I was originally intending to do a Valentine’s post today, but it fell off my radar completely, and though I did bake something today to fit into that theme, you’re just going to have to wait a couple of weeks to see that one (upside though? It’s not something that has to be Valentine’s themed, so it’ll totally still be doable any time of year! I’ll keep you in suspense for now though 🙂 ).
Anywho, moving on to today however, looking at these photos, I know you want to make these immediately. Look how adorable they are! Little mini cups of hot chocolate (aka brownies filled with various goodnesses and then topped off with mini peppermint marshmallows and the salty goodness of a pretzel handle. Can you say irresistible? Of course you can’t because you’re too busy eating these to say anything at all 😉 ).
I don’t know what it is about mini things like this that I find so incredibly charming. It’s all I can do not to make what Kevin calls my cute dog noise (the obnoxious squeal that I can’t help but make whenever I see a cute dog….well, any dog…well any animal really…that is so high pitched that I think only the dogs can actually hear me) when I see these. Maybe it’s a throwback to childhood or something? You know (although I didn’t actually have one), those doll houses that had all those teeny tiny house things in them? Miniature plates and cups, and itty-bitty pots and pans. I usually pride myself on not getting all girly about things, but I have to admit that there’s just something about this kind of cuteness that just lures me in. Don’t tell anyone that I said that though OK? It might make me lose my (non-existent) street cred 😉 .
These only ended up coming into existence because I had procured for myself quite a while ago both pumpkin flavoured (I know, I know, but you can’t still be sick of pumpkin spice season now can you? It’s winter for goodness sake!) and peppermint flavoured mini marshmallows. When I happened to be in a store that had these vegan marshmallows, it didn’t matter that it wasn’t actually something I needed for any reason, I had to buy them. A reason would announce itself eventually I figured. Now though, aside from us putting the peppermint ones on top of the odd mug of actual hot chocolate that we had over Christmas, they’ve basically just been sitting in my cupboard, mocking me. The thought of them just going stale and being tossed out was just way too sad to even contemplate. It was giving me heart palpitations of sympathy (is that possible?).
And so, I said to myself – how to use up these little babies of puffed up sugar? I knew I wanted to use the peppermint ones first, and I definitely wanted them to shine in all of their minty glory. Also, for no apparent reason, I also just wanted them to be actually visible. After a little internet searching (and by a little, I really mean that I fell down my usual rabbit hole of recipe Googling wherein I intend to spend five minutes or less looking something up, and the next thing I know, I’ve whiled away hours of my life gazing adoringly at other people’s ingenious desserty concoctions. Such is life. It’s not really a waste of time though if I’m taking my “learnings” and applying them to my own baking right? It’s legitimate research! That’s what I’m going to choose to keep telling myself anyway 😉 ) I stumbled upon the idea of miniature hot chocolate cookie cups.
These cups are a scrum-diddly-umptious two layer (or three layer depending on whether you consider the brownie cup itself a layer… or possibly even four layer if you want to count the marshmallow/candy cane topping as a layer too!) concoction of joy. The brownie cup is stuffed chockful of chocolate peppermint ganache, then, to lighten it up a little, it’s topped off with some peppermint icing (to represent the whipped cream) before tossing on a few mini peppermint marshmallows and crushed candy cane pieces because I had them on hand. Sheer bliss.
The photo above is a total homage to Kevin because I went on a long rant at him about not using the pretzel handle as an actual handle to pick these up because the handle is just barely clinging to the brownie and it just can’t take the weight. So this is a total fake out picture. Enjoy! 😉
Oh brownie cups, you’re so hot you’re cool 😉 .
Yield: about 20 “cups”
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 egg replacer
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup coffee liqueur/ Kahlua
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- pinch of sea salt
- mini vegan peppermint marshmallows, cut in half (optional)
- crushed candy cane/ mint pieces (optional)
- pretzels (enough for the handles)
- a bit of melted chocolate (or just use some of your peppermint ganache if you have enough left over) for attaching pretzels to your brownies
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
Peppermint “Whipped Cream”:
- 1 tablespoon vegan cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a mini muffin tin and set aside.
- Melt ½ cup of chocolate chips, butter and coconut oil either in a double boiler, or microwave until melted and smooth.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, mix together the egg replacer, sugar and vanilla. Mix in the melted chocolate mixture and then the coffee liqueur.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt then gradually beat into wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour batter into mini muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes. As I said, I probably left these in the oven for too long. They do end up looking really wet, but they set up quickly once they’re out of the oven. I recommend removing them after they just start to brown at the edges (the middle will still look totally liquidy, but don’t worry about that) to avoid the overly crunchy situation that I ended up with.
- Once brownies have slightly cooled and solidified, press in (or scoop out) the centre of each brownie to create a deep well.
- While the brownies finish cooling, make your peppermint ganache by placing chocolate chips in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine non-dairy milk and peppermint extract. Heat the milk-mint mixture in the microwave until it just starts to boil. Pour over chocolate chips and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth and place in the refrigerator for about an hour to allow it to set up a little bit.
- Fill the cavity you’ve created in the brownie cups with the ganache and place in the refrigerator while you make the peppermint “whipped cream”.
- In a small bowl, beat together all your “whipped cream” ingredients until smooth and place in a piping bag (or small ziplock bag with the corner cut off…or if you’re feeling lazy, you can just use a spoon for the next step).
- Remove brownies from the fridges and pipe on a dollop of peppermint “whipped cream”. Top with mini marshamallows and spinkle with candy cane bits if desired.
- Break your pretzels so that they look like little handles (hopefully you have more than you need because they won’t all break perfectly). Dip the edges in melted chocolate and attach to the side of your brownie cups.