Cakey Fans Beware: These Brownies are Practically Fudge

September 13, 2015

Posie Harwood, who finds the best back-of-the-box recipes in the grocery store, is taking one-bowl brownies to new (excessively frosted) heights.

I've sampled a lot of brownies in my life. Personally, if I were to get philosophical about it, I like a brownie that teeters on the edge of fudge-like. It should just toe the line: A slight cakiness should keep it from being too dense. Rich but not too rich, it should freeze beautifully and make you the star of all potlucks and picnics and birthday parties, forever and always. 

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This one-bowl recipe fits the bill exactly. It comes from the back of the Baker's Chocolate box, and it could not be easier. You melt butter and chocolate together, then whisk in the rest of your ingredients. That's it! You don't have to temper chocolate, or clean multiple bowls, or worry about technique.

The original recipe calls for nuts. I didn't add them because, to be perfectly honest with you, I didn't have any in my kitchen. If you're into that sort of thing, you can toss a cup of chopped nuts into the batter.

More: Are you a cakey or a fudgy person?

If you want to get really wild, you could add chocolate chips. Should you? Probably not. We are going to add some frosting soon, and chocolate chips might push us into the territory of true excess. But if you think you can handle it, I trust you. Go forth and douse yourself with chocolate.

The frosting is delicious. First, you melt butter, buttermilk, and cocoa powder in a saucepan. The buttermilk gives a subtle tang that helps to balance the intense sweetness of the frosting. Then, you transfer the warm mixture to a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) and beat it with powdered sugar.

If the frosting gives you any trouble, here's some advice I gleaned from own mistakes: If your frosting is very thin and liquidy, try sticking the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill it. Colder frosting will whip into a lighter, fluffier texture. If it still looks too thin, add more confectioners' sugar. I suggest starting with 2 cups, but you might need up to 4 cups.

Chocolate Buttermilk-Frosted Brownies

Adapted from Baker's Chocolate

Makes one 9- by 13-inch pan

For the brownies:

ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter
cups sugar
teaspoon vanilla extract
cup flour

For the frosting:

1/4 cup butter
tablespoons buttermilk
tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Do you have a favorite back of the box recipe, or have you heard about a great one? Leave any suggestions in the comments, and I'll try them out and share them here!

Photos by Posie Harwood

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Caroline M. February 11, 2022
I don't want to be a killjoy but when I see this amount of sugar in a recipe, I recoil! Is it absolutely necessary to use 2 cups? Has anyone tried reducing the amount? I do love brownies. . . . .
Melinda W. November 26, 2017
Very similar to my go-to recipe from "The Joy of Cooking." It is called Brownies Cockaigne and uses 1/2 cup butter and 4 eggs. Everyone loves 'em!
Jennifer S. November 26, 2017
Any particular reason you removed vanilla from the original recipe? Also, can you discuss changes in Bakers Chocolate in the last couple of years? I’ve noticed a real change in my brownies that only corrected when known high quality chocolate was substituted. The texture wasn’t good anymore, and the batter was smooth and rubbery going into the pan, which was a change. Fresher eggs helped, but not enough. Sad, because Bakers used to work just fine, and now it seems like it’s not.
Steven W. November 25, 2017
Really, we've made these due years, probably ever since it appeared on the Bakers box. They really, really don't need frosting. Really.
Mar P. September 22, 2016
Is this even legal…?
Teri B. June 8, 2016
This is my go to brownie recipe too. I add a bit of instant expresso to the melted butter and chocolate.

My "back of the bottle" recipe is Nellie and Joe's key lime pie. It is absurdly easy. I make my own graham cracker crust in a springform pan.
petalpusher July 22, 2016
Totally agree with Nellie and Joe's! For a flavor treat, switch to ginger snaps instead of graham cracker crust.
lacrema September 15, 2015
This has been my go-to brownie recipe for years, and it is hands down my favorite. I usually do the cheesecake/jam swirl route, sometimes throwing in chocolate chips. They're amazing!
Jenifer K. September 14, 2015
I have some in the oven now ! No nuts, but used the peanut butter swirl variation. Prepare brownies as directed reserving 1 TBS of the butter and 2 TBS of the sugar. Spread brownie batter in prepared pan.Mix reserved ingredients with 2/3 cup of peanut butter. Spoon peanut butter mixture over brownie batter and swirl with a knife to marbelize. Bake as directed.
Tammy W. September 14, 2015
The Duncan Hines lemon pound cake recipe is always a crowd pleaser! My tip is to pour the lemon glaze over it warm just before you serve it. And I usually go heavy on the zest. It rivals Mother Myricks Lemon Lulu of Manchester, Vt for a fraction of the price!!
Erica September 14, 2015
I'm also wondering about almond flour instead of AP. Coconut flour soaks up so much liquid it might not work…but almond is often used in many flour-less chocolate cakes, so I'm wondering if it can be used here. Any ideas?
Posie (. September 14, 2015
Disclaimer first, I haven't tried this myself BUT I think almond flour would work. I would suggest reducing the butter to 1/2 cup and adding in 2 or 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder as well. Be aware that they will likely be more dense than brownies made with AP flour and you may need to adjust baking time. As for coconut flour, agree that you'll need to compensate for the liquid being absorbed. You will likely need to add at least one extra egg. I will experiment with a gluten-free version and report back!
Suzy September 13, 2015
Looks amazing! Has anyone tried subbing almond or coconut flour for a gluten-free version?
foofaraw September 13, 2015
What do you think of using powdered buttermilk instead of regular buttermilk to reduce the need of 4c powdered sugar and still getting that tang?
Bob Y. September 13, 2015
Can the frosting for the brownies be made with regular milk rather than buttermilk which I don't stock.
Posie (. September 13, 2015
Yep, definitely, although if you have vinegar or lemon juice I'd recommend just making your own buttermilk quickly (stir 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar into 1 cup of milk and let stand for a few minutes before using).
Bella B. September 13, 2015
They look mouthwatering!

xoxoBella |