Peppermint-topped brownies

Surprise: Thin, crisp sheets of red-and-white peppermint top soft, fudgy bars. Get the secret
Stephanie Dean

Peppermint-topped Brownies

A dark, soft, fudgy brownie topped with rich chocolate ganache and a crunchy sheet of red-and-white peppermint: This was the dessert we envisioned one day in Sunset's test kitchen while dreaming about the treats we'd like to bake for the holidays.

To make the tasty and surprising candy top, we relied on the technique for creating "stained-glass" windows in gingerbread houses: Set hard candies on a cookie sheet and melt them to a flat, glassy pane, then quickly score and cut them while hot.

In our tests, we used round, red-and-white peppermint candies, baking them for varying lengths of time and at different temperatures. After some trial and error, we had what we were after ― crisp, minty, swirly tops that make these brownies like no other.

Set these out at your next open house and watch them disappear.

MORE TOPPINGS TO TRY

Why stop at peppermint? Try these other embellishments for our rich, soft brownies. Be generous with amounts, and chill brownies so that the topping sets.

Coconut and macadamia Sprinkle shredded toasted coconut and chopped toasted macadamia nuts over the just-warm ganache layer.

Crushed toffee Sprinkle crushed toffee bits over the just-warm ganache layer.

Double peanut Warm up natural-style peanut butter (creamy or chunky) and spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until peanut butter is firm; top with ganache and chopped peanuts.

Raspberry Spread raspberry jam over cooled brownies and top with ganache.

Rocky road Preheat broiler. Spread half of the just-warm ganache over cooled brownies, then top with mini marshmallows and chopped walnuts. Broil brownies for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows are toasted and beginning to melt together. Remove from oven and drizzle with remaining ganache.

White chocolate swirl Spoon dollops of melted white chocolate over the just-warm ganache layer and make marbled swirls using a toothpick or a knife.