The large amount of frosting on these brownies represents the large amount of love I have for you! It constantly makes my day that people actually read my blog, and I'm even more thrilled when I get a comment or get to connect with you on FB, Twitter, or IG. You are the best, and that is why I made you the best brownies.
I've been wanting to make frosted brownies for a while now. They just seem fabulously over the top--because once you've baked a rich and fudgy brownie, you totally need a big pile of buttercream on top, right? (Hint: the answer is yes!)
The brownie part of this recipes is dairy-free, based on these genius brownies from Elana's Pantry. You can make them with almond butter or sunbutter (or a mix if you have a bit of each, which is what I had), and they would probably work with any nut butter if you've got something else on hand. The frosting is a classic buttercream, but if you're looking for a dairy-free frosting, this one looks good.
Powdered sugar often contains cornstarch, which I try to avoid. If you don't like cornstarch, either, look for a brand that uses tapioca starch instead. I buy 365 Organic Powdered Sugar at Whole Foods, and the only ingredients are organic sugar and organic tapioca starch. Wholesome Sweeteners organic powdered sugar, which is available on Amazon, has the same ingredients.
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's day, and that you make something delicious for someone you love (or better yet, someone you love makes something delicious for you!). Or, just make these brownies for yourself first thing in the morning, like I did, and have two for breakfast. It's okay to be your own valentine, especially when there are frosted brownies involved.
XOXO, Gossip Girl (I mean, me! I just really want to type/say "Gossip Girl" after every single XOXO. Does anyone else miss that show SO much??).
Yield: 16 brownies
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook time: 30 minutes
For the brownies (adapated from Elana's Pantry):
1 cup sunflower seed butter or almond butter*
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
*This recipe should work with any nut butter. Of course, use sunflower seed butter for nut-free brownies.
For the vanilla bean buttercream:
1 stick (1/4 pound or 1/2 cup) butter, softened (use salted butter or add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt if using unsalted)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
1 teaspoon vanilla
Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean**
2 tablespoons cranberry juice (optional)***
**If you don't have a vanilla bean, you can omit it and add another teaspoon of vanilla extract. You won't have gorgeous flecks in your frosting, but it will still be delicious. I recommend buying some, though. They are reasonable in bulk and you can use any leftover vanilla beans to make extract or other desserts.
***I wanted to see if I could use juice to tint my frosting pink. As you can see, it did not really work, but I liked the rich cream color I ended up with. The frosting will not taste like cranberry.
To make the brownies, preheat the oven to 325 and line an 8x8" glass pan with parchment paper or greased tinfoil.
In a medium bowl, beat together the nut or sunflower seed butter, honey, melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Beat in the baking soda and egg until well-combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth the top and help the batter reach all four corners of the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Cool completely in the pan, then remove using the parchment paper.
To make the frosting, cream the softened butter with a fork or mixer until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat until combined (I do this by hand, but a mixer makes it easier). Stir in the vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, and cranberry juice, if using. If the frosting appears too thin, refrigerate it for a little while. If it appears too thick, add a splash of juice or milk until it reaches the desired consistency.
Use a spatula to frost the cooled brownies, then slice into 16 squares and serve.
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