Baking is one of my favorite hobbies, and my wife says these brownies topped with a cream cheese layer are outstanding. When you really want to impress, drizzle them with caramel sauce and sprinkle on chocolate curls. —Lyle Borcherding, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
- 1 cup butter, cubed
- 3/4 cup baking cocoa
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1-1/2 cups cold 2% milk, divided
- 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1-1/2 cups whipped topping
- Caramel ice cream topping and chocolate curls, optional
- In a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in cocoa until smooth. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 1 minute. Gradually add flour and salt. Stir in cocoa mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and, if desired, nuts.
- Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup milk until smooth. Add pudding mix and remaining milk; beat for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in extract; fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until set.
- Just before serving, drizzle with caramel topping and garnish with chocolate curls if desired. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.
Originally published as Snowcapped Brownies in Country Woman Christmas Annual 2009, p57
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