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Espresso-Sour Cream Brownies

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Espresso-Sour Cream Brownies

Yield: 24 to 32 brownies

Tips: The line between brownies and cake becomes a bit blurred with these, which are cake-style brownies. As happens sometimes, I had never had any of this type of brownie that I liked before I developed my own; they were always too dry and wimpy in the chocolate department. These have plenty of chocolate flavor and some sour cream to help keep them moist; there's even some instant espresso powder thrown in for an extra depth of taste. Because these are deeply-flavored and not too sweet, they'd probably be more appreciated by adults.

I have tried these with both regular unsweetened cocoa powder and Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder. Both work in this recipe, but the Dutch process cocoa turns out brownies so superior in color and flavor that it is all I'll use. The (optional) frosting does not freeze, though the brownies themselves will. (If you don't want to frost the brownies, you can sift a bit of confectioners' sugar over the top of the cut portions just before serving, or serve them with a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt.) The brownies and frosting are easy to make, and the frosted panful will sit happily in the fridge for up to five or six days, if tightly covered. Serve these with plates and forks, or just let people eat them out of hand.



  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, sliced
  • 3/4 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened, Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 5 eggs, graded "large"
  • 2-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla


  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • (Optional garnish: Shaved or grated semisweet chocolate)

For Brownies:
Line a 13 by 9 inch pan (at least 1-1/2 inches deep) with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small, heavy saucepan over low heat, melt butter, stirring often. Remove from heat; set aside to cool slightly. Measure sour cream and allow to stand at room temperature.

Into medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, instant espresso powder, and vanilla. By hand, beat until well-mixed, about 1 minute. Add melted butter, which may still be slightly warm, and beat in. Stir in about half of sifted dry ingredients just until blended. Stir in sour cream just until combined. With rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl; add remaining sifted dry ingredients and blend just until mixed in.

Turn batter into prepared pan. Spread level, then run batter slightly higher in corners and along edges with back of spoon.

Bake in preheated oven 22 to 25 minutes, turning from back to front about halfway during baking. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted near center emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake! Allow to cool completely on rack before frosting, if desired.

When frosted, store brownies in refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to six days. Allow cut portions to come to room temperature, loosely covered, before serving.

For Frosting:
In medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese and softened butter. With sturdy, hand-held mixer, beat at a low speed until well-mixed and smooth. Gradually add sifted confectioners' sugar, beating at medium speed only until incorporated after each addition. Do not overbeat. Add vanilla after about half of confectioners' sugar has been added. Scrape bowl and beater(s) frequently with rubber spatula during mixing. This will be a soft frosting. Spread over entire top surface of cooled brownies. If desired, garnish with shaved or grated semisweet chocolate.

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