Magical Layered Brownies

Are you familiar with the magical effect that happens when butter undergoes a simple transformation and changes from everyday yellow to tantalizing brown? Oh yes, I’m talking about browned butter, and it just might be the next best thing since sliced bread.

Take for instance these brownies. Without the browned butter, they would be your everyday layered brownie. Not necessarily a bad thing. Would I eat them? Well, that’s a silly question. Of course I would. But add in a middle layer of browned butter frosting and here’s the difference: I can’t stop eating them.

Seriously, the browned butter makes such a glorious difference – changing a too-sweet frosting into a creamy layer with depth and caramelly richness. Browned butter is in, people, and trust me, after tasting the magic, you’ll never go back to plain old softened room temperature butter for a frosting like this. And as your friend, I must tell you, yellow butter is, like, so last summer. So stay hip and use browned butter today!

Magical Layered Brownies

One Year Ago: Delmonico Potato Bake
Two Years Ago: Tri Color Pasta Salad
Three Years Ago: Oreo Crusted White Chocolate Mousse Torte

Magical Layered Brownies

Yield: Makes 9X13-inch pan of brownies

Magical Layered Brownies


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Browned Butter Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Glaze:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch aluminum pan with nonstick cooking spray and cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Lightly grease the parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
  2. For the brownies, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and salt. Mix with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture has lightened in color and is very thick. Fold in the warm (not hot!) chocolate/butter mixture. Stir in the flour and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing evenly.
  3. Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes until the sides pull away from the pan just slightly. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours).
  4. For the browned butter frosting, place the stick of butter in a small saucepan and set it over low heat. It is best to not use a non-stick or dark coated pan in this step because it will be difficult to tell when the butter has turned brown. Let the butter melt over low heat and turn a caramel brown color, about 15 minutes. Watch carefully so the butter doesn’t burn. Once it has turned a nice medium-brown color, remove it from the heat. Pour the butter into a medium bowl. Immediately add the powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla. Mix well with an electric mixer until the frosting is smooth and thick.
  5. Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies.
  6. For the glaze, melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave or on the stovetop until it is smooth. Pour the warm glaze over the frosted brownies. Tip the pan from side to side to even out the glaze over the frosting (or carefully spread with a knife or offset spatula). Chill the brownies until the glaze is set and the brownies are chilled through, about 1-2 hours. The brownies taste best cold.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Ann Hodgman

80 Responses to Magical Layered Brownies

  1. Emily says:

    I made these yesterday and they were very good, but I tried doing it with browned butter and now they only taste like butter. I think they would be much better with regular butter.. now I just eat the brownie part cause it’s just too much.

  2. Susan says:

    I just discovered this blog and these sounded so intriguing, I had to try them. Took them to a bbq on Saturday and they were a HUGE hit! I’m not a big brownie fan but these are absolutely delicious! Very, very good and not difficult to make. Thank you! I’m a fan & will try more recipes!

  3. Brittney says:

    Made these the other night for the first time and they were seriously dreamy! Can’t wait to make them again! Thank you!

  4. Ariane says:

    Looks so good! Can’t wait to try these!!! What adjustments would you recommend for an 8×8″ square pan? Thanks!

  5. Grace says:

    I made your magical layered brownies last night. My goodness, they are absolutely amazing!!! My husband is a brownie snob, and I have yet to make a brownie to suit his liking… until now! He gobbled them up. THANK YOU for sharing this recipe… amazing!

  6. Kate says:

    I made these for coffee hour at church yesterday and people were hitting up my husband for the recipe like he had made them (I was teaching Sunday School at the time); they were crazy about them! I’ll definitely be making them again!

  7. Liz says:

    These brownies are gorgeous, especially once fridge-cold! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  8. Toni says:

    Oh wow. Came across this recipe on pinterest and decided to make them for my boyfriend’s birthday dessert (he hates cake, but loooves brownies). Have to admit, I was a little concered with the cold brownie, because I have always liked warm ones. But let me tell you, this is the richest, melt in your mouth deliciousness that I have ever baked. Everyone that had one begged me to take some home with them and told me that I should open my own bakery, haha, right. So thank you very much for this recipe. It’s awesome.

  9. Megan says:

    A-MAZ-ING!!!! Love these brownies! I had tried them when my sister made them a long time ago, but I made them today and sampling the frosting really made me realize how amazing they are. Browned butter tastes like carmel. Mmmmmm…these were so tasty. I had to use a different brownie base because I didn’t have enough unsweetened chocolate, but they were still awesome. I will put this in my winner box. Thanks Mel!

  10. Cara says:

    I have a question about these brownies: I couldn’t get the brownie portion to fully cook at 300 for 30 minutes–it was raw inside. Is there something I should be doing differently? The browned-butter frosting was incredible! Thanks for your scrumptious recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Cara – I suspect you just need to add more time (even a significant amount like 10 minutes or so) or you could raise the temp to 325 degrees. Many ovens can differ quite a bit in actual temperature and that might be the issue.

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  12. Ann Baker says:

    Mel…you just may be my “knight in shining armor” (or at least the female equivalent)!!! My grandmother used to make brownies just like this but sadly she passed away without leaving us the recipe. My sister have spent decades looking for a similar recipe, but without success. I’m going to try making these this weekend and if they’re anywhere near as good as hers, I’m going to give you a great big cyber hug!

  13. Darci says:

    What kind of Chocolate do you reccomend?

  14. Ellen says:

    This has been my go-to recipe for years. My son calls them, “mom’s world famous brownies”! The only difference in my recipe is that the brownies are cooked in a 15×9 jelly roll(cookie sheet) pan. I love them this way. Since the brownie is so rich, having a thinner base is nice. If you do it this way, make sure to only cook the brownies 18-20 min at 350. Not a big change, but I also drizzle on the chocolate layer instead of making it solid. Makes for an attractive pattern on top of the brownies.

  15. Katie says:

    Trust me, I did not forget these brownies! They are my most favorite brownies ever! Your Andes mint brownies are a very close second. Can’t get enough of your site!

  16. Jeanne says:

    My daughter made these and told me how wonderful tey are. I’m not a huge “sweets” person, but I made them. Wow!! They are amazing. I’m making them tonight for a ladies Christmas party tomorrow. I’m sue I’ll be printing the recipe for friends.

  17. Jill says:

    Best brownies EVER!!!!!!!!! These remind me of the brownies my grandma made and kept in her fridge-she added mint to the frosting. My family fought over these! (my too tight pants tell me I won!) Thank you!

  18. Jaime says:

    I made these tonight and my husband said they were “scrumptious” so thanks for another winner!

  19. cathy says:

    I always use browned butter in my chocolate chip cookies AMAZING.

  20. Mel says:

    Ashlee – I haven’t doubled this for a sheet pan so I don’t know how the measurements would work out exactly. Do you have two 9X13 pans you could easily double the batch and bake in separate pans?

  21. Ashlee says:

    Mel, have you ever tried doubling this for a sheet pan? I have to take a pan of something for a church thing, so I’m deciding between these and your thick and chewy chocolate chip bars…

  22. cindy says:

    Do you have to use an aluminum pan or can you use glass?

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Question… I am always looking for freezable desserts that can slide nicely into my husband’s lunch in the morning. Do you know if these would freeze well frosted? They look heavenly!

    • Mel says:

      Elizabeth – I’ve never frozen these brownies, so I’m not sure, but I think it’s probably worth a try. Let me know if you give it a go!

  24. Tracey says:

    These brownies were heaven. At first, I thought they were good, but not fantastic. THEN, it was like the longer they were in the fridge, the better they became! YUM!! πŸ™‚

  25. Logan says:

    A friend and I made these yesterday! They are delicious!

  26. Elisabeth says:

    I tried these this weekend at our Memorial Day cookout. They were absolutely fantastic! There were only 8 adults at the cookout, and yet over half of the bars from the 9×13 pan were gone! Thank you for such a fabulous recipe!

  27. Alanna says:

    These are amazing. And my husband made them for me for Mother’s Day!! Woohoo!

  28. Michelle says:

    I made these and they were seriously the best brownies ever. It was like a mixture of my two favorite things, toffee and brownies. But BETTER. THANK YOU so much for the recipe!! It’s my new go-to dessert!!!

  29. Kristen says:

    Yet another winner!!!! I never thought I was a brownie fan until I tried these…these are incredible, a little piece of heaven you might say. Truly incredible….if you are looking for the best brownie recipe, this is it indeed. Thanks Mel for yet another keeper!!!

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  31. Amanda says:

    I’m not a big fan of brownies. I hardly ever make them but when I saw this recipe I wanted to try them out. I made them 2 days ago and the pan is just about gone. I LOVED the frosting. I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfect! Thanks!!

  32. Beth says:

    I made these for company last weekend and they were thoroughly enjoyed. I ate my fair share in the days following. If you’re loving browned butter, I can also highly recommend America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for brown sugar cookies (make sure you use fresh brown sugar and weight it though). They taste best warm from the oven, so I always make a double batch, freeze in cookie balls and have them waiting in the freezer for a last minute dessert. You can skip Nigella’s recipe for browned butter cupcakes, though. Thanks for sharing your browned butter recipe here. I never would have thought to put it with chocolate, but it definitely works!

  33. sara says:

    These are SO good. If you’re in doubt about whether to make these, go for it. They are awesome! Thanks for another great recipe!

  34. Kensi says:

    I made these and they are fantastic! Worth the extra steps and I couldn’t get enough of the icing. Yum! Thanks for the recipe!

  35. Catherine says:

    These must be the best brownies ever and I’ll tell you why: my husband, who can take or leave desserts, has eaten about half of them himself! I made them yesterday. Today he came home from work, took one right out of the pan and asked me “What is in these brownies? They are so good!” He said he even took a bunch to work today. Now, if my husband is enamored with them, they are off-the-charts good!

  36. Adrienne says:

    Im wondering if you have tried to frost a cake with the browned butter icing? It looks great, but I don’t want to try it and end up with the frosting sliding off the cake because it is too soft!

  37. Tessa says:

    These sound decadent (but delicious too!). Yum!

  38. Stacie Aho says:

    Made these yesterday with my kids. We were going to have them for dinner (hubby is out of town!), but I didn’t realize they needed so much time to cool. That was my fault. I tried one after it was in the fridge for about 45 minutes, but they were MUCH better today after getting nice and firm. I love love LOVE brown butter. Thanks for the delicious chocolate coma!

  39. Mike Vigneau says:

    Ok…so I made this as I do most of your amazing desserts.

    I think I did something wrong. I tried to cook my brownies at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, but it never seemed to cook. It stayed a gooey batter. There was a crusty layer on the outside, but just goo on the inside.

    I turned the heat up to 350 and it finally cooked, but I don’t think they were as good as they should have been.

    • Heidi says:

      I came back to read the comments because this happened the first time I made them! The second time, I forgot to whip the eggs and sugar, and they cooked perfectly. This third time, I remembered to do it right and they’re just like you described…crispy shell and gooey batter inside. I’m not sure what to do and was searching for tip:) They’re delicious, though.

  40. CaSaundra says:

    I better jump on the browned butter bandwagon–sounds delish!

  41. grace says:

    i’m always the last to find out about new trends! ack, i’m such a nerd. i thank you, mel, for maybe making me the second to last to find out about the awesomeness of browned butter. πŸ™‚

  42. Danielle says:

    Yes. These are amazing. I am not sure if mine is exactly the same, but I got it from some family magazine. I am pretty much the rockstar of the night when I make these for any event. πŸ™‚ I like to cut them pretty small since they are so rich and put each individual brownie in a small (flattened) cupcake wrapper. They look so cute and presentation is everything…right?
    I love your blog…I have made many many of your recipes…

  43. toni anderson says:

    Sound fantastic!!

  44. Loralee says:

    My family all knows about my serious addiction to brownies – so much so that my daughters got me a gift basket filled with – guess – all kinds of brownies mixes and frostings. But my favorites are always the home made kind. So – I am going to have to try these!

  45. Kim says:

    Ann Hodgman rules! Beat This and Beat That are two of my all time favorite cookbooks (pre internet blogs). Will definitely try this.

  46. Ashley says:

    You’re right. These are absolutely delicious. I cannot seem to stay away from em…. curses!!! πŸ™‚

  47. These look really wonderful. We’d love to have you feature these photos at

  48. I skipped the frosting due to no cream, but the brownies are my perfect brownie texture. Thick, and fudgy. I used 1 stick plus 6 T butter, and a cup and a half of cocoa powder. I think I might reduce it to a cup next time, but still…SO good.

  49. Jessica says:

    Definitely can’t wait to try these. Thank you for introducing us to so many new methods…you have such faith in your readers!

  50. brilynn says:

    Those look amazing! Browned butter should really be added to everything… it’s like bacon.

  51. Kim in MD says:

    Brown butter in baked goods seems to be all the rage these days, as does adding sea salt to baked goods. I trust you completely Melanie, so if you say these are a “must make” brownie, I am making these! This weekend! Thanks for sharing your passion for great food with us!

  52. Irene says:

    Well…….if this recipe isn’t calling my name, I don’t know what is! These look so scrumptious and I will have the time this weekend to bake a batch! I had no idea that browned butter could make such a difference. I’ve learned something new! Now….I can’t wait until the weekend!!:) Thank you!!

  53. Lisa says:

    Okay….I think you are so funny and you need your own cooking show….Just sayin’ I’d watch you!

  54. Veronica says:

    Brown butter makes everything better. Love it so much. I haven’t added it to frosting yet but have been wanting to put some brown butter frosting on a banana cake. It sounds so yummy! I love this idea and the look reminds me a lot of buckeye brownies that have a layer of pb frosting on top, and then a thin layer of chocolate just like this. You should try that next! To die for.

  55. Kristi says:

    I made these. This VERY day. They were phenomenal. They tasted like toffee. Holy crap they were good!

  56. Jessica DuRee says:

    I wish that I could reach through the computer screen and a brownie would magically appear in my hand! I guess I’ll have to make these soon πŸ™‚

  57. Ellen says:

    I have been making these brownies for years…exact recipe…EXCEPT…I didn’t brown the butter. In fact, the kids call them, “mom’s world famous brownies”. They are that good! I just made them last weekend and am tempted to make them again but this time w/ the new twist on the frosting. I bet it is amazing! Thanks…I will even try this on my cupcakes for my shop!

  58. Julie Koepke says:

    I was told years ago that we will have browned butter in heaven. I put it on cooked veggies and pasta. Yummy!

  59. KarenC says:

    Those looks so GOOD!

    I first made browned butter frosting last Fall when I whipped up some apple cupcakes. I could not believe what a difference doing something as simple as browning the butter made in that frosting. It was so nutty and rich.

    I’ll bet the combination of browned butter frosting and chocolate is to die for. I’m definitely trying these!

  60. TaLaisa says:


    Had a major aha moment reading about the filling. And of course there is a story to it. Back when I was in college in a certain small town in Idaho, there was a candy store, Mom’s Candy Kitchen. Given the nature of my classes (culinary arts) we took a field trip to this store to watch how they handmade the centers of their chocolates and did the dipping. While there we got samples. I tried this one chocolate (Princess Michelle) and nearly died, it was a browned butter vanilla fondant center dipped in milk chocolate and rolled in toasted dessicated coconut. SO good! I bought a box that day and shared them with my roommates. Okay maybe just one roommate. From that day on my roommate and I would walk uphill both ways in 3 feet of snow (if you know Rexburg, you know that’s not impossible) once a week to get a Princess Michelle fix.

    In our confectionery class I perfected a copy-cat recipe for them but still made the trek because I didn’t want to have 3 pounds of fondant hanging around and 2 or 3 chocolates once a week was enough. But I’ve made them at Christmas time, fondant is a ton of work!

    But this recipe is a princess michelle fix in a different (easier) form, so I thank you. But my newly fitting smaller jeans may not, lol.

  61. Angie says:

    Oh I love brown butter frosting!!! These sounds amazing! I’ve only had brown butter frosting on cinnamon rolls (it also tastes soooo good on those) but I’m so excited to try these!

  62. Joanne says:

    Anything that involves brown butter is magical in my opinion. And brownies just take it to a whole new level!

  63. Kensi says:

    Yum! This post made me laugh! I might try these for a cookie/bar exchange I’m hosting this weekend!

  64. Johanna says:

    My husband and I are starting back on the eating healthy train… then I opened your site to these beauties… we’ll see how it goes! πŸ™‚

  65. Camille says:

    I’ve had Ann Hodgman’s recipe for this (torn from a magazine) sitting out waiting to be tried for a couple of weeks. Now I’m really gonna have to make these – they look divine!

  66. Ohhh… these look and sound fabulous!

  67. I had to come see what you did with your browned butter…so true, you just can’t stop eating them, it’s so bad! That is why I put that I would never make them when home alone and not able to share. I have a recipe that I NEED to try the browned butter frosting on. We are so hip πŸ˜‰

  68. I think I’ll have to try this browned butter thing… I’ve been hearing about it more and more πŸ™‚

  69. Looks like another winner! πŸ™‚

  70. Brooke says:

    Wowwww… Is it bad to want these for breakfast! Haha! I will defiantly be trying these soon!

  71. Ricki says:

    Wow! Those look amazing!

  72. Kerri says:

    Okay these seriously sound amazing! Dang it, why do I have to be on a diet?! I am definately going to give these a try sometime!

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