Brownies always remind me of Christmas. Growing up, my Mom made brownies dusted with powdered sugar as one of the standard Christmas treats she made each year. Ever since, it just seems like it's not Christmas unless we make a brownie of some sort along with all of our other cookie baking.
I've flipped by this recipe for frosted brownies in my beloved Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for some time now. The picture of the rich chocolate cream cheese frosting just called out to me, as it looked so rich and decadent. And since the holidays are the time for indulging in recipes that are rich and decadent, I thought, why not? I made them first for my husband's co-workers and also for some family and unfortunately didn't get to take pictures of them. But, I knew as soon as I tasted them that they would become a new favorite recipe at our house. That just gave me an excuse to make them again-- the ol' "I have to bake these for the sake of the blog excuse." The brownies were dense and fudgy with delicious chunks of semi-sweet chocolate mixed in. Then, of course, that frosting was heavenly. Thick and creamy and slightly tangy from the cream cheese. It's then whipped into a deliciously light consistency and spread over the cooled brownies-- an instant hit for sure!
The brownies, while very moist and chocolaty, are more of a cake-like type (which happen to be my favorite kind). They are still too dense and fudgy to be considered a cake but do well in supporting the icing. Finally, the slight crunch from the chopped bits of chocolate makes this extra special and a chocolate lover's dream-- so perfect for the holidays!
5 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shelled walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
5 oz. cream cheese, cold
pinch of salt
Line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the flour, salt, and cocoa and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed. Pour in the melted butter and mix through. Stir in the nuts, if using, and the chocolate by hand until evenly dispersed.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until the top is firm but the center is still soft. Let cool completely.
For the frosting: Beat together the powdered sugar, butter, and cocoa, in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
When the brownies are cold, spread the frosting over the top.
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook