Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with a Cream Cheese Swirl

If you read my Sunday Blessings post last week, you know I made a big life decision recently. What you don’t know is what exactly that decision was.
Until now.

Dun dun dunnn! So dramatic.
So here’s the deal. Last week, I officially submitted my resignation with my current company and accepted a new job offer with a non-profit organization where I used to be an intern during college. Telling my current employer was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in a long time, but I am so excited for the new opportunity. Change is difficult, but change is good. Right?
Right.

Now that I have that news off my chest, let’s talk brownies.
I have yet to make brownies from scratch that are as good as brownies from a box. Hashtag sorry I’m not sorry. If you know of a good one, please share. But I’d be hard pressed to believe Ghirardelli or Betty Crocker don’t put up a good fight. In this particular case, I used a dark chocolate mix from Ghirardelli. 

Another reason why I love using a box mix sometimes is because it allows me to spend more time focusing on ways to add to it and make it my own. Not only did I use the help of a box mix for these chocolatey delights, but our good friend Joe (Trader Joe that is) provided me with Candy Cane Joe Joe’s. If you’ve never had them, just imagine peppermint Oreos.

I actually have my aunt/God mother to thank for the Joe Joe’s. The cookies along with some crunchy cookie butter were her Christmas gift to me this year. She knows me well.

Between Ghirardelli chocolate, peppermint cookies, and an easy homemade cream cheese filling, what we have here is one decadent treat. But don’t worry if that sounds too decadent for you. I subbed Greek yogurt for the oil, so that counts for something! If you made a new year’s resolution to lose weight or eat healthier, this totally counts.

Or if you just need something to warm your soul and make you do a little happy dance, these brownies are for you.

One last thing before I go. Happy, happy birthday to my husband! Greg wouldn’t touch these brownies with a ten foot pole, but I’m making it up to him with a special dinner tonight. Dessert isn’t his thing, but a (spoiler-alert) Mexican style dinner is!

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with a Cream Cheese Swirl
(Adapted from recipe on back of the Ghirardelli brownie box)
Makes about 16 servings
Ingredients:
1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix (or another mix of choice)
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
25 Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (or another similar cookie)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten (you will only use half of this)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9×9 inch pan with nonstick spray. Gently twist Joe Joe’s apart and cover the bottom of the pan with half of the separated cookies. Set pan aside.
2. Prepare brownie batter by combining mix, egg, water and Greek yogurt. Pour half of the batter into the pan. Add remaining cookies, cream side down, on top of the batter. Pour remaining brownie batter on top of the cookies.
3. Prepare the cream cheese filling by combining cream cheese, sugar, half of the beaten egg, vanilla and peppermint extract in a small bowl (discard the other half of the egg, or reuse for something else). Use a butter knife or spatula to swirl cream cheese mixture across the top of the brownie batter.
4. Bake 32-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting into squares.