Other than drama-free lunch tables, cosmic brownies were the absolute highlight of my elementary school lunchtime career. There’s something about the colorful chocolate chips and dense, fudgy brownie that just can’t be beat. Unfortunately, this also probably had something to do with preservatives or artifical flavors, but that was the least of my worries back in those days! When a craving for them recently struck me, I was glad to find that there are plenty of copycat recipes out there that you can make right in your own kitchen. I wouldn’t call these brownies healthy by any means, but they’re definitely a delicious and adorable nostalgic treat. Plus, I always feel better when I know exactly what’s in the food I’m eating.
Making these brownies is simple for how delicious they are. You start by combining melted butter, white sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. The mixture will be very thick, so I recommend using a wooden spoon rather than a whisk. Then comes the unique part: add two eggs, and use an electric mixer to beat them in for about five minutes. I’m no scientist, but I assume this is what gives these brownies their uniquely dense, fudgy texture. Once that’s done, you fold in flour and baking powder by hand, and then add mini chocolate chips. I didn’t think I’d like having hard chocolate chips break up my soft brownie, but they melt in perfectly. You could probably sub with regular chocolate chips if you don’t want to run to the store, but I didn’t test for that. When you’re done, the batter will be super thick, and then it bakes for 20-25 minutes or until the center is set. Mine took the full 25 minutes.
The recipe recommends frosting the brownies while they’re still warm, but it also calls for cooling them on a wire rack. To be safe, I let mine cool for about an hour before adding frosting, which is a delicious chocolate ganache. I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, so I used both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I thought the frosting had the perfect level of sweetness and was as thick as I remembered.
I never would have guessed how well chocolate ganache would perfectly replicate the thick frosting of cosmic brownies, but it was perfect! For a final touch, I topped with mini M&M’s. I would have loved to find the colorful chocolate sprinkles of my youth, but the M&M’s were a fine substitute. As for how well this recipe replicated cosmic brownies? It came pretty darn close. The texture is dense and fudgier than any brownie I’ve ever had. In fact, it’s so fudgy that you might want to wash it down with a glass of milk (or my personal favorite, a scoop of Eclipse ice cream). With the thick frosting, these are a little sticker than actual cosmic brownies (hence the ice cream recommendation), but they also taste more real and twice as chocolate-y. I recommend keeping them in the fridge so that they have a firmer texture. I’ll definitely be making them again!
I followed the brownie recipe to a tee, including the resting and cooling time, because I wanted to make sure the texture came out properly. But, I will admit that I made my ganache by combining the cream and chocolate chips and microwaving them until I could whisk them together. I also highly recommend using Dutch Process cocoa powder, as it has an extra dark chocolate flavor.
- For the Brownies:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch Process recommended)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- For the Frosting:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp room temperature butter, cut into small pieces
Sprinkles for garnish (I used mini M&M’s)
- Position your oven rack in center of oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8×8-square pan with non-stick cooking spray, then set aside.
- Place the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl and heat for one minute. If it’s not fully melted after one minute, return it to the microwave and heat in 15 second bursts until fully melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave.
- Add sugar, cocoa powder, and salt to the melted butter and mix well to combine. The mixture will be pretty dry. Allow mixture to sit for five minutes to make sure it has cooled prior to adding additional ingredients.
- After the mixture has cooled slightly, add vanilla and mix well. Add room-temperature eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added. Once both eggs have been added, mix with an electric mixer on medium for 3-5 minutes. I did the full five minutes to be safe.
- In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder, and stir to combine. Add flour mixture to batter and mix by hand to combine. While you want to avoid over mixing, this batter does need to be stirred well to incorporate all the ingredients (the recipe recommends about 40 strokes with a spoon, which is super accurate). Fold the chocolate chips into the batter and gently stir until combined.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a tester comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Once the center has started to set up and no longer jiggles when you shake the pan, it’s time for these brownies to come out to avoid over baking. Cool on a wire rack.
- To make ganache frosting, place chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Warm heavy cream in a small saucepan on the stove until it just starts to bubble. Take care not to overheat and scald the cream.
- Pour hot cream over chocolate in bowl and let sit for approximately 30 seconds, then gently and consistently stir until chocolate all melts. Once chocolate has melted, add in butter and stir until well combined.
- Pour chocolate ganache over the top of the chocolate brownies while the brownies are still warm. Top with M&M’s, chocolate chips or sprinkles. Brownies need to sit 3-4 hours for ganache to firm up prior to cutting. I recommend storing in the fridge.
- Desserts, Brownies
- Total Time
- 14 minutes, 59 seconds
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kaley Rohlinger