We Tried Christina Tosi’s Hot Chocolate Brownies
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Learn how to make hot chocolate brownies just like Christina Tosi, queen of sweet treats and nostalgic flavors.
This time of year, there’s nothing I crave more than coming in from the cold and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. The only thing that could top this feeling of coziness and joy would be enjoying a mugful alongside a tempting treat. If you’re going to get comfy-cozy, you better do it right, after all!
And the latest recipe to catch my attention to make chilly days a bit more bearable: Christina Tosi’s hot chocolate brownies.
All About These Hot Chocolate Brownies
Christina Tosi, the founder of Milk Bar and James Beard Award-winning chef, is the queen of comfort food-with-a-twist sweets. She takes favorite flavors and turns them into treats that have millions’ mouths watering, like her popular cereal milk ice cream, confetti-studded birthday cake and—my personal favorite—cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.
Of course, Christina is always thinking of new flavor combinations which is why she just released her latest creation: hot cocoa bars. She describes these as “a cup of hot cocoa meets a pan of brownies.”
As a Tosi superfan and someone that makes hot cocoa nearly every wintry afternoon, I obviously had to stir up a batch.
How to Make Hot Chocolate Bars
LISA KAMINSKI/TASTE OF HOME
Christina says that baking, especially this recipe, is “boxing out of life and boxing in joy.” For a short time, forget your troubles and just focus on this one-bowl wonder of a dessert.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons malted milk powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup mini marshmallows + 1/3 cup chocolate chips to top
What You’ll Need
- Large mixing bowl: No stand mixer is needed for this recipe. Pull out a large mixing bowl instead; make sure it’s microwave-safe for melting the chocolate in this recipe.
- Malted milk powder: Do not skip this one! Malted milk powder gives these bars a certain satisfying something.
- 8×8 baking pan: This recipe makes an 8×8 pan of bars, so make sure you’ve got one on hand. And if you want to double the recipe, Christina says a double batch can go right into your trusty 13×9 dish.
Step 1: Melt the chocolate and butter
Start these hot chocolate brownies by melting together the butter and chocolate chips. The simplest way is zapping the ingredients together in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second spurts.
If you don’t have a microwave, place your heat-safe bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth.
As for the chocolate, Christina says that “semisweet is a nice middle ground,” but feel free to use whatever type of chips you like best (or whatever is in your pantry).
Step 2: Stir in the sugar and more
Next, stir the sugar into the chocolate mix. The warmth of the chocolate and butter should help the sugar dissolve a bit. It won’t be silky smooth just yet, but you will notice the mix getting there.
Then add in your eggs and vanilla extract and give the mix a good whisking. Christina uses Spice Islands vanilla extract at home, and she’s in good company—it’s one of our Test Kitchen’s favorite brands of vanilla, too!
Christina’s Tip: While the primary flavor of these bars is chocolate, Christina says do not underestimate the power of vanilla: “To get great chocolate flavor, you need great vanilla extract.”
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients
With your mixture nice and smooth, ditch the whisk and break out your favorite spatula or wooden spoon. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and malted milk powder and gently stir until combined. Don’t overmix or you’ll end up with tough brownies.
Christina’s Tip: Malted milk powder isn’t a typical brownie ingredient, but Christina says it makes all the difference in this recipe. She explains that this ingredient adds depth of flavor and gives the brownies a chewy, delicious quality that people love but can’t quite put their fingers on. Who doesn’t love a secret ingredient?
Step 4: Top and bake
Now for the finishing touches. Add the batter to a greased 8×8 pan, then sprinkle mini marshmallows and a handful of chocolate chips over the top.
Bake at 325ºF for 35 to 40 minutes. They’re going to look tempting coming out of the oven, but Christina recommends letting them cool all the way before slicing into squares.
How Do They Taste?
LISA KAMINSKI/TASTE OF HOME
These brownies were quick to put together, but waiting on them to bake and then cool felt like an eternity to me! I love marshmallows, I love chocolate and I love an extra chewy brownie. But I wanted to follow Christina’s advice, so I let them cool on the kitchen table while I cleaned up.
But let me tell you, the wait was worth it. These brownies are extra chewy and incredibly rich. And that bit of malt powder stirred into the recipe really did make a major difference. It added an extra level of flavor without being overpowering. The malted milk powder, the vanilla and the marshmallows are like three awesome backup singers for the star of the show: chocolate.
And you know what? These are so good, I may just make this my go-to brownie recipe during the rest of the year (just need to skip the marshmallows and stir in a few chocolate chips).
How to Customize Your Hot Cocoa Bars
While these brownies looked pretty darn good on their own, I had to ask Christina how she’d take them to the next level if she was craving something a little bit more. Of course, this pastry queen had lots of ideas!
- Toast the marshmallows: For “big marshmallow energy,” as Christina puts it, toast the marshmallows. You can do this by popping them under the broiler for 30 seconds. You can also break out a handy kitchen torch if you’ve got one.
- Peppermint: Crush up peppermint candies or candy canes and fold them into the batter and sprinkle on top along with the marshmallows.
- Caramel: If you’re the type to stir a bit of caramel into your mug of cocoa, you can do the same with these bars. Just drizzle a bit of caramel topping over the bars while they’re still warm.
- Pretzels: Like salty with your sweet? Crush up some pretzels and scatter them over the top of these brownies before baking.