Spring Brownies with Peppermint Frosting

spring brownies with peppermint frosting
spring brownies with peppermint frosting

Spring is the best time of year. Plants push up out of the ground and crisp scents are everywhere. So, what does this have to do with baking? Well, I’m giving a nod to spring with a treat slathered in minty-fresh, spring-green frosting.

A chocolate brownie is the perfect base for a mint topping, so I have adapted these Spring Brownies from my Quick Brownie Bites. The brownies have a buttercream frosting that is boosted with the addition of peppermint extract and green food coloring.

Even with a swath of frosting, the goodies needed more decadence so I added chocolate ganache. After taking the blog photo, I asked my favorite taster if it looked okay. He replied with an emphatic “yes” so I felt fantastic. That was until I realized he thought I was asking if he would like the plate of brownies. But, his blind faith in my baking skills is good, too.

Spring Brownies with Mint Frosting

Brownies
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup Dutch Processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup neutral flavored vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon non-dairy chocolate milk
1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Peppermint Frosting
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tablespoons vegan butter
3-4 teaspoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste)
green food coloring
Chocolate syrup or ganache, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of 8 individual cups of a brownie pan with parchment paper squares, then grease the cups and paper with vegan shortening. (You can use a mini muffin tin with liners if you don’t have a brownie pan).

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, oil, vanilla, and chocolate milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared brownie pan, filling the cups three-quarters full. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until set on top. Let the brownies cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

While the the brownies are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat the powdered sugar and vegan butter together until creamy. Add enough non-dairy milk to make the frosting spreadable. Stir in the peppermint extract and food coloring. Frost the cooled brownies and chill until set, for 15 minutes. Decorate with chocolate syrup or ganache.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

Periodically I go through my baking supplies to find expired items. It also helps reacquaint me with lesser used ingredients. A recent search uncovered black cocoa powder from my Cream-Filled Mini Cakes. This cocoa is a Dutch process cocoa powder which is “washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa’s acidity to a pH of 7.” The black version is bittersweet and is alkalized to a pH of 8. It is also the signature taste of Oreo Cookies, so I went into the kitchen to make a version of that iconic treat.

I found a chocolate cookie recipe that I veganized by substituting with non-dairy equivalents. I was concerned about using my special cocoa powder because Dutched cocoas, especially the heavily Dutched black cocoa, are used a little differently. “Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.” When I realized that you want an Oreo-type cookie flatter to make cookie sandwiches, I stuck with baking soda as my leavener and it worked beautifully.

To finish my cookie sandwich, I dug up a recipe for flavored cookie fillings. I took the standard vanilla type and added coffee extract which added deeper flavor and a slight hue. I also thought that mint sounded tasty and was the perfect backdrop for my Color Garden plant-based food colors. Their food coloring isn’t as intense as artificial ones so I used more. If using another brand, use a drop at a time to get your shade. I liked my filling pale green.

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings adapted from The Cooking Channel and Sugar Hero
1/2 cup vegan stick margarine, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, well packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1.5 tsp non-dairy milk
In a stand mixer, cream together margarine, sugars, and vanilla until light, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to margarine mixture and mix just to combine. Add milk, in a few segments, and mix just to combine. Form dough into two 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
To bake: preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each log of dough into 1/8-inch-thick coins. Arrange on baking sheets with 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating trays in the middle of baking time. Bake for another 2 minutes or until they are dry looking and firm. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then slide cookies onto racks to finish cooling. Makes 4 dozen cookies, or use the filling below to make cookie sandwiches.
Flavored Fillings
1 cup vegan stick margarine, at room temperature
4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
For Coffee Latte flavor: 1 tsp vanilla bean paste + 1 tsp coffee extract
For Mint Flavor: 1 tsp mint extract + 18 drops Color Garden green food color
Combine margarine, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until powdered sugar is moistened, then turn to medium speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, until it has a lighter color and fluffy texture. Don’t over-mix. It needs to be somewhat firm. Divide into two portions to make two different flavors. For Coffee Latte: add vanilla bean paste and coffee extract. For Mint: add mint extract and green food coloring.

Color Garden food colors

Color Garden food colors

Until next time, happy baking!