Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Ever since I experimented with chocolate peppermint fudge last year, dark chocolate and peppermint has been added to my list of favorite dessert flavor combinations. Of course there is a list.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The decadent chocolate paired with the refreshing peppermint aftertaste is a nice break from all the rich desserts of the holiday season. Packing a triple peppermint punch, these fudgy brownies are for true peppermint lovers.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

First, peppermint extract is baked into the brownies. Second, when the hot and gooey brownies come out of the oven, peppermint bark is layered on top to melt in a thin layer. Third, crushed candy canes are sprinkled on the top to add a nice crunch, to make them look festive and of course to add extra peppermint flavor.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Thankfully Matt is all pepperminted out this season so I have our batch of these all to myself, lucky me!

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part of these brownies, other than their deliciousness, is how fancy they look, but how simple they actually are to bake. So bake some up this holiday season, and remember to keep some for yourself!

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies
 
Yield: 16 brownies
Ingredients
  • 1 batch brownie batter
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 6-8 squares peppermint bark, broken into chunks
  • 3 candy canes, crushed
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8” brownie pan and set aside. If you want thin brownies like mine then use a 9x13” pan instead with the same amount of brownie batter. This will give you 32 brownies instead of 16.
  2. Add the peppermint extract to the prepared brownie batter then pour into the prepared pan. Bake according to the package instructions, being sure not to overbake as brownies will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. I usually pull mine out 3-5 minutes before the package’s minimum baking time.
  3. As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, run a knife around the edges then evenly top with the chunks of peppermint bark before covering the pan with tin foil so the chocolate can melt.
  4. After a few minutes, remove the tin foil then carefully spread the melty peppermint bark with a spatula in an even layer on top of the brownies. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top then refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened. Cut and serve.
Notes
I highly recommend using 1 package of Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix to make these.
 

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

There is something about the holiday season that makes me want to stuff my face with any baked good or candy I can get my hands on. And boy, oh boy have I been indulging. The holiday season only comes around once a year and the wedding diet can wait until the New Year, right? RIGHT? I’m going to assume you all responded with a resounding yes so I can get right back to stuffing my face and not bother feeling guilty about it.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Last Christmas I experimented with several fudge variations and I enjoyed it so much, as did my family, friends, and of course my stomach, that I decided a redux was in order this year. While this delicious thought was floating around in my head I kept coming across mouthwatering brownie recipes on the internet.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

So fate and my desire to consume baked goods prompted this year’s holiday brownie extravaganza! I baked FIVE brownie varieties and they were all amazing so of course I will be sharing them all with you. This first one I’m sharing is so outrageous you may have to pause right now and take a deep breath. Ready?

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chocolate drizzled peanut butter crunch chocolate brownies. What happens when you coat crispy crunchy Special K with melted peanut butter syrup? Peanut butter crunch is born.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

And what happens when you put the peanut butter crunch in and on top of gooey fudgy brownies then drizzle the whole thing with melted chocolate? A call to the doctor because your friend, coworker or roommate is concerned as to why you just fainted in your chair reading this post. Yes, this is real folks, and you should make them today. Your holiday season indulgent self will thank you, along with any brownie receivers if you’re nice enough to share.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Crunch Chocolate Brownies
 
Yield: 24 brownies
Ingredients
  • 1 batch brownie batter, enough for a 9 x 13 pan
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups Special K, or similar cornflake cereal
  • 1¾ cup chocolate chips, semisweet or milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13” pan and set aside.
  2. Prepare the brownie batter according to package directions. Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Put the Special K in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine the peanut butter and corn syrup in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to heat in 30 second increments until the peanut butter mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla then pour the peanut butter mixture over the Special K and carefully toss to fully coat.
  5. Evenly distribute ¾ of the peanut butter crunch mixture onto the brownie batter in the pan by dropping small clumps of the peanut butter crunch mixture right onto the batter. Pour on the other half of the brownie batter being sure to cover as much of the peanut butter crunch mixture as possible. It is okay if it doesn’t all get covered.
  6. Bake according to package directions. Be sure not to overbake as brownies will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. I usually pull mine out 3-5 minutes before the package’s minimum baking time.
  7. As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, run a knife around the edges then evenly sprinkle 1 cup of the chocolate chips on top before covering the pan with tin foil so the chocolate can melt.
  8. Meanwhile, place the remaining chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on half power then stir. Heat for 15 seconds on half power then stir. Continue until the chocolate is smooth.
  9. Remove the tin foil from the brownies and carefully spread the melty chocolate chips with a spatula in an even layer on top of the brownies. Top with the remaining peanut butter crunch mixture then drizzle with the melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened. Cut and serve.
Notes
I highly recommend using 2 packages of Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix to make these.
Recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

New England Harvest Salad

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you heard of Boloco? They are a Boston based burrito joint, but these are not your average Mexican burritos. Self-described as “globally inspired burritos” they take it to the next delicious level with creations like Bangkok Thai, laden with addictive spicy peanut sauce, and the Mediterranean, complete with black bean hummus made in house.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although Boloco, which is a mashup of Boston Local Company, is mostly based in Boston, they do have several locations in Massachusetts outside of Boston and have spots in New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and even Maryland! And in case you were wondering, no Boloco is not paying me for this or even aware I’m writing this blog post, I just love their food that much!

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorites was a recent addition last year: the New England Harvest Salad. I normally don’t get so jazzed up over a salad, but this dish is so outrageously tasty I eventually had to re-create it myself. This here is a sautéed kale salad topped with quinoa, roasted squash and fresh cranberries, shredded beets, roasted balsamic mushrooms (told you those bad boys were going to make an appearance!) and goat cheese.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you told me I could only eat one salad for the rest of my life I would pick this one without even hesitating. In addition to the addictive mouthwatering qualities of this salad, which caused it to never even make it to the table and instead be eaten standing at the counter, this salad is healthy. Just look at all those superfoods!

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since all the components are warm, other than the shredded beets and goat cheese, I made extra so all Matt and I had to do was throw the leftovers in the microwave the next day then top with the cold ingredients for a quick, healthy and satisfying dinner.

New England Harvest Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

New England Harvest Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces peeled and cut butternut squash (1” cubes)
  • ⅔ cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces roughly chopped kale, hard stems removed
  • 1 small red beet
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 batch Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and set aside.
  2. Toss the squash and cranberries with the 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil then place on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  3. Meanwhile heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale and half a cup water. Cook until the kale is tender and the water has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Peel the beet with a vegetable peeler then grate with a microplane. Set aside.
  5. To plate the salad first layer the kale. Top with the quinoa, followed by the shredded beets, balsamic roasted mushrooms and the roasted squash and cranberries. Finish by sprinkling with the goat cheese. Serve warm.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mushrooms, oh mushrooms! They are an ultimate ingredient sent straight from the heavens. Mushrooms are amazing for a wide variety of reasons. One is their versatility- sauté them, bake them, roast them, grill them- you get the idea. Another reason for their amazingness is that they complement and enhance so many dishes and cuisines. French, Japanese, Northern Italian and Chinese cooking all would be lost without the heavenly mushroom. The final reason, at least in today’s list as I’m sure there are many, many reasons, mushrooms are just so amazing is one that you probably are aware of, but have never put a name to it. It is the mushroom’s umami quality.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Uma-whatnow? Umami has long been defined by the Japanese as the fifth taste (in addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter), which is described as a delicious savory or meatiness. You know that indescribable rich taste you get from a mouthwatering cut of steak, an oyster, or a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese? That, my friends, is umami taking over your tastebuds.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

In 1985 scientists determined that the umami taste was caused by foods high in glutamate. In the last 15 or so years, it has become a popular term among chefs, critics and foodies in the United States so you may have heard it before on Top Chef or the Food Network. To me, umami describes a bite that isn’t a sweet dessert, but makes you go “oh-my-this-is-melting-in-my-mouth-amazing-is-this-real-life-right-now???”, or, you know, something along those lines.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

These balsamic roasted mushrooms will definitely make you experience that fifth taste. Chop up some mushrooms, toss them with balsamic and herbs, then bake until tender and this dish could not be any easier. Serve alongside some steak, tossed with a cream sauce pasta, on top of a spinach salad or just eat them by the forkful. Wait until you see how I serve them later this week!

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley)
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard and parsley in a medium bowl. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper then place on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden and tender, tossing once during cooking.

Lemon Cheesecake with Cranberry Raspberry Compote

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

The lemon cheesecake that serves as the base of this recipe is the first cheesecake I ever baked from scratch. Matt had gotten me my stand mixer for my birthday (lucky girl!) and I wanted to christen my new kitchen toy with an epic recipe. After days of sifting through cookbooks and blog posts to pick the perfect recipe we decided on a lemon cheesecake with lemon curd.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

My, oh my, was it outrageous. I have since made the lemon curd many times over for all sorts of recipes and occasions, but had yet to revisit the fluffy and tart lemon cheesecake. Four years later I decided it was finally time to make it again. I told you it takes me a long time to remake recipes! I thought the lemon would pair perfectly with cranberry for the holiday season because of the flavors and beautiful color.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

This cranberry raspberry compote is simply made with cranberries, raspberries, orange juice and sugar. It is sweet, tart, fruity and a great cheesecake topping.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you have never made a cheesecake before I urge you to give it a shot. You will feel so impressed with yourself when you’re done and your tastebuds will thank you. Although it may seem intimidating, homemade cheesecake is rather simple.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

The key to an extra light and fluffy texture is to keep beating the cream cheese past when you normally think you should stop. If the cream cheese is extra airy before you pour it into the crust you will have an unbelievable texture once it is baked.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemon Cheesecake with Cranberry Raspberry Compote
 
Yield: 12 servings
Ingredients
for the crust
  • 16 graham cracker squares
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
for the filling
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
for the compote
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
Directions
for the crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9" springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor to create crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until the graham cracker crumbs are coated. Evenly press into the bottom and ½" up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
for the filling
  1. Beat the cream cheese until very fluffy. It should almost have a satiny quality to it. Add the sugar then beat until smooth. Add 1 egg then beat for 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  2. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is set, except for the center which should look almost just set and glossy. Let cool to room temperature on a cooling rack then cover the pan and chill in the fridge overnight.
for the compote
  1. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, add the cranberries and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the mixture comes to a boil and most of the cranberries have started to burst, add the raspberries then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Let cool in the fridge. Pour over the top of the cheesecake.
Cheesecake slightly adapted from Sketches and Scribbles.
Compote from Allrecipes.