I can never seem to decide where I fall when it comes to the great debate: pumpkin spice or chocolate peppermint. I look forward all year to pumpkin spice season but am never disappointed when it is over because I know that peppermint bark season is just around the corner. This year, I think everyone’s anticipation to get through 2020 has prompted vendors to get rid of their pumpkin products earlier and start stocking their shelves with candy canes and hot cocoa. It’s not even Thanksgiving, and Trader Joe’s already stopped selling their pumpkin ginger “hold the cone” ice cream cones! I left the freezer aisle crestfallen until the cashier told me that the chocolate peppermint flavor will be stocked soon. Now it’s just a waiting game.
in the meantime, I have been dreaming of all things chocolate peppermint and scrolling through Pinterest in search of ways to satisfy the itch for Christmastime’s arrival. Originally, I thought to do another cookie recipe, but then I realized I hadn’t made brownies in a while. That’s not to say that I won’t be making cookies anytime soon, but I thought brownies were a perfect vehicle for crushed candy cane pieces and peppermint buttercream.
These brownies are grain-free, made with just 1/4 cup of coconut flour, and lots of rich, chocolatey goodness. I will admit that when I created this recipe, my first attempt was an absolute failure…as was the second, but the third time certainly was the charm! Striking the right balance of wet to dry ingredients is so crucial to achieving the right texture in a brownie, but also the right bake. Ultimately, this ingredient combo lends itself to rich, yet fluffy brownies with an intense chocolate flavor that is balanced by the buttercream.
I also thought about whether to make the buttercream vegan, but I decided that if the brownie itself is guilt-free, there’s nothing wrong with making the frosting a little more indulgent. And, as Zach noticed, these have the right ratio of frosting to a brownie, which of course, is 1:1. Although you could certainly substitute the buttercream with a vegan version to make this recipe dairy-free, in my opinion, a good ole fashioned buttercream is second to none.
What’s in these brownies:
- Coconut Flour: Often flourless brownies tend to look more like hockey pucks rather than the indulgent and rich brownie I crave. However, coconut flour is a wonder when it comes to these brownie bites and makes for the fluffiest two-bite treat. The beauty of coconut flour is that a little goes a long way so not very much is needed to achieve the right consistency for these brownies.
- Chocolate Chips: If you are making brownies, there had better be some chocolate chunks in the batter! To me, there is nothing better than biting into a brownie and getting that extra-fudgy bite. They aren’t organic or made without refined sugar, but Nestle’s dark chocolate morsels are undeniably my favorite chocolate chip to add to brownies and cookies. Decadent and creamy, they have that perfect melt-factor when baked into brownies.
- Peppermint Extract: To truly sell the peppermint flavor in the buttercream, make sure to buy peppermint – not mint – extract. The subtle peppermint essence in the buttercream makes these brownie bites irresistible!
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup crushed candy cane pieces
- 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
- 2 tbsp milk (dairy or non-dairy works!)
- pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray, making sure that each well is coated on all sides.
- In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, coconut flour, salt, and baking soda, and whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, melted and cooled coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup together.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture to form a smooth batter. Then, add the chocolate chips into the batter.
- Add roughly one tablespoon of batter to each well of the muffin tin so that each well is about 2/3 of the way filled.
- Bake the brownie bites for 8-10 minutes until a toothpick comes out of them cleanly.
- Allow the muffins to cool to room temperature before removing them from the tins.
- Next, make the buttercream by beating the powdered sugar, salt, and softened butter together on medium-high speed. After the butter and sugar have come together, add in the peppermint extract and milk, and mix again to fully incorporate. If necessary, you can add more milk as needed to help the frosting come together. Finally, add in the chopped candy cane pieces and stir into the frosting with a spatula.
- Pipe the frosting over the top of each brownie bite and optionally, add more crushed candy cane pieces to each one.
- Enjoy! These brownies are best stored in an air-tight container at room temperature to avoiding them drying out and to maintain freshness.