Halloween peppermint brownies

Time flies and it's already Halloween in two short days!  
I may not be very big on Halloween but it's good to get into the spirit a little bit with some pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, and a few fun treats.  I find that as the kids get older, the fervor behind Halloween is quieting down so maybe I should try to enjoy it as much as possible while my son is still dressing up and excited to "boo" his friends and neighbors.  
The kids at school are having a Halloween bake sale today and I made these simple peppermint brownies for the sale.  I considered making a batch of owl cupcakes but when I saw this simple idea for making Halloween "faces" using peppermint patties on brownies from Martha, it seemed like an easy/tasty project to try.  I love an excuse to make brownies!
I took Martha's idea and made it even simpler.  I actually used a recipe from Joy of Baking that makes brownies that are meant to be somewhere between cakey and fudgy.  I wanted a moist brownie and also one that would hold up well.  Since I made sure to take my brownies out of the oven earlier rather than later, mine turned out more fudgy, which is how we like them.  Instead of embedding a peppermint patty into the brownies (as well as using one for the faces) as per Martha's recipe, I just added a little peppermint extract into the batter to reinforce the flavor, keeping things simple and not too crazy minty.  
I don't know if everyone's a fan of peppermint brownies but my son loves it and selfishly, of course, I was thinking of him.  He wanted a batch for himself and after I let him sample one, he really wanted to keep the entire batch.   In other words, these are my kid-approved!  Somehow, I did manage to pack up most of the brownies and they now reside with many other creepy and not-so-creepy treats awaiting the school bake sale.
Have a fun and safe Halloween!  Once Monday rolls around, it's officially time to talk Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I can hardly wait!

I doubled this brownie recipe to bake in a 9x13 inch pan.  It's a basic one-bowl recipe, which is one thing to really love about making brownies.  That, and the abundance of chocolate involved!
I added a little peppermint extract and some espresso powder to the recipe.  In about 25 minutes or so, they were ready to be pulled out of the oven (you want to still have moist crumbs attached to a tester).  The trick is to let the brownies cool in the pan a bit - enough so that they don't melt the peppermint patties we put on top but still warm enough so that the patties will soften and adhere to the brownie top!
I waited about 15 minutes only (instead of the 25 minutes suggested in the recipe) because I was worried about the brownies getting too cool.  I might have jumped the gun a bit.  I think I could have waited another 5 minutes or so but it's really a wait-and-see kind of situation that you have to make a judgement call on.  

I laid the patties on top of the warm brownies, lightly pressing them down.  In a bit, I noticed the chocolate around near the bottom of the patties melting a bit.  The tops of the patties also got a little shiny (i.e., it was melting).  I just left it alone and let the pan sit at room temperature to let the whole thing cool and harden again.
But before the top totally hardened, I put the candy eyes (which I bought at Target but you can sometimes find them at craft stores) on and pressed those into the top of the peppermint patty.  If your chocolate isn't a little wet like mine was, you can simply use some icing to "glue" the eyes on.  Now, I let the whole thing cool to room temperature before slicing them into squares and using icing pens to draw on the mouths.
I think that was pretty easy!  Taste-wise, I was very happy with this recipe.  The brownies were moist and fudgy, with a good height on them to give you a hearty bite, packed with solid chocolate and peppermint flavor.  
I call this a tasty and fun way to get into the Halloween spirit! 

Recipe:

Halloween Peppermint Brownies
Brownie recipe adapted from Joy of Baking; Decorating idea from Martha Stewart

- Makes up to 24 brownies (I sliced them a bit larger to make 20) - 

10 ounces (300g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
1/4 cup (30g) cocoa powder 
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Scant 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

To decorate: 24 small peppermint patties, candy eyes, red and white colored icing pens

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter (or spray with cooking spray) a 9x13 inch baking pan, line it with parchment paper allowing for about 2 inches of overhang on two sides.  Lightly grease the parchment paper.  

Melt chocolate, butter, and espresso powder (if using) in a bowl set above a pan of just simmering water.  Remove bowl from the pan and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly with each addition. Whisk in the vanilla and peppermint extracts.  Stir in flour and salt until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top.  Bake until a tester inserted into the brownie comes out with a bit of moist crumbs, about 25-30 minutes.  Avoid over-baking.  Set pan on top of a wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.

While the brownie is still warms (but not hot), lay peppermint patties on top, lightly pressing each down.  Let cool for about 30 minutes, then decorate with candy eye balls.  If the eye balls do not adhere to the peppermint patties, use a little icing to "glue" them on.  Let cool completely (you can speed up the process by placing the brownie pan in the refrigerator) before slicing into squares.  Use icing pens to finish decorating the faces.


27 comments:

  1. These brownies are so adorable. I love how simple yet fun the decoration is.

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    1. Simple is my game of choice! ; ) It worked alright, I think...

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  2. Replies
    1. A little way to get into the Halloween spirit...thanks!

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  3. These are wonderful Monica! I miss making things for their parties and bake sales - but pretty soon my grandson will be heading to school so I do have him to spoil! This really is a cute idea and the texture of the brownies looks perfect. Love it - I am ready to talk Thanksgiving! Bring it :)

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    1. There are so many rules now, including no food at any class parties. So different from when I was growing up and I looked forward to all the cookies and cupcakes! But there are a few outside of school bake sales like this one. These were cute and my son is crazy for peppermint brownies so he's loving it...Bring on the holidays! Yooohooo!

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  4. SO cute, Monica! I love this post! Easy, fudgy brownies would have been a winner on its own. I am forever trying new brownie recipes in search of THE ONE. :) Adding mint makes these extra special. The easy decorating idea is so much fun. The little brownie monsters are going to be a huge hit at your bake sale! (p.s. I followed the link to your owl cupcakes and was smitten by their sweet faces too!)

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    1. Thanks so much, Wendy. Owls are a theme at our school so I wanted to do those cupcakes but timing was a bit tricky and I thought the brownies would be easier to make and package. : ) These brownies turn out nice and moist. The original recipe called them "scaredy cats" but even with some chocolate chip ears, they didn't look like cats to us...more like monsters or bats, as my son suggests. Fun though in either case. : )

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  5. I hope your son has an awesome Halloween!! These brownies are just so incredibly fun! Plus, so easy which I love! Especially for someone like me who isn't really super into halloween and wouldn't want to put a lot of time into spooky treats!! lol

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    1. They had a great afternoon today at school with hay rides and pumpkin painting. As 5th graders, they "ran" the event. It was very cool.
      And you pretty much described how I feel as well. These are totally easy treats up my alley. And the great thing is kids seem to love brownies - smart kids! ; )

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  6. Gosh, these brownies totally win the prize for cutest Halloween treat ^_^ Looks delicious!

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    1. I don't know about that but I'm glad I managed not to melt all the patties and make a mess. They worked out well enough. :)

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  7. Hi Monica, I just know we are always going to see a wonderful holiday dessert from you every time. These are adorable, your son must feel very special.

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    1. My desserts are pretty plain and simple, and that works well for me. It just usually involves a lot of chocolate and that also works very well for us! : ) Thanks, Cheri.

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  8. Happy Halloween dear Monica (even if you don't really get into it). These are simply adorable! :D

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    1. Your halloween spirit inspires me, Lorraine. : ) Happy Halloween!!!

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  9. I love your recipe. These brownies are so so cute! Happy Halloween Monica!

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  10. These brownies are so so adorable, Monica! I can just imagine what a hit these were at your son's school bake sale! So fun & festive! I love the peppermint patties & peppermint extract that you added to the brownies too! Hope your son had an awesome time trick-or-treating and you guys had a great Halloween and rest of the weekend :)

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    1. You are so sweet, Kelly! Thanks - it was a very busy day yesterday but a good day overall! : ) Hope your little ones enjoyed all the festivities. Are they over-loading on the candy/chocolate?!

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  11. Adorable brownies! I'm sure they were a huge hit.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. Hope you had a nice Halloween!

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  12. What an awesome mom you are! Your brownies are so cute!

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