A Brownie Experiment


A Brownie Experiment

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Sometimes I have an idea for a dish (in this case a brownie) and I get really excited about it. I talk about it and think about it. Sometimes I remind myself of the cute kid in the Disney commercial. I get so excited I can’t even sleep!

I’ve made brownies before with cream cheese in them, but I wanted to try something different. I’m a huge fan of mascarpone and thought that a mascarpone brownie might be really interesting. That was my great idea. I’m sure it’s been done before. The point is though that I completely botched it. More on that later.

This, however, was the successful version.

I say successful, but it still wasn’t perfect. I tried to make my mascarpone frosting myself and it didn’t turn out perfect. After doing some research, which by the way I failed to do before making the dish, I learned that most mascarpone frostings are sort of half mascarpone and half cream cheese. This makes complete sense to me after I tried to make one out of 100% mascarpone. It was A) too sweet and B) not sturdy enough.

Don’t get me wrong, it was edible, but I’ve given a recipe below that I think would make it even better.

Mascarpone Frosted Brownies

9x9 pan
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Brownie (adapted from Mr. Bittman. This makes a very rich brownie)

8 Tablespoons butter
3-4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
A Pinch of salt

Mascarpone Frosting (Giada's version looks like a huge improvement on mine.)

3 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1/3 Cup mascarpone cheese, room temp
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
3 Tablespoons honey
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts (not sure how this would work for a brownie frosting, but could give it some great texture.)


1) Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl or saucepan and put it on low heat. Use a metal bowl and then set it on some boiling water to melt everything slowly.

2) Once the chocolate and butter is melted, slowly mix in the sugar and eggs until everything is combined well.

3) Slowly add your flour and then spread it all out in a buttered 9 X 9 pan.

4) Whip the cheeses together with the butter until everything is light and airy.

5) Cook the brownies without the mascarpone on them. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350. Ideally though a toothpick would come out pretty clean from the center.

6) Cool the browning before frosting (sticking them in the oven for 30 minutes would work)!

7) Frost the brownies and enjoy!

Making the Brownies

I tend to like a really rich, intense brownie. I want it chocolate-filled and dense. I might work on a brownie recipe that is a bit lighter and more cake like, but this one is rich.

To start, combine your chocolate and butter in a bowl or saucepan and put it on low heat. I use a metal bowl and then set it on some boiling water to melt everything slowly. If you are putting it over direct heat, watch it closely and stir it continuously.

The backbone of the brownie.
The backbone of the brownie.

Once your chocolate and butter is melted, slowly mix in your sugar and eggs until everything is combined well. Try to make a face!

There is a face in there somewhere...
There is a face in there somewhere…

The original recipe calls for vanilla extract, but I’ve recently discovered almond extract and it has kind of changed my life. I highly recommend trying it out.

Whoa flavor.
Whoa flavor.

Slowly add your flour to the party and then spread it all out in a buttered 9 X 9 pan.

Ready to bake. What could go wrong?
Ready to bake. What could go wrong?

The Mega Fail

Ok. So on round one for these brownies I tried to make them exactly as I would the cream cheese brownies. So I made a mascarpone mixture and tried to kind of fold it on top of the brownie and bake it. It works very nicely with cream cheese because cream cheese is sturdy and bakes well.

Turns out that mascarpone is closer to butter and ends up just melting all over the place.



Round Two

Not to be defeated, I immediately went to the store, bought some more chocolate and gave it a second shot. This time I figured I would just use the mascarpone as a frosting and this was a much better idea.

(Side note that at this point Betsy thinks I’m crazy. I’m cursing at my oven, flinging butter and chocolate all over the place, running to the store and back in the rain… it was really an all-star performance.)

If I were to do it again though, I would use the above recipe which I think would be just about perfect. I used 100% mascarpone for mine and it was still a bit too light. It really needs a touch of cream cheese I think to make it hold together.

In any event, you basically just whip the cheeses together with the butter until everything is light and airy.

A lot better.
A lot better.

Baking the brownies

Cook the brownies without the mascarpone on them. They will need to bake for 18-20 minutes at 350. I always tend to under-cook my brownies rather than overcook them. Ideally though a toothpick would come out pretty clean from the center.

The key part is to make sure that your brownie is completely cooled before frosting it. Otherwise you’ll just run into the same melting problem. In fact, I even stuck my brownies in the fridge for a few minutes after letting them cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

The frosting worked like a charm.

Frosting is the way to go.
Frosting is the way to go.

This was a great lesson for me. Do a bit of research before you start and it can go a long way toward success. I got just a bit too excited about my concept (which in retrospect wasn’t so original) and didn’t take the time to think through the whole dish.

But I’ll say a few things:

1) Brownies are good.
2) Brownies with almond extract are really good.
3) Brownies with mascarpone has very serious potential.

If anybody has tried something like this before, I’d love to hear from you! Also, if you can think of any improvements, as always, leave a comment!

12 Responses to “A Brownie Experiment” Leave a comment

  1. I love the both the original idea and the new idea.

    I wonder… getting back to the old idea… maybe if you treated the mascarpone layer like cheese cake by mixing in an egg with the cream cheese and the mascarpone? I made some bars the other day that had a yogurt and sour cream layer and it needed just one egg as a binder to give it some body just like a cheese cake. That part of the bars came out dense and creamy which is what I think you might have been shooting for? If you can get it to work, the brownies will be so awesome!! I bet they'd have a nice tangy cheesiness on top of the chocolate, yum!!

    To go one step further, if it were me, I would drop some raspberries in there between the chocolate layer and the mascarpone layer so that you have some nice soft berries. But that's just me.. :0)

  2. I love your site Nick! These brownies look so yummy! Im going to try to make them. I just made lemon mascarpone cookies that were so good! I'm excited to start looking on here to get new ideas! I didn't even know you liked to cook!!

  3. I'm not too sure on the mascarpone (never had it) but your brownie recipe sounds exactly like something I would love–do the edges come out really chewy with a bit of a crisp? Because that's the best part is the really chewy, slightly crisp corners. ;-)

    However, I'll be sure to try it with mascarpone, just to see. :-)

  4. @Mimi. I think that may just work. When I hunger for more brownies I might just give that a shot!

    @Bec. This version was pretty fudgy actually. If you like them chewier you can add a extra 1/4 Cup flour and another egg.

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone.

  5. Ha! I can relate to all of what you've talked about. I OFTEN cannot sleep because I'm thinking about a recipe or blog idea all night long. Sometimes I wake up in the morning though and I think… 'what was I thinking… that was a dumb idea! (It seemed like a good one in the middle of the night.)' And I will often try things out without really knowing the chemistry of baking or anything… sometimes it happens to be a success and sometimes not. I once made a Raspberry Beer Bread 6 times (went through the whole 6 pack of beer) before I gave up and called it a failed experiment. Isn't it funny what we'll do to perfect a recipe??!

  6. I love the idea, marscapone is a delicious sub for the cream cheese (or to split with the cream cheese), fail or not the final batch looks pretty tasty!

  7. Fantastic! Nick, I cannot tell you HOW MANY TIMES I have messed something up trying to learn it! The thing is, you will always cherish your failure, and be better for it. You have also learned something about intuition in cooking. Good on you.

    I also like the fact you are willing to show your failure. Shows that you are really into it. Cheers man, and thanks for the wicked post.

  8. hello. tastespotting pointed me your (brownie's) way. now, i'm one of those anti-frosting dessert fiends, but i am perpetually on a quest for the perfect brownie – fudgey, dense, and rich. the more solid, the better. judging by your photographs, this brownie looks like it will make the cut. thanks for posting! and judging by your previous and next posts, i do believe i'll have to click that "rss feed" button so i can follow all the treats you share :)

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