I did use a boxed brownie mix - I really only planned to make some brownies for the week-end, then I got this idea to make it in a round glazed pottery dish my Mom had given me for Christmas...and then, I got the idea to bring cream cheese frosting into play...and then I got the bright idea to cut the brownie to make it two layers (that was not the best decision I will say - it was hard to accomplish).
All-in-all, it is a holiday-worthy dessert. I am no cake decorator that is for sure, but a very large star tip made everything either very easy or challenging, depending on which part I was working on. The family thought it looked good and tasted good. The teen forwent second servings of dinner to make sure he had room for dessert. It was a satisfying result but quite the challenging endeavor.
Here's how I did it.
I prepared a box of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie 13x9 Family Size, per package directions. I wish I'd used 3 eggs instead of 2 to make it more cake-like. I used a 10 inch round pan and I sprayed the bottom of that pan with vegetable oil spray, laid a round of parchment paper in the bottom, and then sprayed it too. In went the batter and it baked for 36-37 minutes.
I allowed the brownie to cool overnight, on a rack, loosely covered with plastic wrap after it was cool to the touch...you don't want condensation under the plastic wrap. The next morning I used a sharp knife to run around the edges to loosen the brownie from the pan. I flipped it onto a "cake turner".
I then had to decide how best to cut the brownie into two layers. My Wilton cake leveler was too tall and not sharp enough anyway. I ended up with the cake on the cake stand on top of a cake decorating lazy susan. I realized a serrated knife was going to be my best bet...even then, I had a slightly fudgy center which caused all sorts of problems. I was able to cut it, then take the same cake lifter and lay it on top of the cake and lifted the cake plate and began a slow tilting motion. I realized what I hoped for was indeed happening! The bottom of the brownie was sticky enough to stay on the cake plate allowing the top layer to plop onto the cake lifter upside down. Whew.
I had prepared some light pink Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below) and placed it in a 16 inch piping bag with a large coupler. I piped a filling of frosting on the bottom layer using a Wilton 1M Star Tip, leaving a border so the filling doesn't squish out.
Next, I flipped the top of the brownie back onto the filled bottom. A minor amount of cracking occurred but I was able to sort of squeeze it back into position since the brownie was really closer to fudgy than cakey. I did have one spot where the filling seeped out to the edge. I covered that with some piping on the sides.
I did a few stars and swirls on top (again, I am not good with cake decorating so don't judge my inconsistent piping :-) and finally piped a heart in the middle. Standing back, it wasn't too bad. I could see all the booboos...but I knew the family probably wouldn't!
It was outstanding - but the slices should have been half the size I cut. We will enjoy nibbling on it a bit more...and I'll need to share a slice or two with a neighbor to get it out of the house. Eating it all would be a bad, bad thing!
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter softened to room temperature (1 stick)
8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
1 pound sifted powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 teaspoon heavy cream - more if needed to get to spreading consistency
4 drops liquid red food coloring
Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla bean paste until incorporated.
Add powdered sugar, beat on low until powder no longer flies, then increase beating speed and add cream and red food coloring to desired color and consistency.
Happy Valentine's Day to everyone.
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!