Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways. ~Stephen Vincent Benét
Like a child, I approach bedtime with resistance. I hate to admit the day is through when there were moments squandered and so much more I wanted to do! Rather than ready myself for bed properly and face the next day with more intention, I curl into a ball on the corner of the cozy couch. I burrow under blankets and fall asleep to a program whose ending I will inevitably miss, no matter the length of the show. As with most bad habits, this vicious couch-sleep cycle wrenches me further and further from what I want in the first place: to make the most of each day. I’m working on it.
As much as my sleep habits fight the looming night, my dessert tendencies celebrate the day’s conclusion. Sure, I like a nib of dark chocolate with an afternoon espresso drink, or a morning pastry here and there, but concluding a day with your sweetest bite is like a firework finale- you saw it coming the whole time, but the awe inspiring display lessens the blow of the show’s end. Ignore the diet guides against eating late with me, bake wholesomely, and allow yourself a moment to delight and relish. Then, hopefully, relax, read, drink tea or do something that proactively transitions into bedtime. Then tell me how to do it.
Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with Cocanú Craque (Candied Cacao)
About this Recipe: I recently started reading chocolate labels more carefully, and was disheartened to discover even many of the expensive dark chocolate brands I had been using list Soy Lecithin as their emulsifier (helps fats and liquids to stay blended smoothly). Most of this soy is genetically modified, a practice I do not wish to support. I eagerly discovered Guittard uses a non-gmo sunflower lecithin and real vanilla, in addition to sourcing their beans from small, family-owned cacao farms. Top that responsible chocolate base with the crunch of Cocanú Craque, a candied cacao, and you have one very memorable brownie. Cocanú was founded by Sebastián Cisneros “as a vessel to shake the imagination through tasteful chocolate ideas produced with fine ingredients, technique, and whim.” I’m into it, and I hope you will be too!
Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with Cocanú Craque
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup pure, unsweetened, cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup organic, unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate,* finely chopped
*I used Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips- 63% cacao
1 1/2 cups organic raw cane sugar
5 large, organic/cage-free eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic peppermint extract
~2 oz or more (to taste) Cocanú Craque (Candied Cacao)
Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan; set aside.
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder into a bowl.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate until smooth, stirring often to prevent burning.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until blended. Add extracts and whisk to blend.
Stir melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Gently fold in flour mixture with a spatula until no streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake brownies for 10-15 minutes, until the brownies take shape, but the surface has not fully set. Remove from oven, and top with the Cocanú Craque.
Return to the oven, and bake 10-15 minutes more, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it.
Cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.