peppermint double chocolate brownies


When you become a parent, you want to give your kids the childhood that you had, or didn’t have. If that makes sense. You also want your kids to be talented, brilliant, successful in every way.

When we went to the Nutcracker last weekend, there were little ballerinas doing backflips, & I’m sure they were no older than 4 or 5 years old.

Amalia is 5, and she takes ballet.

She practices once a week, & though I’m confident she’s as cute as a peach & learning a lot, she’s not going to be preforming in a professional production of the Nutcracker any time soon.

salem bear cross process

Joseph & I have talked at length about the kinds of kids we want to raise & in this ongoing conversation, one of the reoccurring themes is: we want our kids to be balanced.

Maybe they won’t be the best at anything, but we hope that they’ll be polite, well-adjusted, critical thinkers.

That they’ll be brave, kind, voracious readers, interested in people & learning.

Responsible, compassionate, ethical, with a strong faith in God & knowledge of His love for them & our love for them.

kids reading 1 Note: this was a completely candid photo–I swear. A recent afternoon, eating homemade popcorn (I told you we love our whirly pop!) & reading Tintin, which they all love, btw.


Nothing spectacular about that, but in this day & age, I think I’ll take a well-rounded kid over a prodigy any day.

Not that one has to come at the expense of the other, but the reality is, if you want your kid to be a concert pianist or a Olympic gymnast there’s a lot of sacrifice in other areas that has to be made. And we’ve asked ourselves: would we like our kids to be really, really good at one thing, or “just” good at many things? And time again, we choose the later.

In a word, balanced.

It’s an old-fashioned, un-sexy trait, but an important one for life success. The ability to be emotionally/mentally stable, the ability to make friends, to handle failure or disappointment with grace.  To be decent human being–good, thoughtful, & smart. And of course, to have an appreciation for good food.

I made these over the weekend when we had some friends over for dinner.

When we have friends over, the desserts I make are still vegan, but I often don’t worry about keeping it healthy in any way.

This is one of those desserts–rich & decadent.


peppermint double chocolate brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 24 squares

Serving Size: 1 square, with frosting

Calories per serving: 237

Fat grams per serving: 12 g

peppermint double chocolate brownies

vegan, gluten-free peppermint fudge-y brownies


  • 1 c. room temperature non-dairy butter (I used vegan Smart Balance)
  • 2 c. sucanat | or 2 1/2 c. coconut sugar or 2 c. sugar
  • 3 TBS. Ener-G egg replacer | or 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 2/3 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. mint or peppermint extract
  • 1 c. oat flour (about 1 1/3-1/2 c. old-fashioned oats ground in a food processor or powerful blender)
  • 1/3 c. tapioca starch | or additional oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. dark/semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. room-temperature non-dairy butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 candy canes, crushed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In an electric mixing bowl (I use a Blendtec mixer & love it), cream non-dairy butter & sugar.
  3. Whip egg replacer & warm water until frothy. A note on egg replacer: Though I typically use flax seed as my egg replacer, I didn't want these brownies to have the slightest hint of earthiness--something I don't mind, but I wanted something that my guests wouldn't detect, so I used Ener-G's egg replacer, which has a totally neutral taste. Though I should note, you can make these with ground flax seed with excellent results as well.
  4. Add egg replacer mixture & extracts to creamed butter. Mix for 30 seconds on medium high.
  5. Add flour(s), cocoa powder, & mix for an additional 30 seconds. **A note on flours--I had a reader tell me she had to add more flour than called for (nearly two cups total) & the brownies turned out perfect. I didn't use that much flour, but if you find that your batter isn't thick enough, go ahead & add a few more tablespoons (up to 1/3 or 1/2 c. more) of oat flour if desired.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter into a greased 13" X 9" baking pan (use glass if you have it) or adjust heat to 375 F.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, until the aroma of chocolate mint fills your kitchen, & a toothpick, when inserted into middle of brownies is slightly pudding-like. You may have to cook for up to 5-10 minutes more since oven temperatures vary from oven to oven.
  9. Remove from oven & allow to cool. Brownies will set & firm up after cooling, especially after a night in the fridge.
  10. For the frosting:
  11. Using electric beaters or a small mixing bowl, cream powdered sugar with the non-dairy butter & vanilla extract for a minute or so. Don't overmix.
  12. Once brownies have cooled, frost & top with crushed candy cane. Though I like these warm, they're kinda crumbly just out of the oven, but I found after a night in the fridge, they are the perfect firmness.
  13. Store in air-tight container in fridge for up to a week (but eat within a few days for maximum freshness).

Additional Nutrition Info: 33 g carbs, 1 g protein, 1 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 92 mg sodium; WWP: 7 points

A few more rich peppermint desserts that use non-dairy butter (not gluten-free):
chocolate peppermint cream bars
peppermint dream torte

“healthier” peppermint treats (gluten-free):
my thick & creamy candy cane milkshake & chocolate mint drizzled popcorn
Somer’s peppermint thin mint cookies & Angela’s peppermint patties

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What do you think–would you prefer your kid(s) to be excellent/amazing at one or two things, or just a simply well-rounded good kid? Thoughts, please!


  1. Beth
    on December 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm said:

    Janae: I just made these and they came out like chocolate soup. Is the oat flour amount correct in the recipe?

    • Janae Wise
      on December 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm said:


      Oh no! That’s awful.

      Let’s see, yes–you should have a total of 1 1/3 c. flour + 1/2 c. cocoa powder+ 2/3 c. liquid (the egg replacer mixture) which will be really thick–when you combine with the creamed butter/sugar it will not be as thick, but it definitely shouldn’t be soupy! When you cream the butter & sugar, it’s important not to overmix & to use room temperature (not melted butter). Did you bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F? Did you include all the ingredients including the chocolate chips? Another reader also made them & had success, I wonder if maybe it was the pan you were using, or the temperature of your oven? Did you use egg replacer or flax seed? I’d really like to help you figure out what went wrong–I don’t want anyone else to have the same problem. Let me know…

      • BETH
        on December 31, 2013 at 5:49 am said:

        I made these again, this time with more flour (almost a cup for a half of a batch), and they worked perfectly. Except I made the whole icing recipe :).

        Thanks again for your help!

  2. Jess
    on December 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm said:

    You are so wonderful. I completely agree about the kids, and these brownies look SO perfect.
    I tried a GF, V recipe for whoopie pies and they turned out terrible. But the peppermint filling was scrumptious! So I was wanting a chocolate something-or-other to use the filling with, and this will do just fine. Now I’m just wondering if I should swirl it in or use it as icing?
    Can’t wait to eat these all up!

  3. Keri @ WithLovefromColorado
    on December 11, 2013 at 6:13 pm said:

    I really want dessert now. Can’t wait to try out that recipe.

    Also, I love your thoughts on raising balanced children,

    “Maybe they won’t be the best at anything, but we hope that they’ll be polite, well-adjusted, critical thinkers.That they’ll be brave, kind, voracious readers, interested in people & learning.Responsible, compassionate, ethical, with a strong faith in God & knowledge of His love for them & our love for them.”

    I hope to raise this little one balanced too. I hope that he’s inquisitive and has a love for life and that I can inspire that love and passion. I hope that he can learn to know God by loving the world around him and understanding the love we have for him. I hope that he will understand family.

    In my own life, I’ve sometimes struggled. I’m not great at any one thing. Not an expert. Not brilliant. I’ve thought a lot about what my purpose is. It would be so much easier if I was extremely gifted in some way. And though I’ve struggled to accept myself for where I fall short (in comparison to others), I’m learning to accept that God and my husband and family love me–flaws and all. And maybe my purpose isn’t great or grand, maybe my purpose won’t change the world, but maybe by being present & loving, I will be changed by the world and the God that is present in all parts of that world around me. I wonder if I would have learned such a lesson, or if our son would learn such a lesson, if he were the best at one thing.

  4. Natashia M
    on December 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm said:

    BTW I love the picture of your kids and I love this passage, “The ability to be emotionally/mentally stable, the ability to make friends, to handle failure or disappointment with grace. To be decent human being–good, thoughtful, & smart.”. I think this is so true.

  5. Natashia M
    on December 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm said:

    This looks like such a great alternative to traditional brownies. I’m very excited to try them. Thanks for sharing how to make the oat flour. I learned something new today. 🙂

  6. Emma (This Kind Choice)
    on December 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm said:

    I definitely agree that the parents who encourage balance are helping their children become compassionate, well adjusted people. I do think the personality of each child has a pretty big part to play in whether they go for many different skills or focus strongly on a few, though. When I look at my own family, my older brother and I are both very intense and tend more towards doing a few things very well, while my younger brother has a far more well rounded approach. I think that probably makes for an easier, happier life but it’s simply not who I am.
    The other thing to consider is of course that raising an Olympic swimmer or a concert pianist needs commitment and sacrifice from the whole family, and I’m not sure that works so well in families with multiple children.

  7. Katrina
    on December 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm said:

    Hi! What’s the amount of chocolate chips to add to the batter? I don’t see that listed in the ingredients list. Might make these later this afternoon!! Yum!
    And Laurie, I wish I had gotten a chance for a broad liberal arts education! Instead, I slaved away getting a degree in engineering while completing premed requirements. I still feel like I missed out on certain things about college!

    • Laurie
      on December 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm said:

      I was lucky–although I didn’t think it at the time–that I couldn’t decide upon a college major until right up until the absolute deadline to declare. I was practically a junior! So, I took lots of different classes. My brother who declared a major right away had a very different college experience.

    • Janae Wise
      on December 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm said:

      Oops! I added the chocolate chip amount–1/2 c. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, kinda an important ingredient!

  8. lfwfv
    on December 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm said:

    I agree with you in general, though i think there are exceptions. For example, me! I seriously begged my parents for violin from age 3-4. They wanted me to take piano. I also did gymnastics once per week, and took swimming lessons. I was very involved in church activities, played outside daily (unless i was being punished), and did very well academically. I loved violin. They let me take lessons and made sure i practiced every day. By 6th grade, i knew for sure it was what i wanted to do with my life, and my parents supported me (financially, emotionally, physically etc.), and i really did nothing other than church, school, and violin. But, i was also still driven to do well in school and i could have done other things with my life after high school had i wanted to. Then definitely made sure i was respectful, encouraged my reading habit, and bought me lots and lots of chemistry kits, craft kits and lego kits (my other interests) for Christmas so i could continue to challenge my intellect outside of the school walls.

    For me, violin was my passion and it was not fueled at all by parental pressure. In fact, if anything, they accepted it as being part of who made me me, but they completely allowed me to drive the intensity of my studies. I chose to stay home to practice and my parents would urge me to relax and go out. Sometimes passion is not easily deterred. And we need people who are passionate too, because they give “the well-balanced people” something to enjoy and listen to/watch in their day-to-day life. Does that make sense?

    I would like to raise my own son to be well-balanced and to try to follow his interests and talents. “Average”, as defined by somebody with a lot of varied experiences, good manners, ability to think and relate to others, is (IMHO) not “average” anymore, and i think that is certainly something to strive towards in our parenting endeavors. I want to encourage him to be a reader and to be curious about life and learning (a hunger for life-long learning, to me, is even more important than excelling in school), and to know how to care for and relate to other people. I want him to know what it means to work hard, to appreciate art and nature, and to know God’s love and truth in his own heart. If he’s the next Michael Jordan though, and he needs to lead an unbalanced life to get there because he’s driven by something deep inside him, i will support him.

    Hope that makes sense…

  9. Laurie
    on December 11, 2013 at 11:27 am said:

    Mmmm, peppermint + chocolate! I can’t wait to make these brownies.

    Although I don’t have any children, if I did I would prefer them to be “simply” well-rounded. Having extraordinary natural skill or passion in one area is not something to be actively discouraged, of course, but, in general, a well-rounded person has more options in life. Being exposed to a lot of different things early on in (and throughout) life makes for more compassionate, flexible, and interesting people! Or at least that’s my theory, and what I’ve seen in friends’ children. (Somewhat relatedly, I’m one of those people who thinks a broad liberal arts education would be a good thing for most people.)

    • Janae Wise
      on December 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm said:

      “Having extraordinary natural skill or passion in one area is not something to be actively discouraged, of course, but, in general, a well-rounded person has more options in life.”
      I agree. Though you wonder, if musicians, artists, & writers had been discouraged from being so passionate about one thing, would we have people like Mozart, Mark Twain, & other “greats”? I think if a kid is a passionate about one thing over another, I’ll encourage it, as long as it’s safe & we can reasonably support it.

      I also am pro-liberal arts. Very much so.