Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Brownies February 22, 2015

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 9:32 PM
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Typically I am not a joiner, especially when it comes to work-related social events. I enjoy sharing lunch with my teammates, chatting with colleagues at professional development meetings, and exchanging rants over the error-prone copier in the workroom. But I usually avoid work parties and Secret Santa and the like. They’re just not for me and my introverted self. So I surprised myself by signing up for the Secret Valentine exchange at work earlier this month. Graduate school has me rather stressed, so perhaps it was a moment of sleep-deprived whimsy. When I drew my secret valentine, though, I was rather excited because I would get to surprise Jenny, our school receptionist. She beautifully handles a job I could never have. She is the one person standing between irate parents and the rest of us. She is kind but firm. I would cry.


On her secret valentine profile, Jenny wrote in the food section that she likes dark chocolate, peppermints, peanuts, and coffee. Immediately I thought of the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Brownies that I had seen on the Girl versus Dough blog around Christmastime. These brownies would incorporate three of Jenny’s four favorites in one go. Plus, they would count towards my February chocolate cooking challenge. I picked up the ingredients for the brownies that very day.


I followed the recipe directions exactly, and soon I was rewarded with a beautiful pan of brownies that smelled ridiculously good.




I made the brownies on a work night, so I hurried along the final stages of brownie making in which the chocolate mocha brownies are transformed into peppermint-topped ones. I did not take as much care as I could have when drizzling on the dark chocolate at the end, so my brownies often had globs rather than decorative streaks of chocolate running across their tops. I wasn’t too worried; I just knew they were going to be delicious no matter what the topping looked like.  The only deviation I made from the recipe was that I used soft peppermint candies rather than hard peppermints, mainly because I knew the leftover soft candies would happily be eaten by my husband.




While the dark chocolate topping was still slightly soft, my husband and I ate a brownie apiece. They truly were as amazing as promised on Stephanie’s blog. She and I apparently share not only a first name but also the exact same taste in brownies–fudgy and chewy, if you please. I gave them 5 stars. John was slightly less enthusiastic, as neither dark chocolate nor chocolate-and-mint are his favorite flavors, but he still gave them 4 stars.  I wrapped up a plate of the brownies and couldn’t wait to surreptitiously deliver them to Jenny the next day.  I knew the brownies were a hit when she oohed and aahed about them on Facebook that night.  Maybe I can be a joiner after all.


Dark Chocolate Brownies March 24, 2014

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 8:29 PM
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For Valentine’s Day, I surprised my husband with the Winning Hearts and Minds Cake from Molly Wizenberg‘s A Homemade Life. When Wizenberg married, she served about 20 of these cakes (that she made herself and kept frozen until the wedding day) to her guests in lieu of a traditional tiered wedding cake. After just one bite of the cake, I could see why. John and I literally moaned with each forkful. For me, this was no big surprise (I do love my sweets, after all), but chocolate is usually not at the top of my husband’s favorite foods list. Between the two of us, we gobbled up the entire cake in just a few days. Ever since then, I’ve practically been dreaming about chocolate. While it is incredibly tempting to bake up another Winning Hearts and Minds Cake, my more rational self knows it would be an unwise move, health-wise. So when I felt the baking urge last weekend, I decided to try out Ellie Krieger’s Dark Chocolate Brownies instead. Chocolate would still be involved, but it would be in a recipe that had received the Krieger treatment: less fat, less sugar, less guilt.


For the chocolate, I used two 4-ounce Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars, and for the flour I used Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Ellie lists chopped walnuts as an optional ingredient, but knowing my husband would be eating these, there was no optional.  I sprinkled pecans instead of walnuts on top of the brownie batter.


I baked the brownies for 15 minutes, but they were not yet done. I kept them in the oven for an additional five minutes, at which point they were definitely cooked all the way through. In fact, I wish I had checked the pan a minute or two earlier.


The brownies were definitely chocolatey, but they were not as dense or rich as a typical brownie. In fact, they puffed up in the pan like a cake, and their texture was more akin to that of a cake than a brownie. John and I still granted the recipe 3.5 stars, for it did produce a decent chocolate dessert. No, it was no Winning Hearts and Minds Cake (which, oddly enough, is more like a brownie than a cake), but it did satisfy my sweet tooth–especially when served warm with light vanilla ice cream on top.


Comfort Food Fix recipes made: 19
Comfort Food Fix recipes still to make: 134


Dark Chocolate Brownies

Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour or whole-wheat flour
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double broiler or heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just enough to moisten.

4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and sprinkle with nuts, if desired. Bake until the wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into 24 pieces.

Yield: 24 servings. Per serving, 4 PointsPlus