Treats that you bring forth only once a year make the holiday season all the more festive. While there’s nothing particularly Christmasy about brownies, when you bake them in tiny petit four cups and adorn them with a chocolate swirl, they quickly become a new holiday tradition. I’ve made a version of these almost every year since since my children were young, and even as adults now they’re always delighted to see them again.
Children young and old are drawn to these diminutive treats. Who wouldn’t want a little bite of chewy chocolatey goodness with a pop of tartness from dried cranberries? That swirl of chocolate on top only adds to the appeal. These miniature brownies are positively elfin, wouldn’t you say?
These treats work well on a dessert tray following the big holiday feast, or on the serving table at a holiday open house. I like to have at least one chocolate offering and these little bites satisfy that craving quite nicely, even for your guests who are somehow able to limit themselves to just one.
To make your holiday entertaining easier, bake these elfin brownies in advance and freeze them. They’re a little fussier to make than a pan of brownies, but more than make up for that in charm.
In place of the jaunty chocolate topper, you can customize the garnish in any number of ways, like piping on some white chocolate buttercream or dolloping with ganache and sprinkling with sanding sugar. Whatever you choose, something tells me they’ll become part of your holiday tradition, too!
Elfin Brownie Bites
Look for dried cranberries that have been sweetened with apple juice. They are far less sweet than conventional brands and offer more true cranberry flavour.
Pre-heat oven to 350 ℉. Set out 60 paper petit four cups on one or two baking trays. The cups should be about 1 inch in diameter at the bottom.
- 6 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped tart dried cranberries
- (optional) 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 60 chocolate swirl candies or other topping of your choice
Place the butter, chocolate, cocoa powder and sugar in the top of a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water and melt together, stirring occasionally. When everything is almost melted, take bowl off the pot and set on a trivet. Stir until the mixture is smooth and let cool for a few minutes.
Stir in the beaten eggs and vanilla, followed by the flour and salt. Finally, add in the cranberries and walnuts if using.
Using a piping bag or simply a measuring teaspoon, fill the petit four cups about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 10 minutes. If using the chocolate rosebuds, set one atop each miniature brownie, and then remove them all to a mesh cooling rack. The heat will adhere the chocolates.
If making ahead, you can freeze these with the chocolates on them, but handle them gently. Remove from the freezer a few hours before serving. Occasionally some of the chocolate toppings come loose, but it’s not generally a problem and I just set them back on. Or, you could freeze the brownie bites unadorned and decorate them once they’ve thawed.