When it comes to holiday goodies, decadent doesn’t have to be complicated, and simple doesn’t have to be ordinary. These brownies—amped up with an extra dose of double dark cocoa and embellished with pieces of peppermint bark—are delightful as they are. But then, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I topped them with a dollop of candy cane-infused whipped cream.
Decadent, simple and way beyond ordinary!
The best part about it (besides the fact that it’s delicious and oh-so-Christmas-y) is that I didn’t have to make a scratch recipe. I used my favorite Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix as the base, and folded broken up Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark squares into the batter before baking, along with a generous spoonful of double dark cocoa blend from King Arthur Baking Company (but any dark cocoa powder works fine).
Make the brownies as directed, using water and canola oil plus egg to moisten the batter. Gently fold in the broken pieces of peppermint bark and spread it out into a buttered brownie pan.
I considered using the chunkier peppermint bark, with actual bits of candy cane sprinkled on top, but decided on the Ghirardelli-style bark for its smooth, meltable qualities and so that we didn’t accidentally chip a tooth biting into a hidden piece of candy cane. They melted completely into the baked brownies, and offered gooey pockets of pepperminty flavor in each bite. If you don’t mind a little crunchy surprise, there’d be no harm in trying these brownies with the chunky style of bark. The contrast of chewy and crunchy would probably be especially popular with kids. No adjustment is needed to the baking time, and be sure to let them cool completely so they set up for easier cutting and serving.
The candy cane whipped cream is much easier than it sounds—I simply warmed heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan and melted two broken candy canes into the cream. This took about 20 minutes, and I kept a close eye on them to avoid letting the cream reach a boiling point. The candy canes did all the work, providing the sweetness, the minty flavor and the pretty pink color. After a thorough chilling, I used the whisk attachment of my electric mixer to whip it into a creamy emulsion.
Ready to make them? Use the “click to print” card below to save this for your recipe files. Merry Christmas!
Peppermint Bark Brownies & Candy Cane Whipped Cream
These Christmas-y brownies bring together two favorite flavors for a 'simple meets special' holiday treat.
- 1 box Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix (or your favorite, plus oil, egg and water as directed)
- 1 heaping tablespoon dark cocoa (I used King Arthur Baking Double Dark Blend)
- 8 squares Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark, broken into pieces
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 standard size candy canes
- Preheat oven as directed on brownie mix package, with rack in center position. Generously butter your brownie pan.
- Combine dry brownie mix and dark cocoa in a bowl and whisk together. Add ingredients as instructed on brownie mix (this is usually some combination of egg, oil and water).
- Gently fold in broken pieces of peppermint bark, and then transfer brownie batter to the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake as instructed and allow plenty of time for brownies to cool.
- Pour cream into a small saucepan with broken candy canes, and place pan over medium-low heat. Stir gently and watch this closely to ensure cream does not boil. It should remain at a gentle simmer with steam floating above the pan. When candy canes have fully melted, transfer the cream to a bowl and refrigerate until fully chilled.
- Use a handheld mixer (or a whisk, if you have really strong arms) to whip the cream to desired fluffiness. Spoon a dollop of the candy cane whipped cream onto each brownie square and serve immediately.
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