Happy almost Thanksgiving, friends! You probably have pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole on your mind, but I’ve been testing out holiday recipes and couldn’t wait to share this one with you! My favorite flavor combination this time of year (after I’ve eaten everything pumpkin) is chocolate and peppermint. Last year I shared a recipe for double chocolate peppermint cookies, which were a hit at holiday parties! The peppermint chunks complement chocolate goodies perfectly, so this year I decided to use them in brownies. And since I like things to be extra when it comes to sweets, I added a cheesecake layer and chocolate ganache. The more decadent the better, right?! These brownies are dense, fudgey and super chocolatey thanks to espresso powder and dark cocoa powder. Even if you don’t like coffee, add the espresso powder! It doesn’t make them taste like a mocha, it just amps up the rich, chocolate flavor.
The cheesecake layer is very simple to make and adds that delicious tangy flavor. I was going to stop there, but to be honest, my cheesecake layer wasn’t very pretty. It had some lumps and got a little darker than I’d wanted it to. To cover it up, I added chocolate ganache on top. Sometimes baking mistakes can lead to great ideas! This creamy, chocolatey layer makes these brownies even more sinfully delicious! Lastly, sprinkle with candy cane pieces or peppermint sprinkles and you’re all set! I store them in the fridge so that the ganache doesn’t get too soft, but let them warm up to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!
- For the Brownies:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp. espresso powder
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup white chocolate peppermint chunks
- For the Cheesecake:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- For the Ganache & Topping:
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- Crushed candy canes or peppermint sprinkles
For the Brownie Batter:
- Line a 9" x 9" baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Add granulated sugar and whisk to combine. Next, add the eggs one at a time, whisking between each addition until smooth. Whisk in vanilla.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt until combined. Add peppermint chunks and gently fold until combined. Pour into prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. Set aside.
For the Cheesecake Layer:
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed for 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Reduce to medium speed and gradually add the sugar. Add the egg and extract and mix until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary and mix until smooth.
- Pour on top of the brownie batter and use a spatula to create an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with just a few crumbs. If the cheesecake layer begins to brown, cover with foil. Remove from oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Ganache & Topping:
- Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes without stirring.
- Stir until smooth and let cool for about 15 minutes (it should be room temperature). Pour over the baked cheesecake layer and then add sprinkles. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing in refrigerator.
- Let brownies cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours, then cut into squares and enjoy! I like to let them warm back up to room temperature, but if you're too impatient they are good cold, too :)