Who doesn't love a good brownie? Adding a cream cheese frosting is the best way to take a basic brownie recipe to the next level without getting overly fancy. These frosted brownies are perfect for parties, and pretty much any other occasion. They come together easily and quickly, and are also a great activity if you enjoy baking with your kids! This is a fun recipe for beginners.
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Things You'll Need
7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
4 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate (baking chips or chopped)
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
Optional: 1 tablespoon espresso powder
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
9x13 baking pan
Stand mixer or electric mixer
Fine mesh strainer
Bowls, spatulas, whisk
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
When it comes to the best tasting brownies, better quality ingredients will lead to the tastiest results. If possible, don't skimp on ingredients like chocolate and cocoa powder. Espresso powder, which is not the same as finely ground regular espresso, is an optional ingredient that adds tremendous depth of flavor to many chocolate recipes. It can be purchased online or in gourmet shops. A little bit goes a long way, so one container will last for a long time and is a great addition to any spice cabinet.
Step 2: Melt Chocolate and Butter in a Double Boiler
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with baking spray or butter, and line with parchment paper, allowing two sides to hang over the edges (this will make it easier to remove the brownies).
Place 5 ½ ounces (11 tablespoons) of the butter along with the bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl and set over a medium saucepan filled with approximately 1 to 2 inches of water. Turn the heat to medium to create steam under the bowl, and stir constantly until the chocolate has melted. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Step 3: Add Remaining Brownie Ingredients
Whisk in the sugar until smooth, followed by the eggs, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and espresso powder, if using. Switch to a spatula and stir until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
Step 4: Bake
Spread evenly into the prepared baking pan, leveling out the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes clean from the center.
Step 5: Allow to Cool
Allow to cool (the frosting will melt if the brownies are too warm).
Step 6: Prepare Cream Cheese Frosting
While the brownies are cooling (or while they're baking), prepare the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and remaining 3 tablespoons of butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract. Turn the mixer off and add the confectioners' sugar, then turn the mixer on low to combine. Once the sugar has incorporated, turn the mixer back up to medium-high for several minutes to smooth out the texture.
Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature or the frosting will be lumpy.
Step 7: Frost and Slice
Once the brownies have cooled, top with the cream cheese frosting. Slice and serve.