I’ve made Christmas cookies every year for as long as I can remember and through the years I’ve developed a list in my head of what a potential cookie should have before it has a chance to grace our cookie bags:
- Is it rich? The richer, the better- it is the holidays, after all!
- Is it different than an everyday cookie? Again…holidays and all that.
- Is it hard? When I’m making a bunch of cookies, I can’t be bothered with complicated.
- Is is chocolate? I’m always leaning toward chocolate, and most people seem to like them best as well, but I will do a few non-chocolate confections just for balance. *wink*
- Does it have a “wow factor?” You know the kind I mean- usually ooey-gooey, pretty, and/or frosted.
I’ve been told that our cookie bag is the one most coveted at the holidays, so I think my list of requirements is what everyone secretly wants, too- even with all the fruitcake, gingerbread, and sugar cookie recipes out there.
Not that there’s anything wrong with fruitcake, gingerbread, or sugar cookies. I’m just sayin.’
These Mini Almond Joy Brownies (inspired by a recipe I saw at The Farm Girl Recipes) meet all these criteria – and then some – so they are making an appearance in our cookie bags this year for the first time.
And they are actually very easy even though they have a great “wow” factor. I started with a favorite brownie recipe and cooked the batter in mini muffin cups (the recipe is from King Arthur Flour, and it is good).
When they had cooled, I combined some unsweetened coconut with some sweetened condensed milk. I know it’s a bit harder to find unsweetened coconut, but the regular sweetened coconut combined with the sweetened milk is just too sweet in this recipe. Trust me.
And less sugar is always a good thing, no?
Then I mounded spoonfuls of the coconut mixture on top of the mini brownies and topped each one with an almond. The almonds could easily be left out – but you’d need to call them “Mini Mounds Brownies” then, wouldn’t you?
After freezing the coconut-topped brownies for a few minutes, I dipped the tops in an easy ganache that I like to make. Just chocolate, butter, and a bit of honey.
Oh yes, these babies will be a hit, I’m sure. Problem is…I think I’m going to want to make them more than just once a year.
Mini Almond Joy Brownies
For the brownies:
- 1/4 c. butter (plus more for greasing the muffin tins)
- 1/4 c. coconut oil (can use all butter, but the coconut oil flavor is good with the topping)
- 1c. + 2 Tb. sugar
- 2 lg. eggs
- 2/3 c. cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. espresso powder (optional- enhances the chocolate flavor)
- 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 c. flour (I used whole wheat pastry with good results)
- 1 c. chocolate chips
For the filling:
- 2 c. unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk (sorry- I dislike recipes that use half of things but there’s no getting around it…unless you make a double batch!)
- 36 whole almonds
For the ganache:
- 3/4 c. bittersweet chocolate
- 1/3 c. butter
- 2 tsp. honey
- Make the brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 36 mini muffin cups using a pastry brush and softened butter.
- In a medium sized saucepan, combine the butter, coconut oil, and sugar. Stir over low heat until the butter and coconut oil are melted; continue to heat until the mixture is hot (110-120 degrees), but not bubbling (heating to this point will dissolve more of the sugar which creates a shiny top on your brownies).
- Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder and vanilla until smooth. Add the hot sugar mixture and stir. Add the flour and beat til smooth. Quickly stir in the chocolate chips (not too much or they will all melt).
- Use a small cookie scoop (or some other way to get an even amount of batter into each cup) to fill the mini muffin tin cups evenly with the batter.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Place tins on a rack to cool before removing brownies.
- Make the filling: combine the coconut and the milk.
- Scoop about a teaspoon of coconut mixture onto the center of each cooled brownie, molding it into a smooth top. Place an almond in the center of each coconut mound.
- Freeze the mini brownies for 15 minutes.
- For the ganache glaze: combine all the ingredients in a microwave-safe glass dish (or in the top of a double boiler) and heat just until melted (about 30 seconds in the microwave).
- Remove the brownies from the freezer and dip the tops in the ganache glaze. Let sit until glaze is set and then store in an airtight container.
I’m partnering with these wonderful bloggers to bring you this “Five Days Of Christmas” series of holiday ideas and inspiration! Be sure to check them out:
A Slob Comes Clean – Getting Your Home Company Ready
Feels Like Home – Christmas Traditions
Somewhat Crunchy – Christmas with Dairy Allergies
Spell Outloud – Children’s Books
Mama’s Learning Corner – Children’s Crafts
Many Little Blessings – Edible Gifts
Sunflower Schoolhouse – Decorations
Catholic Icing – Wishing Jesus Happy Birthday
The Traveling Praters – Traveling
The Homeschool Classroom – Gifts Kids Can Make
Mama’s Laundry Talk – Laundry Gifts
This is linked to Friday Food.