Mocha Buttercream Brownies

The brownies are chillaxing next to a pumpkin! A real, live pumpkin! There are also beautiful red, purple, and intensely pink carnations, accented with sunflowers, in a vase nearby. My house looks like Martha Stewart's fall decorating team threw up all over it!

The brownies are chillaxing next to a pumpkin! A real, live pumpkin! There are also beautiful red, purple, and intensely pink carnations, accented with sunflowers, in a vase nearby. My house looks like Martha Stewart’s fall decorating team threw up all over it! But I’m okay with that. It’s been a rough year, and I need some holiday swag.

I’m back, my sweet ducklings, I’m back! I come bearing the most kick-ass brownies in the world. Yes, even better than these – because these are them, but topped with mocha buttercream and melted chocolate, which fuses the mocha buttercream (my, how I love that turn of phrase!) and the chocolate topping into a Chocolate Nirvana.

My blogging took a back seat to weeks and weeks of knitting, and I’ve finally finished my very first shawl! The pattern is a free one from Red Heart Yarn, and can be found here. (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the Kate who inspired this beautiful shawl. Who’s Kate, you ask? The link will make everything peachy-keen in Askville.) I am busily working on four knitting projects at once, but I shall endeavour to never neglect my blog like this again. Since knitting and cats go together, let’s all share in a picture of the erstwhile Beast Cat, being exceptionally cute and sleepy!

Beast Cat is enticingly sweet, isn't he?

Beast Cat is enticingly sweet, isn’t he?

Now, back to the recipe at hand!

A close-up of the beauties in their pan, resting. They've worked hard up to this point - it isn't easy being this gorgeous!

A close-up of the beauties in their pan, resting. They’ve worked hard up to this point – it isn’t easy being this gorgeous!

I am tremendously excited about this one, fellas, because it’s kind of an original creation (well, I took several elements and combined them in a novel way – novel for me, at any rate), and because the mocha buttercream is so beguilingly good. I used salted butter to offset the powdered sugar – I usually use salted butter when making a buttercream, as a matter of fact – and it was phenomenal! The salted butter gave the coffee flavouring a huge boost, and added an extra bit of complexity to the buttercream icing. Buttercream icing is usually a one-trick pony, offering cloying sweetness but no intricacies of flavour. Well, this mocha buttercream delivers on both counts: It’s sweet, and it’s surprisingly nuanced.

Ah, so chocolate-y!

Ah, so chocolate-y!

Here, have some layers!

The layers in all their mocha glory: baked fudge at the bottom, surmounted initially by mocha buttercream and ultimately by chocolate and butter melted together.

The layers in all their mocha glory: baked fudge at the bottom, surmounted initially by mocha buttercream and ultimately by chocolate and butter melted together.

The baked fudge is mixed, baked, cooled. The buttercream is spread evenly on top. Chocolate is melted with butter and spread while still warm atop the buttercream, thereby melting into the buttercream. There are still three distinct layers – baked fudge, mocha buttercream, and chocolate – but the melting process melds the flavours and textures noticeably. Making three separate entities for just one dessert sounds a bit like unwelcome homework, I know, but oh, is it ever worth it! You’ll make these and take that first wondering bite, then stare in awe at the gorgeousness you have made. You’ll never want to eat a brownie without mocha buttercream adorning its chocolate-y surface.

This post is dedicated to coffee beans everywhere.

A lapful of joy. Who needs lap dances when you have mocha buttercream brownies? (Don't answer that if you're a politician of any persuasion.)

A lapful of joy. Who needs lap dances when you have mocha buttercream brownies? (Don’t answer that if you’re a politician of any persuasion.)

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Mocha Buttercream Brownies

Yield: 24 brownies in a 9×13″ pan (recipe for each element can be halved, in which case bake brownies in an 8×8″ OR 9×9″ pan)

Ingredients:

For the brownies:
2 sticks unsalted butter
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 cups sugar
2 TBS vanilla
2 TBS brewed espresso or strong coffee, optional
6 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt, optional (I never add the salt)
2 – 4 cups chocolate chunks, nuts, and / or chocolate chips

For the mocha buttercream:
2 sticks salted butter (adds a lovely richness to the taste), softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 – 5 TBS freshly brewed espresso, cooled
Splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream, optional

For the chocolate & butter topping:
16 oz. semisweet chocolate (I used a mixture of milk & bittersweet chocolates)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
Splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream, optional

Method:

For the brownies:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 9×13″ baking pan (use an 8×8″ OR 9×9″ baking pan, if halving recipe), or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt butter and chocolate until smooth and blended. Stir in sugar. (Mixture will become grainy.) Stir in vanilla and espresso, if using, until completely blended. Stir in salt, if using. Stir in eggs, one at a time, stirring until each addition is thoroughly blended. Gently stir in flour, then chocolate chunks.

Pour into prepared dish and bake 30 – 35 minutes. Place dish on cooling rack and cool completely. Do not cut.

For the mocha buttercream:
While the brownies are cooling, beat butter at high speed until creamed. Scrape sides of bowl and beat again; you really want to beat the hell out of the butter. If you’re not keen on such merciless violence against the butter, pretend that the butter has wronged you in the past and proceed.

With mixer on low (so as not to fling powdered sugar around the kitchen), add powdered sugar. When powdered sugar has been mostly incorporated into the creamed butter, increase speed and beat on high until blended. Scrape sides of bowl and beat on high for a minute more. With mixer on low, add cocoa powder. Beat on low until cocoa powder has been mostly incorporated into the mixture, then increase speed to high and beat until cocoa powder is thoroughly blended. Scrape sides of bowl and beat on high for an additional minute.

With mixer on low, add the cooled espresso, one TBS at a time. Add as much espresso as needed to thin the buttercream to a consistency good for icing. Add the Bailey’s, if using, keeping in mind that adding the Bailey’s will thin the icing even further: thus, you may want to use less espresso in favour of the Bailey’s. Beat on medium for a minute; scrape sides of bowl and beat for an additional minute, to ensure that all ingredients are fully incorporated into the buttercream.

When the brownies have cooled completely, ice with the buttercream. Now prepare the chocolate topping; it must be used immediately after making, else it hardens.

For the chocolate & butter topping:
Melt chocolate, butter, and Bailey’s (if using) in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally so that the chocolate doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn (though this is far less likely to happen when using low heat). When mixture is completely smooth, immediately pour over the buttercream-iced brownies. Don’t wait to do this – the chocolate topping will harden rather quickly and render itself un-spreadable! Use a spoon or a spatula to push the chocolate topping evenly along the surface of the brownies. Smooth the top and place brownies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden the chocolate topping.

Once the topping has hardened, cut brownies using a sharp knife. The topping will crack a bit, but this is fine. Store brownies tightly covered at room temperature.

Sources: Brownies adapted from Creative Culinary (this recipe has since been taken down from the site, unfortunately); buttercream is an original creation; chocolate topping and overall inspiration are from All About Food

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4 thoughts on “Mocha Buttercream Brownies

  1. Pingback: Strawberry Tart with Pastry Cream | KitchEnchanted

  2. Pingback: Favourites from 2013 | KitchEnchanted

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