A fun but sophisticated brownie that’s undeniably decadent. Top with pistachios for grownups, or switch them out for sprinkles for the kids (note: brownie contains nuts).
- A little softened butter, to grease the pan
- 6 oz semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate, chopped
- 5 T butter (70 g)
- 1/2 C light brown sugar
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, near room temperature (see notes)
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1/2 C salted shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped small (plus more for garnish)
Cream cheese frosting
- 6 T unsalted butter
- 8 oz. cream cheese, cold, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 3 C powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 (F) and line an 8 inch round cake pan with foil. Use your fingers to lightly coat the foil with softened butter. Place chocolate into a small heatproof mixing bowl and microwave at 50% power until nearly melted, about 3 minutes, stopping to stir every minute so chocolate doesn’t burn. Set aside.
- Cut the butter for the brownie into tablespoons and heat in a small, light colored (i.e., not cast iron) pan over medium low. After it melts, stir frequently. The butter will bubble noisily. Once noisy bubbling subsides or gives way to quieter foaming, carefully watch butter as you stir constantly. Particles in the butter will start to turn golden brown after a few minutes and it will smell nutty. At this point, immediately remove from heat. Pour over the chocolate and stir until will combined and all the chocolate is melted, then set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk both sugars, eggs, and vanilla by hand until well combined. Gradually stir in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture to ensure the warm chocolate doesn’t cook the eggs. Mix in the flour. Fold in the pistachios, then pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until just set (no liquid jiggles when you shake the pan gently). Cool completely (a couple hours) on a wire rack in the pan, then use the foil to lift out the brownie before frosting.
Cream cheese frosting
- Brown 6 tablespoons butter as described above and remove to a small bowl. Cool in the fridge at least 10 minutes, but don’t let it solidify. Pulse cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar, and cooled butter in a food processor until creamy and spreadable, about 10 to 20 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides once. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the cooled brownie (to pick up loose crumbs) and freeze for 10 minutes. Spread remaining frosting (or desired amount) over the first layer, then sprinkle with extra chopped pistachios (or sprinkles!). Serve immediately or keep refrigerated up to a few days. Extra frosting keeps in the refrigerator for about a week.
The eggs don’t need to be exactly room temperature, but they shouldn’t be cold straight from the fridge. 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature is fine.
Chocolate: I’ve used all types listed in variations of this recipe, but this time, I used Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate pound plus bar with great results. You can use chocolate chips, but they often contain stabilizers or additives that are, at least, unnecessary and, at worst, will affect the texture and taste of the brownie.
If you plan to make the brownie and icing back to back, you can brown the full quantity of butter all at once. Add two extra tablespoons butter, then measure out the quantity needed after browning, making sure to get some of the browned solids in the butter for each use. That said, I find it simpler to just brown the butter in two separate batches for this recipe, for measurement and timing purposes.
Adapted from my favorite brownie recipe out of Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way. Cream cheese icing recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking’s cream cheese frosting.
- Prep Time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: Chocolate