So remember how just a few days ago, I was like, “We’re fancy people! We deserve classy desserts and gold-plated cutlery and our own butlers and small fluffy dogs wearing sweaters!” and then I said a lot of foolish things about elevating Easter desserts beyond just colorful kid’s stuff? Yeah, I don’t know what I was talking about either.
Because colorful kid’s stuff is kind of the best. Looking at these, my inner six-year old is freaking out right now. She simultaneously wants to scarf down a double-decker brownie sandwich, and pick all those pastel eggs off the top and pop them into her mouth at once. She probably also wants to be a ballerina, because: six.
Anyhow, I’m making an abrupt about-face from the Faberge egg cookies and steering this car in a totally new direction. Whitman, multitudes, blah blah, you know the drill. Because these over-the-top brownies could not be more different if they tried. I mean, they basically look like a unicorn threw up on them. (Umm…in a good way? I hope?)
If you’re on the Instagram, you might be familiar with Katherine Sabbath, who makes amazing colorful cakes topped with a crazy assortment of candies, meringues, shards of bark, and who knows what else. There’s probably pixie dust and real live fairies thrown in there too. I love her work but never intended to copy her style, just because it’s so unique and she does it so well.
However, after I started putting the pastel eggs on top of the brownies, I decided I wanted to add some springtime sprinkles too. And those looked a little lonely, so I tossed on some sugar pearls. By the time I was pitching Sixlets at the top of the brownies, I realized there was no way this wasn’t a Katherine Sabbath rip-off, so I decided to go whole hog and add some swirled chocolate bark cut-outs for good measure. Because too much of a good thing is wonderful.
I totally expect that these are not everyone’s style. To be honest, they’re not my usual style either, but that’s what makes them fun. Especially for a springtime holiday, like Easter, it’s good to bring some brightness into our lives. But if it’s all a little much for you, of course you can skip some or all of the toppings and just concentrate on the malted chocolate goodness of the brownies and frosting.
These brownies are based on some of my favorite fudgy brownies, so they’re moist and dense with a strong chocolate flavor that’s not too sweet. I added some chocolate malted milk powder to the batter, as well as big handfuls of malted milk Easter eggs. (Quick note about this: I used Brach’s brand, which are quite large and have a malted milk center, a layer of chocolate, and a candy shell. When they were baked, they developed a crunchy toffee texture and flavor that was really nice. Other brands may behave differently when baking—just a head’s up.)
The dense brownies were topped with a big, fat layer of malted milk chocolate frosting. Unlike the brownies, the frosting is quite sweet, so it’s the perfect match for the bittersweet brownies. The toppings are a jumble of different textures and flavors, so every bite is a little bit different.
The great thing is, Whoppers or Malteasers are available year-round, so you can enjoy these brownies any time—no Easter egg candies required. You can also leave out the malt powder in the brownies and/or the frosting, if you don’t have it or if you’re philosophically opposed to malt for some reason.
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 8 oz unsalted butter, cubed
- 10.5 oz (1.5 cups) granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4.25 oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1.85 oz (1/2 cup) chocolate malted milk powder (I used Ovaltine brand)
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 oz (1 cup) malted milk eggs, plus more for decorating (I used Brach's brand)
- 3 oz (1/2 cup) chocolate chunks
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 cups (16 oz) powdered sugar
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1.87 oz (1/2 cup) chocolate malted milk powder (I used Ovaltine brand)
- 4 tbsp milk, plus more if necessary
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Fun toppings: pastel candy eggs, Sixlets, sugar pearls, sprinkles, and/or chocolate bark
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, extending the foil up and over the sides, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the finely chopped chocolate in a large saucepan, and gently heat it over low heat, stirring often, until it is nearly melted. Add the cubed butter and stir it in until the butter is melted. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the granulated sugar and stir it into the chocolate—it will become grainy. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, and continue to whisk until the batter loses its grainy texture and becomes smoother and thicker—it will start to clump together and feel thick like chocolate pudding. This may take several minutes of whisking, but this process gives the brownies a better final texture.
- Finally, add the flour, malted milk powder, and salt, and stir it together with a spatula. Add the malted milk eggs and chocolate chunks, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth it into an even layer. Bake the brownies at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, rotating halfway through. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center is no longer gooey but still has moist crumbs attached. Cool completely before adding the frosting.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt it in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Place the remaining ingredients (sugar through salt) in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sugar is thoroughly moistened, then raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Turn the mixer speed back to low, and add the chocolate. Once the chocolate is mixed in, raise the speed back to medium and beat for one minute more. If the frosting seems too stiff, add a bit more milk until you get a texture you like. Use immediately, or place in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed on top. The frosting can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before using.
- To assemble the brownies, spread the frosting all over the top of the cooked brownies, and create swirls with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle your toppings all over the top: use a variety of shapes and colors for maximum fun! Press down gently on the larger items to embed them in the frosting.
- If you have time, chill the brownies before cutting them—having the brownies and frosting firm will give you really clean cuts. Before serving, top each brownie with a piece of swirled chocolate bark. For the best taste and texture, enjoy these brownies at room temperature. They will keep for up to two weeks in a container in the refrigerator.
- 10 oz chocolate candy coating (can substitute regular chocolate instead)
- 4-5 different colors of pastel candy coating, about 1 oz of each color
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil.
- Place the chocolate candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl, and place the colored candy coatings in small bowls, divided by color. Microwave the coatings one at a time in short intervals, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating.
- Once all of the coatings are melted and smooth, pour the chocolate coating onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it into a layer less than ¼-inch thick.
- Drizzle the other colors on top of the chocolate in a random pattern. No need to be precise—just dip a spoon in the color and fling it around over the chocolate! Repeat until the chocolate is covered with a web of different colors.
- Take a toothpick and swirl it through the bark, creating swirls of chocolate and pastel colors. Stop while you still have distinct swirls—too much swirling and the colors become muddy and indistinct.
- Refrigerate the tray to set the coating, for about 20 minutes. Once set, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. (If you try to cut shapes out when it is cold, it is more likely to break.) Use small cookie cutters to cut shapes out the swirled bark, or just break them into shards by hand. The bark can be made several weeks in advance.