I’ve been a fan of this video since it debuted in 2005. I also decided in 2005 that the next time I went to NYC I would “hit up Magnolia and mack on some cupcakes!” The next time I went to NYC was in July 2009 for my honeymoon. Casey is a good husband and a good sport, and so we hoofed it to Greenwich Village and got some of the most expensive delicious cupcakes I’d ever had. Fast forward a few months. We were at Barnes and Noble one night and I spotted this book and that was what I got for Christmas that year. I was so excited, but the recipe I’ve made most often out of the book is the Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Icing. I make them so much that Casey calls them “my brownies” (we also refer to them as “$20 brownies” because it’s a huge pan of brownies and they’re obviously a bit more pricey to make than say, a Betty Crocker boxed mix). I’ve made these probably 20 different times and I have making them down to a science. It all starts with butter. Lots of it. And we all know butter is good.
I haven’t ever actually tried the cream cheese icing recipe that accompanies the brownie recipe because I have a recipe that is really good, and also because I like to switch up my frostings a bit (the last time I made them I made them with a chocolate mint butter cream – yum).
Brownie Recipe from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook; Frosting Recipe from myself
3 cups cake flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature (one of the tricks I’ve learned from making these probably 20 times is using VERY soft butter – you don’t want it melted but you do want it soft to the touch. Also the recipe calls for unsalted, I use regular old salted butter because that’s what I keep in my freezer)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup cocoa powder
5 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk (preferably whole)
2 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted.
To make the brownies: Place chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12x18 inch jelly roll pan with foil or parchment paper, then coat with nonstick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Lightly beat the eggs, then add to the creamed mixture and mix well, scraping down the sides of your bowl. Add the vanilla. Add the chocolate and mix until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes (in my oven, it’s precisely 26) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
Let brownies cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, cream the butter and vanilla, then add the powdered sugar. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until a spreadable (but not too loose) consistency is reached. You want the frosting to go on smoothly but hold its shape at room temperature. Once the brownies have cooled, frost liberally. To garnish, drizzle horizontal stripes of melted chocolate approximately 1 ½ inches apart (this part isn’t an exact science…you just want it to look pretty. You may not need the entire 2 ounces). With the tip of a butter knife, drag your knife vertically through the frosting.
Other variations I’ve tried that have been completely awesome:
Pecan Brownies - Add chopped nuts to the brownie batter, then top the frosting with some additional nuts and mini chocolate chips. (On a personal note, I think adding nuts to brownies is a form of blasphemy, but I did this for Casey and my dad, both of whom love brownies with nuts...that's love!)
Mint Brownies – Add 1 tsp mint extract (I prefer to use regular mint as opposed to peppermint because I don’t like the taste) to your frosting and garnish with some smashed Andes mints.
Cream Cheese Frosted Brownies. Substitute one brick of cream cheese for one of the sticks of butter in the butter cream. If you want straight cream cheese frosting simply omit the cocoa powder.