Let’s talk brownies! Do you like them chewy or cake-like? With or without frosting? What about nuts? Walnuts? Macadamia nuts? Pecans? Do you enjoy a thick, rich caramel swirl in the center? Extra chocolate chips? Layered brownies? Blonde Brownies? Brownies with chunks of peanut butter cups with chocolate Rice crispy treats on top? Or, are you a traditionalist who prefers plain brownies with a tall glass of milk and nothing else? If you’re like me, the answer is “Yes!” to all of the above and more!
Last weekend, I had an opportunity to make brownies for a group meeting. With all the delicious choices above, I choose a simple brownie recipe and dressed them up with a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries. I know, I know! I should have gone with the layered brownie bars with chocolate chips and bacon BUT I had these cool new cake push-pop containers I wanted to try, so simple was better!
I started by baking brownies on a jelly roll pan. I did that on purpose so when I cut them, they weren’t too thick for the push-pop holders. This recipe makes a HUGE amount of brownies, so be prepared to share them with your entire neighborhood when you’re done! Not kidding!
When they were cool, I cut them into rounds using a 1/2″ cutter. Then I put a brownie circle into the bottom of each push-pop. After that, I piped on a layer of frosting, then diced fresh strawberries. I only used about 3/4 of a small basket of berries, but you can add more or less to fit your tastes.
The push-pop containers held two layers of brownies, frosting and strawberries perfectly! Plus, they just look so darn CUTE! How could you not love these?
After I made a dozen of these adorable pops for my meeting I still had over half a jelly roll pan full of brownies (my co-workers were happy to share the leftovers!) but if you don’t want that many, feel free to cut the recipe in half!
The vanilla bean cream cheese frosting is simple to make too. It’s just four ingredients!
An 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 whole vanilla beans, split and scraped
Beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth.
Add the butter and continue to beat for at least two minutes or until thoroughly combined.
Split and scrape both vanilla beans and add everything to the bowl. Yes, the pods too. (This way, as you are beating the frosting, the rest of the vanilla bean caviar will get mixed into the frosting.) Beat until well blended and there are little black flecks mixed evenly throughout.
Add the powdered sugar slowly, half cup at a time, so you don’t get a sugar cloud all over your counter (and yourself!)
Stop mixing to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.
After all the sugar is in, continue to beat for at least three to four minutes until the frosting is smooth. Stop the mixer and pull the vanilla pods from the frosting and throw them away.
This will make enough to frost an entire jelly roll pan (with some left over), a two layer 9″ cake or 24 cupcakes.
Enjoy my friends!