to tackle themselves. Little ones would probably have fun spreading the cookie and brownie layers, and of course, sprinkling on the crushed candy canes. Since this recipe makes a 9x13-inch pan of bar cookies, you can cut out 24 nicely sized squares to serve, or cut smaller squares if you just want to offer these as small treats. Either way, this recipe will feed a crowd. Enjoy!
Peppermint Brownie & Sugar Cookie Squares
inspired by Family Circle December 2013
sugar cookie recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
For the Sugar Cookie Layer
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Brownie Layer
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips
7 oz chocolate chips, for melting
crushed candy canes, for decorating (I used 4)
Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray, and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
In a bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and mix for another 2 minutes. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing only until just combined. Add the sugar cookie mixture to the prepared pan, and spread it into an even layer. Use an offset spatula to help you. Refrigerate the cookie dough for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., and grease a 9x13 inch pan with baking spray, and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Beat in the melted butter, egg, milk, and a few drops of peppermint extract to taste. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the brownie mixture over the chilled sugar cookie layer, and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow the pan to cool completely.
When cool, melt the 7 oz chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler. Spread the melted chocolate over the brownie layer, and top with crushed candy cane pieces. Let the chocolate layer set in the fridge. Once firm, remove the bar cookie from the pan using the paper overhang. Remove the parchment paper, and with a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares. Enjoy!
Makes 1 9x13 inch pan, or 24 squares