Holiday Brownies and a Santa Timer


I was never a huge fan of brownies. Maybe because the only ones I tasted came from a boxed mix. But once I started making them myself from scratch, especially with good chocolate, my viewpoint changed.

Over the years, mostly for the holidays, I enjoy making brownies with various ingredients, which is what makes baking them so much fun. Of course there are nuts, and chocolate and toffee bits, but also additions of liqueurs, like Amarula or Bailey’s. I’ve even made excessively rich brownies with layers of fig and raspberry jams. Almost too sweet, but really festive.

In any case, two things happened recently. Now that the holiday season has begun, I decided I would test out a recipe for brownies that I’ve been eyeing a long time. It’s very chocolatey, using only bittersweet chocolate, and there’s a topping of dried cranberries, pistachios, and candied ginger. Isn’t that intriguing?!!

Also, I received a lovely gift of a Santa Timer. I immediately fell in love with this little guy, mostly because I adore anything Christmas, but I also thought how much fun children would have with this timer.

Santa Timer 0700_C
If you check out the link to the Holiday Timers website, there are other holiday timers, and they’re available on Amazon.

The timer isn’t only cute, but when the alarm goes off, Santa talks and Christmas music plays. Oh, and it has a magnetic back. Fun!

So here is this holiday’s brownie recipe, inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit.
Holiday Brownies with Dried Cranberries, Pistachios, and Ginger

1 stick, or 4 ounces unsalted butter
24 ounces bittersweet chocolate, divided
Two oranges
3 ounces dried cranberries, preferably non-sweetened
3 ounces whole pistachios
1 1/2 ounces fine, crystallized ginger
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 11.5 x 7″ baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang.

Butter the foil using the end of the butter stick. Then place the butter and 8 ounces of the chocolate in a pot placed over a pot of hot but not boiling water.

Melt the butter and chocolate, and when it’s smooth, remove the pan and let the chocolate mixture cool. The best advice I ever read about the process for tempering/melting chocolate, is that you are not cooking the chocolate, you are slowly melting it. If you haven’t tempered before, take your time and do it over the lowest heat.

Once it’s smooth, remove the pan from the water and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

With the remaining 16 ounces of chocolate, chop the bars somewhat finely and place 8 ounces onto two squares of foil. You will have two piles of chocolate, at 8 ounces each. Set aside.

Zest the oranges, and place on a piece of foil or a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the cranberries, pistachios and crystallized ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and the salt in a large bowl, until light and fluffy. This should take about 4-5 minutes.

On low speed, gradually beat in the chocolate mixture, and then the zest.

Add the flour and fold it in just until blended, using a spatula, then fold in approximately 8 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Spread batter in pan and smooth it as best you can. Bake for 25 minutes. And you can bet I used the Santa Timer!

Remove the baking dish from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top with the remaining 8 ounces of chopped chocolate.
Let sit for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften, then add sprinkle on the cranberries, pistachios, and ginger.

Let the brownies cool completely and set, for at least 3 hours. Then slice carefully.

The original recipe called for melted white chocolate to be drizzled over the top of the brownies, but I thought that a bit too much chocolate, although it would be pretty. I guess you could use a caramel drizzle as well.
But I didn’t think a drizzle was necessary!

Be aware, however, that these brownies are sweet, rich, and gooey.

69 thoughts on “Holiday Brownies and a Santa Timer

  1. These brownies look Special – with a capital ‘S’ for emphasis! And I love the photos with the Christmas greens & sparkling lights, plus the eggnog and that cute-as-heck Santa timer! One of my sons is coming over today to help with me some ‘things’ and I know he won’t be happy to learn that one of those ‘things’ is heading out to the 2nd floor of the barn to drag down some Christmas decorations!! ; o )

  2. What a fantastic holiday recipe! I love the combination of pistachios and cranberries. I’ve never used crystallized ginger before, is it just like a sweetened version of regular ginger? Also, these photos are just wonderful- I love the Christmas background!

  3. Dear Mimi,
    I used to make brownies often, but then grew tired of them. But I’m wowed by this recipe. It looks like the process of preparing them would be fun because of all the textures and colors. This will probably be my Christmas cookie for the season.
    RuthAnn Ridley, Inspiring Cuisine
    Cookbook for Christmas Gift

    • I actually used espresso powder! A trick I learned from my mother when she would make chocolate mousse. Guess I didn’t bother writing it down, although it’s probably visible in a photo!!!

  4. You got me with those darn pistachios! I would so make these brownies except omit the orange, but totally keep everything else.Cranberries and pistachios? YUMM I am not a fan of orange and chocolate together, but that’s just me. :)

  5. Great brownies and so very Christmasy but it’s the Santa timer I’m after! It’s so cute and I love how Santa talks and how it plays Christmas music! I want one! xx

    • It is cute. I wanted to take a photo with my grand daughter, but at 14 months she was too young to really understand what it was. Plus she probably would have flung it across the kitchen!!!

  6. What a beautiful brownie, I never thought of brownies with fruit and nuts but what an awesome idea! Are you still having fun with the Santa Timer ;) xx

  7. Cranberries?! Pistachios?! Candied ginger?! I don’t really care what’s underneath that topping, although the brownie sounds good too. I’m going to link to this recipe in my next weekend roundup — these are truly festive, lovely brownies and I can only imagine how good they taste!

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