My hope is the name "Are you f-ing kidding me?' frosted brownies" paints an accurate depiction of the most amazing chocolate buttercream-topped fudgy deliciousness one could ever imagine. And while my name for this dessert may appear to be vulgar, since "death by chocolate" and "better than (fill in the blank)" were already taken, that's what seemed most appropriate.

This dessert was born from my obnoxious desire to be known in my circle of friends as the reigning goddess of all things baked goods. This desire is sort of a sister trait to my hideous need to dominate all gingerbread house decorating competitions. But I'll save that for a more festively appropriate time of year. 

Last weekend we had friends coming over for a somewhat casual dinner at our house and I wanted to whip up a special dessert using only ingredients I had on hand. With that parameter in mind, I flexed my creative muscles (and ransacked my pantry) to come up with a dessert combination that's one part "semi-homemade," and two parts "over the top." 

As you may have deduced from previous recipes like the baked brie bites and pea soup shooters, I love making things in individual serving sizes. I think they work well when entertaining, and lend themselves to a more sophisticated presentation. 

Though one of my pet peeves of pan made brownies is that I always fail to create neatly cut brownies like the ones you see in the store or on Barefoot Contessa. Therefore, I got to thinking...why can't I bake brownies in cupcake tins?

Trying out this idea, I used a high quality boxed brownie mix as my base. (My off the shelf brownie mix of choice is Ghirardelli brand, found at most grocery stores, Target, and even Amazon.) I followed the instructions and, using a 12 cup muffin tin, portioned out the batter accordingly. I reduced the bake time to account for the smaller sizes and in no time had the base for my dessert.

After I baked the brownies and removed them from their tins I felt they were looking a little naked. Since I didn't have vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer (an automatic complement to a super chocolaty brownie), my mind strayed to other options. Raspberry glaze? Maybe. Frosting of some kind? Hmm, interesting. That buttercream I recently made for the baby shower cupcakes was pretty amazing. Why not try to create my own chocolate buttercream? After confirming I had exactly one stick of butter in my refrigerator as well as the other necessary ingredients, I got to work.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half and half (I used half and half)

Note: This is a half sized quantity for 12 brownies. For a cake or 24 cupcakes, I'd recommend doubling the ingredients above.

Directions

Using an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. The real key here is to use room temperature butter. You can cheat and microwave to soften it (maybe 8-10 seconds, max), but it's much better to let it soften on it's own. Trust me here. I've been around the butter softening block.

Slowly sift powdered sugar into the mixing bowl, combining with butter at low speed. As it combines the butter and sugar mixture will begin form somewhat fluffy concoction.

Now comes the seriously important part to this recipe...the cocoa! Add the cocoa as you did with the powdered sugar, slowly mixing it into your bowl. 

As the cocoa mixes in, you'll see the mixture turn into something that looks...well...um...slightly less than appetizing. Don't worry, you're doing it right.

Once fully combined, scrape down sides and add the salt, vanilla, and cream. Mix again at medium speed until well combined.

After a few more minutes of mixing you will see your frosting ingredients transform into a fluffy and delicious topper that can make just about any dessert more delicious. Heck, don't just stop at desserts, add it to regular food too, can't hurt, it's chocolate frosting!

The main thing you're looking for at this stage is the desired consistency. If it doesn't look quite right to you, you can either thin out the frosting with an additional tablespoon of cream, or you can easily thicken it by adding more sugar. Just keep working with it until it looks the way you want it to.

At this stage I always taste the frosting and use the excuse that I'm "trying to determine if more salt needs to be added." It's a legitimate excuse since you don't want it to taste salty, but a small amount really brings the other flavors to life. In our case, we didn't need to add any salt, but I (and Alex) "tested" it a few times just to be sure.

In addition to the simple process of combining ingredients in the right order to make really good stuff, I've also recently come to terms with the value of using "really good ingredients." As I previously mentioned, I used to roll my eyes every time Ina Garten would say "really good vanilla" on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, and as much as it pains me to admit it, she's right. (Though I still roll my eyes every time Jeffrey appears.)

I recently received a gourmet baking supplies basket as a gift, and between the "really good vanilla" and the "I think I died and went to heaven cocoa powder," my heart has nearly stopped beating. A reader previously shared a tip to purchase better cocoa, but since my Hershey's hadn't yet run out, I hadn't ventured into this new territory. All I can say is, "Where have these ingredients been all my life?!?" I'm a true convert, and although they're more expensive than the familiar labels of my childhood, I will never go back.

Now that I've climbed off my baking soap box, I can tell you more about how I placed the buttercream into a disposable icing bag complete with my favorite Wilton tip. 

I added a swirl to the top of each brownie and was thrilled with not only how they looked, but how delicious the buttercream tasted. 

But why stop there? Alex has a tendency to be a bit of a baking house-elf. Without my knowledge he'll get a hankering for some cookie dough and whip up a batch of some type of cookie to satisfy his craving. As luck would have it, he just happened to have whipped up a batch of homemade peanut butter cookies a few days prior, and these beautiful chocolate bombs of buttercream were just calling out for a little something extra. So I sliced each cookie in half...

...and used the little half moons to adorn the top of the brownies. Now we were in business.

The night of our dinner party the four of us greedily devoured the chocolate decadence, and if I remember correctly, between bites of the euphoric coma-inducing chocolate, at least two of us coined the name of these desserts by uttering the phrase, "Are you f-ing kidding me?" I'm relatively sure the 'f' stands for frosting. 

Do you have a favorite dessert that you like to make or eat? Perhaps you've experimented with making a traditional dessert in an unexpected flavor, shape, or size? I'd love to hear about your top picks, as I'm always interested in finding new and different ways to make dessert the course of the meal that really shines.

Comments 15

Comments

Kelly C.
6/28/2013 at 10:06 AM
Yum!! It's only 9 am but now I want one! And, I totally agree with you on the baking supplies. You really can tell a difference although I cringe at the extra cost. I'm lucky to live close to Ross and they (sometimes) have that vanilla for cheap. I have a lot of cooking friends that swear by King Arthur products. I haven't tried them yet, maybe it's time??
Wendy
6/29/2013
You can find this vanilla at Ross?? I'll definitely have to keep my eye out for it next time I stop in. Thanks, Kelly! And yes, you can't try the King Arthur products soon enough. I can't believe what a difference it made.
6/28/2013 at 10:11 AM
I need to start making my buttercream icing with BUTTER. I did a cake decorating class and they told us to use shortening, I guess because then if we were adding colour it wouldn't be distorted? I also have an expensive little bottle of Wilton clear vanilla. Anyway, these look amazing and I want to eat them all. Hips be damned.
Wendy
6/29/2013
Hips be damned indeed! But it's worth every calorie. :-)

I've never tried baking with shortening. You'll have to let me know how the taste differs if you try it with butter.
Jan
6/28/2013 at 11:26 AM
I make brownies in muffin tins all the time, and wrap and freeze them for individual lunch box snacks. One of the other marching band moms puts half brownie mix, half chocolate chip cookie dough in muffin cups and bakes them, resulting in the best-selling snack table item of all time. I'm still waiting for my homemade vanilla extract to finish fermenting (looks good so far). Need another bottle of vodka to start more!
Wendy
6/29/2013
Oh wow, I never thought about freezing them. What a great idea! And what?? Brownie batter topped with cookie dough? I feel like I haven't really lived up until this point. Must. Try. Soon.

Good luck with your vanilla project. I can't wait to hear how it turns out! Where are you storing it while it ferments, i.e. does it have to be in a dark cool place?
Jan
7/1/2013 at 8:58 AM
The mason jar with vodka and vanilla beans is in one of my pantry cabinets, which is more dark than cool ;-) I guess I could keep it in the basement, but you're supposed to shake it every now and then, so the pantry is a better location. I painted the lid with chalkboard paint so I could write the contents and date on top. It's been fermenting almost 4 months so I'm going to try it soon. Haven't baked much in the last couple months, but now that the kitchen renovation is done ... :-)
peak
6/28/2013 at 11:36 AM
Another very good brand of cocoa is Callebaut, which I purchased through Amazon. It's wonderful!
Wendy
6/29/2013
Thanks for the tip! Once my stash starts getting low, I should give Callebaut a try.
6/29/2013 at 9:36 AM
These brownie sound great. My mom used to make something like this when I was younger but she would add chopped peanuts on top. The peanut butter cookie is great, no better combo out there then peanut butter and chocolate!

Michelle. thebashfulnest.blogspot.com
Wendy
7/2/2013
Mmm. Thanks for the suggestion on adding chopped peanuts, Michelle. I bet that looks beautiful, and tastes delicious!
Tara
7/1/2013 at 4:49 PM
I am totally the same way, Wendy - my secret goal in life is to be constantly known by everyone I know as the best baker. In fact, if someone else I know bakes something, I usually turn around and bake something more complex to "show them". I'm pretty much a baking jerk.

These look amazing! I once made brownies in cupcake tins, but mine were sugar crusted with a whiskey walnut sauce (it was from a super fancy amazing cookbook). These are super cute!
Wendy
7/2/2013
Ha! Baking jerk. I love it!

Did you say "sugar crusted with a whiskey walnut sauce"??? You don't still happen to have the recipe, do you?
Tara
7/2/2013 at 9:24 AM
I found it in a cookbook called "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey" by Jill O'Connor. A quick Google search found the recipe online for ya - here you go! bit.ly/b9FAj The blogger used pecans, but I stuck with walnuts and it was great :)
7/2/2013 at 9:54 AM
These look amazing, sound amazing (the name still has me chuckling) and your presentation is always so beautiful!

I also prefer the boxed Ghirardelli - I find it in a six pack on sale at Costco for $6.99. Yep, SO cheap. Although the Costco one has chocolate chips in it (3 types in each bag - milk, semi-sweet, dark). Does the Ghirardelli version you buy have chips? I feel like with your concoction, that would take it straight to heavenly-status.

Not that they aren't there already! :)
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