Perfect homemade brownies topped with a whipped strawberry cream cheese frosting and berries. Plus, the secret to a perfectly whipped cream cheese frosting!
From time to time, I get to do a little TV with some wonderful local stations. Sometimes I go to them, sometimes they come over and set up shop in my kitchen, but in all cases, we are making some seriously delicious food. The dishes usually revolve around an upcoming holiday. Can you guess which holiday these brownies were created for? Nope. It’s not spring brunch. Oh, that’s not a holiday? Hmm. Okay, guess again. Bingo — Valentine’s day. Was it the chocolate and strawberries that gave it away?
When I’m choosing a recipe for a televised demo, it has to meet a certain list of criteria: it must be positively scrumptious (duh), needs to be festive, fun to look at, and simple. Unfortunately, I learned that last one the hard way. Lugging boxes and boxes of kitchen equipment into a studio isn’t exactly a cake walk. Nope. This time I’ll be walking in with homemade brownies. Actually, this time, they’re coming to me, but you know what I mean.
When it comes to easy desserts, homemade brownies are pretty much my go-to, and they meet my number one on the TV demo checklist — they’re simple. Added bonus, chocolate plays well with others, and you can dress brownies up in so many different ways. Being that this demo was going to be for Valentine’s day, I had every intention of incorporating strawberries into the recipe. And from there, it all fell into place: A homemade brownie, topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting infused with strawberry preserves and topped with not one, but three berries. Scrumptious, festive, and if you don’t mind me saying so, pret-ty darn easy on the eyes as well.
HOW TO MAKE BROWNIES FROM SCRATCH
If you are a novice baker, brownies are a great place to start. To make brownies from scratch, you first mix your dry ingredients together. Dry ingredients usually found in brownies are all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Did you notice sugar wasn’t in that dry ingredient mix? Nope! It’s missing. And, for good reason — sugar is actually a wet ingredient.
When sugar reaches a high enough temperature, it melts, a.k.a. liquifies, therefore making it a wet ingredient. Also in the “wet ingredient” category is melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. The wet ingredients are whisked together, and it’s almost batter time.
The dry ingredients join the wet, and all you need to make a perfect brownie batter come together is a good ol’ fashioned wooden spoon. The batter goes into a square baking dish, the dish goes into the oven, and freshly baked brownies will be calling your name in less than 30 minutes.
HOW TO MAKE PERFECT CREAM CHEESE ICING
When it comes to making icing of any kind, it’s all about the temperature…well, temperature and ingredients…and maybe quantity as well. Officially — all three are important, but first, let’s talk temperature.
For a perfectly luscious and smooth cream cheese icing, both your butter and your cream cheese need to be at room temperature. If these ingredients are too cold, the sugar will not disperse properly. If the butter and/or cream cheese are too warm, you’d end up with a frosting that, quite literally, falls flat.
Cream cheese will typically come to room temperature within a couple of hours on the countertop. Butter, however, takes a bit longer. To bring butter to room temperature, I put it on the counter the night before I intend to do my baking, and it keeps just fine. In fact, butter can keep for days at room temperature. However, if you forget to put out your ingredients or your an impulsive brownie eater and you’ve just got to have them right now (which in that case, we are one-in-the-same), place on a microwave safe dish and microwave at 10-second intervals, turning over after each interval. But, be sure to remove as soon as it starts to feel like it’s hit room temperature.
The cream cheese and butter are mixed together until they have a whipped appearance (about 3 minutes), then the confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, vanilla extract, and salt go in. But that’s not all! In the case of these brownies, there is just one more ingredient that sets this cream cheese icing apart from the rest, and that ingredient is strawberry preserves. I gotta tell ya, the strawberry preserves really tie it all together, here people.
And while the strawberry cream cheese frosting in combination with a rich, chocolatey brownie does indeed scream Valentine’s day, I think we can all agree here that this lovely lady should be welcomed on more days of the year than just one. Spring brunch (can you tell I have an obsession?), summertime treats, Easter Sunday…or maybe they should be welcomed every Sunday?
On whichever occasion you choose to enjoy your brownies, whatever day of the week you should make them, please enjoy.
Perfect homemade brownies topped with a whipped strawberry cream cheese frosting and berries.
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon strawberry preserves
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup mixed berries (rinsed and dried) such as sliced strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries
Add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, use a mixing bowl and handheld mixer. Mix on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has a whipped appearance.
Add the sugar, strawberry preserves, vanilla and salt, and mix once more until combined. Set aside until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350° and have ready a greased, 8"x8" square baking dish lined with parchment paper.
Melt the butter in a microwave-safe pitcher or bowl, and set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk and set aside.
Add the butter to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and using a handheld mixer on medium speed (or a sturdy wooden spoon) to mix until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, mix until just combined. Add the batter to baking dish, spread to the edges and smooth over the top. Bake for 26-28 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to completely cool.
Once the brownies have cooled, spread on the icing using an offset spatula, and garnish with the berries. Cut into nine squares, serve, and enjoy.
You will need to allow 25-30 minutes for your brownies to completely cool before icing them.
5 MORE FROSTED DESSERTS TO TRY
- Royally Iced Sugar Cookies are beautiful and perfect for gifting as they can be stacked and easily transported. This recipe makes easy work of making royal icing, along with detailed tips for icing your cookies.
- Painted Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing are fun and easy to decorate. Pull out the paint brushes and get creative with these sweet (and beautiful) treats!
- Egg Hunt Blondies are an adorable Easter dessert featuring a homemade buttercream frosting made to look like Easter grass and M&M candies made to look like eggs for an egg hunt!
- Christmas Sugar Cookies with Sugar Cookie Icing are as beautiful as they are tasty! Simple, homemade sugar cookies with an easy buttercream frosting for cookies. Plus, how to ice tree and wreath cookies to look like grass.
- Halloween Sugar Cookies will show the secret to making your cookies look as though they are suspended in air! Yes, hanging sugar cookies is a real thing, and they’re easier to make than you think! This can be applied to bats and ghosts for Halloween, as well as ornament, shaped sugar cookies with Christmas.