Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Cream Cheese Bars

Wait! Don't throw away those candy canes!

You know you were thinking about it, because who really eats those things? (Actually, my kids do.) But really, candy canes leave you with three choices: 
  1. Throw them away.
  2. Pack them up and display them again next year. 
  3. Make Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Cream Cheese Bars.
I dreamt these cookies up before Thanksgiving, but I exercised some self-control because I wanted to post them right before Christmas. My family went to a caroling/cookie exchange on December 14th and I knew this would be the perfect place to debut my vision. The pictures even turned out despite the late lighting because we had so much snow that day and it made it just light enough outside to take some tolerable pictures.

And then that week happened when I was gone every night until late, and all day Saturday, and then we went out of town, and then we came back, and I went to that banquet, and then it was the day before Christmas and I still wasn't quite done shopping, and then it was Christmas, and then I discovered all my sweet food pictures were no longer on the camera because my husband backed them up and deleted them off the camera, and then I watched like 6 movies with my kiddos because it was too cold to go outside, and now I finally present to you Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Cream Cheese Bars! 

Okay. Perfect dark chocolate cookie made with Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder. Cream cheese filling that isn't overly sweet, with a delightful bite of peppermint. Rich, dark chocolate ganche made with Guittard dark chocolate chips (that is actually not that scary to make, it turns out). Candy cane crunch. These cookies are just delicious. Normally I like good-sized portions when it comes to bar cookies, but I cut these smaller than usual because they are kind of rich. Of course, I still ate 3 of them at a time, but, whatever. 

I brought a bunch to the girls who work at the kids' club at my gym as a Christmas gift, and I promised to have the recipe on the blog by Saturday. That was almost 2 weeks ago, but better late than never! Plus, you maybe still need to make a treat for New Year's, or just because. 

True story- when I was getting the photos ready to put on the blog the tastiness they emanated, combined with the memory of the chocolate and cream cheese peppermint filling was so powerful that I took a break to bake cookies. As if I needed more treats in my house! And then my friend, Megan, brought us some peanut butter kiss cookies which were amazing, so this day was a healthy eating day fail. All because of Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Cream Cheese Bars. 

But they're worth it. 

Happy holidays from the Little Red Hen! Never waste a candy cane again. 

Candy Cane Cream Cheese Bars

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup Guittard dark chocolate chips
  • 2 crushed candy canes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. Add flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips. Stir until combined.
  4. Press dough into pan. Bake for 12-17 minutes, without overbaking. Cool completely. Top with Candy Cane Cream Cheese Filling and Dark Chocolate Ganache. Top with crushed candy cane pieces immediately before serving. 

Candy Cane Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 crushed candy canes
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract

  1. In a large bowl, cream cheese, butter, sugar, and peppermint until light and fluffy. Fold in crushed candy canes. 
  2. Spread onto cooled cookie. Chill for 15 minutes. Top with Dark Chocolate Ganache.
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1 cup Guittard dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp light corn syrup
  1. Fill a medium sized bowl with ice and water, to make an ice bath. Place chocolate in a smaller, heat-proof bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small pot. Pour over chocolate, covering completely. Let stand until chocolate has melted. Let stand until chocolate has melted. Add corn syrup and whisk until smooth.
  2. Set bowl in ice bath. Stir occasionally, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour over bars.

Bake the bread. Share the slices.

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