Food

Um, Can You Even Handle These Brownies?

Brownies with Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting

To finish our month of signature family recipes, food writer Posie Brien is sharing the brownies she grew up snacking on. “My mom would make brownies year-round, but especially during the holidays,” says Posie. “She’d cut them into small squares and always keep a bag of them stashed in our freezer. Frozen brownies are seriously one of the best things.” Here’s how it’s done…

Brownies with Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting
By Posie Brien of 600 Acres
Makes one 9×13-inch pan

You’ll need:

For the brownies:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour

For the frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tbsp buttermilk
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and grease with butter or baking spray.

In a large glass bowl, microwave the chocolate and the butter on high, checking and stirring after each 30-second interval, until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted. Add the sugar and mix well. Add in the eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. Add the flour and mix until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes. The top should be crackly and a tester inserted into the middle should come out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.

To make the frosting, add the butter, buttermilk and cocoa powder to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking until smooth, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a stand mixer or large bowl and add in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat the mixture until fluffy and thick. You might need less or more sugar, depending. Start with 2 cups, and add more if the frosting looks too thin. If it isn’t getting fluffy, try refrigerating the frosting for 20 minutes, and then beating it again.

Spread the frosting over the brownies. Let the frosting set, then slice and serve.

brownies with buttermilk frosting

Thank you so much, Posie!

P.S. More recipes, including four-ingredient peanut butter fudge and one-ingredient ice cream.

  1. I’m always on the lookout for a new and improved brownie recipe. Yes, I agree that brownies don’t *normally* have frosting, but it shouldn’t be written in stone. It should be as allowed as brownies with whipped cream, brownies and vanilla ice cream, brownies drizzled with dulce de leche… I’m making myself really hungry! :-)

  2. Your recipe looks absolutely amazing! Got to add this to my reading list.Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  3. Linnea says...

    I just made these brownies. I love frosted brownies so wouldn’t dream of leaving it off. I only used 2 cups of powdered sugar due to the thickness of the frosting. I refrigerated it as suggested to make it fluffier. That helped with fluffiness but mine don’t look near as creamy as yours. Thoughts?
    We will be diving into them after dinner tonight!
    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  4. Angela says...

    Love trying the recipes CoJ posts! Julia Turshen’s chicken/sweet potato/dates is on repeat at our house! This recipe was no exception. Be warned – it is sweet!! But perfect for the holidays. The directions in the recipe are spot on which I really appreciate! And it’s easy to make! Thanks for sharing! Excited to give some of these treats to my neighbors!

  5. Sarah says...

    Do you have any advice for freezing these with the frosting on? Like, should I freeze them on a tray for an hour or so, before moving them into a container? …Or will that make them dry? Thanks!

    • Posie says...

      Yes, I freeze frosted ones on the tray just enough to set the frosting (usually even 30 minutes will be plenty) and then put wax paper between the layers in the container. So good!

  6. Louise says...

    I’m making these for Christmas Eve.

  7. j says...

    Hi! These look amazing and I am sure they are delicious! Only wanted to say that my fave brownies are a smitten kitchen recipe that calls for adding salt. I really think salt makes a difference. Some deserts shine with just a pinch. :)

    • Sasha L says...

      My recipe that is almost the same adds salt as well. And chocolate chips. Both make them even better I think.

    • Louise says...

      I add salt to almost every dessert recipe, whether it calls for it or not.

    • J says...

      Yes I add chocolate chips too!

  8. Jenn says...

    This is super similar to my in-laws beloved brownie recipe. Some of us disagree about frosting (and walnuts) but we are all so into frosting that each family is getting a great baking cocoa for Christmas this year. Can’t wait to eat up some sweets so I can get to work on brownies!

  9. Sarah says...

    This is a silly question, but I was wondering why the article titles change throughout the day? I think this article had a different title a few moments ago.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, we just update them to make them better sometimes! when we first put it up, the title was straightforward and to the point: “Chocolate Brownies With Buttermilk Frosting.”

      but the brownie photo looked so enticing and tempting at the top of the post that we wanted to switch it up for something a little more attention-grabbing:) so franny and i did a quick brainstorm at our desks: “These Brownies Are Not for the Faint of Heart.” “Brownies for Chocolate Lovers (All of Us?)” “The Chocolate-iest Brownies in Brownie History.” we got a little punchy toward the end: The Browniest Brownies That Ever Browned”? and finally we chose the one that’s up there right now:)

      basically, we always want to make sure the title is immediately clear and understandable (you NEVER want to make people feel confused while navigating the web, it’s the worst feeling and people will immediately click away) but voice-y and conversational (we want CoJ to always feel like an email from a friend, or a conversation you’re having with friends:) and speaking directly to the reader (not in magazine-speak, like “These Drool-Worthy Brownies Will Be the Star of Your Holiday” or something like that, which isn’t how people actually talk to each other).

      anyway haha kind of a long answer, but hope that makes sense! :)

    • agnes says...

      Loved your answer Joanna! I can imagine your team even tasting the brownies and chosing the titles with every bite!

    • Lena says...

      Loved reading this answer, Jo!

    • Nina says...

      I love this answer. I do marketing and totally change titles after posting them (we all see tweaks we can make on copy and content after its posted, right?). I had someone arguing with me about this yesterday about just what you said. In a group someone posted an article and asked for constructive criticism. the title and body contradicted so it was totally confusing. THREE of us said “I’m confused by this” and this other person was telling me I shouldn’t pay attention to the words in the article just the title. major eye roll. I finally just blocked them. I figured oh well now they’ve lost every customer they wanted to attract…but you go…just tell people yay for what you’ve just written.

    • Rachel M. says...

      Hahahaha the browniest brownies that ever browned!! Love how honest and hilarious that title is hahaha

  10. Abesha1 says...

    Brownies should never be frosted… I shudder to think.
    Even that picture gives me the heebie-jeebies!

    • Jane says...

      EXACTLY. Frosting is for cakes or cupcakes. The occasional cookie, for decorating. But brownies? It feels like you’re just adding calories and sacrificing the pure fudginess of brownies themselves.

    • Anonymous don’t frost the brownies says...

      I am SO with you on that!

    • Kristie says...

      I tend to agree – the crackliness gets lost under the gooey ness! BUT! I recently made dark chocolate & peanut butter ganache and lathered it on top a brownie… it was heaven.

    • Maria says...

      Yes, and three tablespoons of buttermilk. Who on earth would even have that?

  11. courtney says...

    Amateur baker here–can I make this frosting without an electric mixer, just using a spoon to mix?

    • Lisa LaMunyon says...

      It will be a lot of work (strong arms) but yes if you beat it well it will be great!

    • Franny Eremin says...

      Hi Courtney! Here’s what Posie said:

      “You COULD make the frosting by hand but I would recommend a mixer as you really need to beat it a lot to get volume and make it fluffy.”

      Hope that helps xo

    • Amy P says...

      Not sure if you have a food processor, but I’m converted! In fact I just made a half batch of frosting with my electric mixer, got frustrated, and made a second half batch in the food processor after remembering that trick. Miles better (it was a buttercream style)! Threw in the first half to combine and presto; smooth, light, soft, spreadable frosting. Deb at Smitten Kitchen gave me the idea!

  12. Amanda says...

    I. Can’t. Even. Salivating at my work desk.

    Hm, unsalted butter or salted butter for the mix and frosting? I would imagine unsalted…but wanted to check before I run home to make these babies. :)

    • Franny Eremin says...

      Hi Amanda! Posie said to use unsalted butter for both. Updating the recipe now. :) xo

  13. Lora says...

    Once I froze our extra brownies thinking it would slow down the consumption process but I was a fool. A happy fool. Frozen brownies are delicious.

  14. Caroline says...

    I’m not into sugar cookies, and we haven’t done any cookie decorating yet this season, despite having two big shakers of Christmas sprinkles ready to go. I was just thinking of doing brownies in mini muffin tins with frosting to decorate. I was going to go with white frosting, but this may have just changed my mind.

  15. denise says...

    Yes, I can handle them! I could handle more than one of them. And I’m going to bring these to a New year’s eve party. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. i love the coffee idea from above!!

  17. Anna says...

    Is Stella still writing for Cup of Jo? Miss her posts!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      after 3.5 wonderful years at cup of jo, our beloved stella moved to new york magazine to be a photo editor. we miss her every day, but are also so proud of her! i’ll be writing more about her move tomorrow in my year-end round-up post :) thanks for asking xoxo

  18. This has chocolate coma written all over it.

  19. Katie says...

    Um, I can’t even handle the picture of the brownies!

  20. Sarah Christine says...

    Holy…….!!!!!!!!!

  21. LeighTX says...

    Might I suggest adding a little cold coffee to the frosting? It gives it a fantastic mocha flavor and you WILL be invited back to whomever’s home you brought them. :)

    • Posie says...

      Yes! Such a great idea — or if you want to just amp up the chocolate flavor without too much coffee flavor, I always add a pinch of espresso powder to my chocolate recipes. xo.

  22. Carrie says...

    I honestly can’t even look at this photo. Makes me want to CUT LOOSE on some chocolate

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  23. k. says...

    Posie is the best! I can’t wait to try these–and may i recommend that every one pop over to her website and make the cheddar biscuits this weekend? you are welcome in advance.

    Thanks Posie/COJ.

    xx