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Sincere Acts of Sweetness

February 23, 2010

Big Birthday Brownie

I made this asymmetrical-on-purpose brownie birthday treat to celebrate little Aliana's 5th birthday. To help me get calibrated to the way she made her hearts, Aliana drew me several hearts just to help me get inspired. Big colorful, curvy, bubbly, slanted hearts filled several pages of paper and some even had smiley faces on them! Kristina, Aliana's proud mom, told me that sometimes Aliana liked to add a little bumpy border to the outside of hearts too.

I came up with a simple plan of creating one big brownie for the kids to devour at Aliana's birthday party - no forks required! Along with the brownie, Kristina asked that we have a few cake pops too which I made using the left over brownie that I carved to create the cake. My original plan was to insert the brownie pops into the bumpy cereal treat border, but unfortunately they were much too soft to keep hold of them. At the last minute I used the outside edge of the brownie to secure the pops and it did a pretty good job of holding onto them, although several drooped a bit.
Speaking of cereal treats, I used Trix cereal instead of Rice Krispies as something different. I wanted something that would look pretty from the get go; I didn't want to worry about covering the cereal treas with fondant and Trix is perfectly colorful. It was so successful, that Kristina swears that for now on, all cereal treats in her family will be made out of Trix. I bet Fruity Pebbles would have been a good choice too.I now have a new found respect for anyone that's good at writing words with frosting. I suppose this gets easier with more and more practice but it was a lot harder than I expected. I ended up going back over the letters with a dampened paintbrush to clean them up a bit. It was a lot of fun to make this cake and I'm just thrilled with the way it came out. It just makes me happy looking at it!

Big Birthday Brownie 
adapted by Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped*
12 ounces of good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped*
3 cups sugar
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 14-inch round baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on 2 sides. Set aside.

Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water; stir frequently until chocolate and butter are melted, about 7-15minutes. Be careful not to let any moisture collect in the bowl as it will keep the chocolate from melting as it should. Remove bowl from heat; let cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Whisk in eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Gently fold in flour and salt.

Pour batter into prepared pan, shake the pan to ensure that the batter is in the pan evenly and smooth top with an offset spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, remove it from the oven and wap it again the counter hard! You *want* it to fall and open up any hot spots that may have been trapped. Continue baking another 10-20 minutes, until the brownie tester inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool .

Run a knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan. Using parchment, lift brownies out of pan and onto the rack. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into the desired shape. Brownies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

* Try to avoid brands like Hersheys, Nestle's, or Baker's. These brands have a lot of sugars, water, binders, and frankly just don't taste that great. Trader Joe's makes an excellent bittersweet and dark chocolate at a around $5 a pound. I also really love Guitard and Scharffen Berger but they can be pretty pricey. Also, avoid using chocolate chips if you can as they have binders in the chips and make it a little harder to melt them.

Yield: Enough brownie to make a very large heart and 26 brownie pops. Enough to feed about 24 kids and their parents!
Would I Make This Again? Yes! This recipe was really good and a great one when you are feeding little kids and you don't want to blow the kids away with an overly intense chocolate flavor.


  1. Very cute idea! I love the border!

  2. Absolutely love this - this is great! I'm doing the cake and desserts for a communion - and I might steal this idea but do a cross.

  3. BE-U-TI-FUL!!!! Thanks for sharing your great work!!

  4. Very cute! I bet little Aliana was just tickled.

  5. I love the cake, the top is so smooth and the colors are great!
    and of course the pops are adorable.

  6. Hey Julia! I've missed you!!! I love the scalloped edge on the heart...how adorable!

    And, you did great piping those words...they look perfect from here!

  7. Hey, Julia! Always happy to see a post!

    I think that's pretty funny that you mentioned how difficult you found the lettering. From the get go my thoughts were, very pretty and what a terrific job she did on the writing! :) I really like the look of your sprinkled covered cake (brownie?) pops.

    What did Aliana say when she saw the heart cake? Did you get two big thumbs up?

  8. Do you have any tips on the brownie pops? Do you let them dry a little before adding the sprinkles? When I've added sprinkles they almost seem too heavy and run down a bit.

    So cute all around though!

  9. Do you need to add anything to the baked brownies in order to make them into pops like you do with the cake pops (adding cream cheese frosting)?

  10. The cake is the cutest!

  11. OMG this is ridiculously cute!! That had to be a happy 5-year-old! :)

  12. That is GREAT! I know my 5 year-old would be thrilled if she saw that on her B-day (actually, she will be 6 on her next one). Maybe I'll make one for myself too :)

  13. Hi I love your blog. There is an award for you on my site :)


  14. Wow, this looks awesome!

  15. You are a birthday artist!


  16. I love this!! It is making me smile too!!! The bday girl must have been thrilled! I think your writing looks perfect! I find it sooo difficult - but I have terrible penmanship.

  17. Yum, you have twisted my arm...I need to make those Pops asap!


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