Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies {and a Hershey's Giveaway}

What is it about the holiday season that makes me crave the combination of chocolate and peppermint? Thank goodness these super rich brownies have both!

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Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

Am I the only one out there who starts craving the combination of chocolate and peppermint at this time of year? I don't know what it is about those two flavors together that just screams the holidays, but I can't get enough of it.

(Maybe it just feels that way now that I'm pregnant. When the cravings are there, they are Real.)

Over the weekend, I teased you all on Instagram and Facebook with a picture of the little baking project I was working on. Of course, I did everything within my power to make sure the brownie recipe featured a whole lot of chocolate with a tasteful sprinkling of peppermint.

In a word? Heavenly.

Chocolate-lovers will be fighting with each other to get the last brownie in the pan. With cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate chips and a rich homemade chocolate buttercream frosting, I promise these brownies will be the holiday treat your friends and family members will be raving about. I should know -- I brought this batch to a holiday party and received compliment after compliment  about them.

Keep reading to get the recipe and to enter to win my latest giveaway sponsored by the generous folks at Hershey's!

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Hershey's Baking Staples

This all started when I received a fun package in the mail full of Hershey's baking staples...

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Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

... a bag of Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips...

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Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses

... a bag of Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses...

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Hershey's Natural Unsweetened Cocoa

... a container of Hershey's Natural Unsweetened Cocoa...

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Hershey's Recipe Cards

... and an assortment of Hershey's Recipe Cards featuring some of their most popular baking products. As soon as I saw the recipe card for the Ultimate Chocolate Brownies, I knew I just had to try and out. But not without putting a little twist on it to make it my own.

And to satisfy that major craving for chocolate and peppermint that I was talking about earlier.

Ultimate-Chocolate-Peppermint-Brownies-tasteasyougo.com
Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

Thus, my Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies were born!

Did I say that these brownies were heavenly yet?

Because they were.

Everything about them was heavenly -- the aroma filling the kitchen as they baked and cooled, the sugary rush from the chocolate buttercream frosting that I spread over the top, and the look of the finished product after I sprinkled on chocolate chips and pieces of crushed peppermint.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

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Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

Ultimate-Chocolate-Brownies-tasteasyougo.com
Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

First, you'll want to bake the brownies. See how they're studded with luscious Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips?

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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

While the brownies are cooling, whip up a batch of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Try not to eat all of it while you're waiting.

But sneaking a spoonful or two won't hurt!

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Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

Once the brownies have cooled, you can go ahead and spread all of that sinful buttercream frosting on the top of them.

It wasn't until this point in the process that I realized that I should have sifted all the little lumps of powdered sugar out of the powdered sugar before making the frosting. Sifting would make a prettier frosting, but I found that the lumps didn't do a darned thing to detract from the overall flavor of the brownies.

Plus, I still had a layer to go, so I didn't very much care about the lumps. ;-)

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Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

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Crushed Candy Canes

To finish the brownies, grab some more chocolate chips and some crushed peppermint (I used candy canes) and get ready to get artistic. It's time to decorate!

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Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

Go as crazy with the toppings as you want.

See? Now you can't even tell there were lumps in the frosting. ;-)

And, for those of you who are just dying to know what these brownies look like on the inside...

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Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

Ta da!

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Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

PS. You're welcome.

Ultimate Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies
Yield: About 24 brownies | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Natural Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 batch Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (see below)
  • Additional Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (optional)
  • 6 candy canes, crushed

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan or two 8-inch square baking pans. 
  2. Using a stand-mixer, combine the cocoa and baking soda. 
  3. With the mixer still running, add 1/3 cup of melted butter. 
  4. Add the boiling water and mix until the chocolate mixture thickens. 
  5. Add the sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup of melted butter. Mix until smooth. 
  6. Turn the mixer off and add the flour, vanilla extract, and salt. Using a low setting, mix the ingredients until blended completely but be careful not to over-mix. (Over-mixing will result in tough brownies.) 
  7. Stir in the Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, and then pour the brownie batter into prepared pan. 
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes (rectangular pan) or 30-35 minutes (square pans) or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. 
  9. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. 
  10. Once the brownies are cool, frost with the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Garnish with Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, if desired. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. 
  11. Cut into squares and serve!
Recipe by Michelle Rittler, Taste As You Go \\ Adapted from Hershey's

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Yield: About 2 cups | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's Natural Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Using a stand-mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.
  2. With the mixer running, add half of the powdered sugar and half of the cocoa. Add half of the milk.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar and remaining cocoa. Add the remaining milk and mix until the frosting has reached a spreading consistency.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and mix for an additional 10 seconds.
  5. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler, Taste As You Go \\ Adapted from Hershey's

Hershey's Giveaway Details

Way back in the beginning of the post, I promised you a giveaway. Well, here it is!

Because holiday baking season is in full swing, I've partnered with the fine folks at Hershey's to offer my fabulous readers a chance to win a fun prize.

Hershey's will be providing one (1) winner with a Hershey's Baking Staples Prize Package! This package includes the following:

  • One (1) bag of Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • One (1) bag of Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
  • One (1) container of Hershey's Natural Unsweetened Cocoa
  • A set of Hershey's recipe cards

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end at 5:00 PM EST on Monday, December 15, 2014. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided Hershey's baking products at no cost to me. Hershey's will be providing the prize package for this giveaway and will be shipping the prize package directly to the winner. I did not accept monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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