|These Might Help|
Recipe by Robin
The joy of the holiday season and the pain of loss are not comfortable companions. And yet, we as individuals have little control over the timing of events. Sometimes loved ones pass away during the holiday season, and sometimes larger groups are decimated by war or other tragedies. Such losses during this time can cause extreme pain in survivors and trigger a host of mixed emotions, almost none of which feel good. And yet, although we have no control over others’ lives, we do have control of our own actions and emotions, no matter how difficult it can seem to start to heal. It helps to remain open to all types of nurturing. Walking in nature, talking with friends, playing music, or performing routine tasks that we enjoy can help. And there’s also chocolate.
|Greg on Mt. Hamilton with Sierras in Background|
|Don't Smash Too Much|
I know I’m out on a limb of personal beliefs here and on thin ice in terms of being able to back myself up scientifically. We all heal in our own ways, and writing is a part of my process. Thank you for sharing it. Do try these brownies out for any occasion where a peppermint lift seems in order, especially during winter months.
makes 20 – 40, depending upon size
½ cup butter
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
Frosting and Topping:
6 peppermint candy canes
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp. (salted) butter
¼ tsp. peppermint oil (extract)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 9” x 13” baking pan. If using stoneware pan, spray with cooking spray rather than buttering.
Put chocolate in microwavable bowl and heat for three 30-second intervals, stirring a bit in between. Add butter and microwave at 10-second intervals, stirring in between. When butter melts, keep stirring till chocolate melts. Cool mixture to room temperature (don’t rush this step).
Beat eggs until light and foamy with wire whisk or fork. Beat in salt and vanilla.
When chocolate mixture is cool, beat in eggs with wire whisk or electric mixer until well mixed and light. Beat in sugar about ½ cup or less at a time.
Sift in flour. With wooden spoon or spoonula, mix only until flour is just incorporated.
Pour batter into buttered or sprayed pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 – 35 minutes. When done, toothpick inserted will be clean or have a few fudgy crumbs clinging to it.
Cool bars completely before frosting. (Don’t rush this step.)
Put candy canes in heavy ziplock bag and crush lightly with rubber mallet. The idea is to keep some of the pieces large enough so red and white stripes can still be seen. Set aside.
Combine semisweet and dark chocolate chips (or use all of one kind) in small microwavable bowl. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is half-melted (this will be about 3 times, but exact amount depends on your microwave). Meanwhile, cut butter into small pieces.
Add butter to chocolate and stir until as melted as possible. Continue microwaving chocolate and butter at 10 second intervals, stirring for about 1 minute in between. At first, chocolate will seem thick when butter is added. Continue microwaving and stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and warm. Don’t overheat, as this will cause chocolate to “seize,” or become hard, grainy, and unusable for frosting.
When chocolate is smooth and warm, stir in peppermint oil thoroughly. Frost brownies immediately with warm chocolate, using a rubber spatula.
Top immediately with crushed candy canes, distributing both large chunks and fine candy dust evenly over the top. Press down lightly into frosting with fingertips. Allow to cool and set up completely. A cool room will help with this.
Cut the brownies up and put them on serving platter. I make 3 lengthwise cuts and 4 crosswise cuts, which makes 20 large brownies. Use a large, sharp knife to make the initial cut; you’ll have to break/saw gently through the peppermint “crust” on the surface. Then use a metal spatula to separate the brownies and lift them out. Cut each brownie in half, if desired, or if you’re going to potluck or other group event.
|For All Winter Occasions|