I wasn’t shocked when The Pioneer Woman won last week’s poll. She’s pretty much the most popular thing since Barack (2008). The hard part though was deciding what to make out of her latest cookbook. I didn’t really want to make a meat heavy dish which eliminated about 75% of the recipes, so instead I focused on desserts – something that she is very good at.
It was a hard decision, but the thing that caught my eye the most were these mocha brownies. They have a huge layer of mocha icing on top of the brownie. It’s basically half brownie and half frosting. Plus it has all the major dessert food groups: butter, chocolate, sugar, coffee.
These were so very delicious. Betsy and I had one each and then resolved to get them out of the house as soon as possible. I took half to work and she took half to her law clinic.
1) Add butter and sugar to a bowl and beat it on medium speed with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. After a few minutes the mixture should be light and fluffy.
2) Carefully and slowly melt chocolate in the microwave on low. 30 second increments is ideal.
3) Add eggs one at a time to the creamed butter and mix together. Then mix in chocolate and vanilla.
4) Mix in your flour in a few batches. Try not to overmix. Just mix enough so the flour is incorporated.
5) Bake the brownies ina 9×13 inch baking pan that’s been lightly buttered. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
6) Let brownies cool completely to room temperature before frosting them.
7) For frosting, mix butter, salt, vanilla, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl until well combined. Then stir in brewed coffee and mix until it’s light and fluffy.
8) Frost the brownies heavily. It will be a thick layer. Serve immediately or let them chill in the fridge for an hour to firm up a bit.
I made changes to her recipe which I’ll be careful to disclose so I don’t get flack from The Pioneer Army. First, the original frosting recipe calls for 5 Cups of confectioners sugar, but it doesn’t say sifted or non-sifted so who knows how much she uses. I used 1 pound of sugar which is a full box. This worked out to be about 4 cups of sugar for me. She also calls for 1/2 Cup to 3/4 Cup of coffee so I just used the lower estimate and my frosting was perfect.
If you wanted to go buy a second whole box of sugar though just for that extra cup, then by all means use the higher estimate of coffee.
Second, and I think this was a legit oversight, she says to bake the brownies in an 8 inch pan. I tried pouring my mix into an 8 inch pan and it almost overflowed. That’s before even baking it. I think I would’ve had a brownie explosion on my hands if I had followed the recipe exactly. Instead, I baked it in a normal 9×13 inch pan with excellent results.
The Brownie Batter
I must say I don’t really get the fuss with boxed brownie mix. I mean, making it from scratch just isn’t really that hard. It’s one of those things that I definitely don’t see the appeal of taking shortcuts on. I mean, to make really good homemade brownies, this is all you need!
You probably have almost everything you need if you have even a halfway stocked kitchen. You’ll probably just have to pick up some chocolate and maybe some vanilla.
To get started, add your butter and sugar to a bowl and beat it on medium speed to cream the butter and sugar together. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer for this. After a few minutes, you should have a very light and fluffy mixture.
Next, slowly melt your chocolate in the microwave. What I mean by slowly is that you shouldn’t zap it all at once for like 4 minutes. That would completely burn your chocolate. Instead, zap it in 30 second increments and stir it in between.
Once the chocolate is about 75% melted you can take it out and the rest of the chocolate should melt with residual heat. Mine took about 1 1/2 minutes of zapping to get here.
Back to your mixing bowl, add your eggs one at a time and then your vanilla and chocolate. Mix this all together until it’s well incorporated.
Then slowly add your flour in a few batches. Be sure to turn your mixer down to low for the flour part or you will just dust your entire kitchen in flour.
Mix it until your flour is incorporated but don’t over-mix it or you’ll have tough brownies! When you can’t see any flour, you’re done.
Baking the Brownies
Add your brownie mix to a 9×13 inch baking pan that’s either been sprayed with non-stick spray or lightly buttered. Bake the brownies at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until the center is set. A toothpick should come out clean.
Don’t worry if the brownies do what mine did which is inflate slightly around the edges and then crack. Remember we are adding an inch of frosting to the top so whatever.
The Important Part
The most important part of this recipe is to make sure you let your brownies cool completely to room temperature before frosting them or your frosting will just melt. This will probably take at least an hour so plan accordingly.
This is actually one of the easier frostings I’ve made. Start with these things:
Add them to a mixing bowl with the salt, vanilla, and butter and start mixing on medium-low until everything is starting to come together. Then add your coffee slowly and once it’s all added, increase the speed to medium and beat it for a few minutes until it’s very light and fluffy.
Drop this huge amount of frosting onto your brownies and spread it out as evenly as you can.
Once the brownies are frosted, you could eat them right away, but I recommend sticking them in the fridge for at least a few hours so the frosting hardens a bit. That’ll make them easier to cut.
These brownies have a great coffee flavor. Be sure to use pretty strong coffee for them. Also, the actual brownie part is super dense and almost fudge-like which I appreciate.
Minus the baking dish mess-up, I’d say this is one of the better dessert dishes I’ve made in awhile. It was a huge hit at my office. And while my coworkers aren’t at all picky about free desserts, they know a good brownie when they see one.