It's worth noting that this was before everyone started frowning upon pre-packaged, preservative-filled lunchbox treats. From what I can tell, kids these days have really stepped up their lunchbox game (e.g. elaborate bentos - ?!?). But for my 12-year-old self, organic was a completely foreign concept, and I enjoyed my Little Debbie's in judgment-free bliss.
The Little Debbie dessert that never made the lunchbox first-string was the Cosmic Brownie. I couldn't tell you why my chocoholic self never wanted those, but if those Cosmic Brownies taste anything like this copycat version I was wrong.
Forget cakey brownies. If that's what you're into this isn't the recipe for you. These are fudgy, rich and delicious. It's like brownies and fudge joined up for a fun party (obviously with lots of confetti m&ms) and realized they were meant to be together. I would recommend adding the m&ms after cutting the brownies/ganache so that you can get really smooth lines. A trick for cutting into something like this is to run a knife under hot water for 5-10 second and dry it off before slicing into the dessert. Repeat the process between each long slice. The heat from the knife will help create the smooth line.
Copycat Cosmic Brownies
Recipe from Averie Cooks
Ingredients:For the Brownies
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons coffee or water (coffee leftover from the morning brew is fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder or dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules (make sure it's instant so it dissolves), optional but recommended
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the Ganache
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream
1 cup M&M minis (you can either buy them in small tubes or check out your local grocery store for the larger bags. I like the little ones, but if you can't find them anywhere you can use regular size)
- For the Brownies - Preaheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter, about 90 seconds on high power.
- Add the eggs, sugars, coffee, vanilla, and whisk to combine.
- Add the cocoa powder, instant espresso, and whisk until incorporated, free from lumps, and smooth. It could take a few minutes if your cocoa powder is lumpy.
- Add the flour and stir until it's just incorporated; don't overmix.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until top has just set, isn't jiggly in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few fudgy moist crumbs, but no batter. I baked mine for 26 minutes. Allow brownies to cool completely in pan. While brownies cool, make the ganache.
- For the Ganache - Add chocolate chips to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften chips. They won't be melted, this is okay. Don't stir; set bowl aside.
- Heat cream in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl until it begins to bubble and show signs of just beginning to boiling, about 1 minute on high power.
- Pour cream over chocolate chips and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
- With a whisk, beat mixture until silky, smooth, and combined. If your mixture isn't smoothing out, heat in 15-second bursts in the microwaves until it can be stirred smooth.
- Pour ganache over mostly cooled brownies (after about 30 minutes is fine; they don't have to be completely cooled). Smooth ganache lightly with a spatula or offset knife.
- Evenly sprinkle with M&Ms. Cover pan with a sheet of foil to prevent fridge smells, and place pan in refrigerator until ganache sets up before slicing and serving, at least 2 hours. Do not slice into them until the ganache has set; feel free to make these in advance and store them in the fridge; they get better with time. Brownies will keep airtight for 1 week at room temperature, for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and for up to 6 months in the freezer. I highly recommend storing them in the refrigerator because having a slight chill to brownies this rich and fudgy is almost imperative.