When we ate lunch at the American Girl Bistro at Mall of America, Bee ordered chocolate covered brownie pops for dessert. She absolutely LOVED them (she still talks about them), but at $5.95 for only 3, they were a teensybit pricey. Especially when you consider that you can buy an entire brownie mix on sale for less than a dollar.
This super-girly, pinkalicious picture is from the American Girl Store brochure, which Bee has pored over a hundred times, and probably committed to memory by now.
This year for the girls’ birthdays, which are only 10 days apart, we arranged to have a party at the children’s museum. Each daughter was allowed to invite 4 friends, and the 2-hour party, including all the museum fun, the cake, party supplies, gift bags for the guests (which include a free admission coupon), special gifts for the birthday girls, and a party attendant who handles all the clean-up, is only $12 per child. My typical budget for a joint birthday party is $100, but since I don’t have to do anything for this party – no cake baking, no decorating, no searching for party favors – I have no objection to spending an extra $20.
One day, while in the shower (which is my creative think tank) I was thinking about how to celebrate the girls’ individual birthdays because, in addition to a party with their friends, we always do something special as a family. I didn’t want to make them cakes, because the museum provides a cake for their party, so I decided to attempt brownie pops instead. I knew both girls would love them, and they would be a fun reminder of our trip to Mall of America.
The next day, I looked up recipes for brownie pops, and they all required the purchase of a $10 mold. You know how I feel about buying cake pans, so I asked my husband how I could make “balls” of brownie. We thought that maybe we could use a round cookie scoop, which works, but it doesn’t make a compact ball, and one side is still flat. After some trial and error, I discovered that the quickest, easiest way to make brownie balls is to just use your hands.
First, bake a 13×9 pan of brownies. I used a box mix that I bought on sale for 79 cents. You want moist, fudgy brownies – not cake-like ones – and it’s best to underbake them a little bit. In this case, the box called for a minimum baking time of 28 minutes, and I took them out after 25 minutes. With a greased, plastic knife, cut off the crispy outer edge, and cut the brownies into 24 small bars, like this:
When the brownies are cool enough to handle, but still slightly warm, remove them from the pan (lining your pan with parchment paper will make this really easy). Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray, and form each bar into a ball. It’s best to press down in the center, so that the crackly top is in the middle of the ball, because you want the outside to be smooth.
Line up the brownie balls on a baking sheet, and insert a small craft or lollipop stick. I used craft sticks because I had them on hand.
I froze the brownie pops overnight so they would be easy to work with. Plus, the coldness of the brownie helps the chocolate set up faster. I coated the brownie pops in milk, and white chocolate, which I melted in coffee mugs in the microwave. Just microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
If you want to decorate the pops with colored sugar or sprinkles, you need to do so before the chocolate starts to set up, or the sprinkles won’t stick. I tried dipping and rolling the pops in sprinkles, but the result wasn’t very pretty. Instead, I inverted the plastic colander from my salad spinner, and inserted the dipped pops in the slots. This made it easy to decorate them, and the chocolate could cool without any blemishes.
I wanted to display the pops in a way that was similar to how they were served at the American Girl Store, so I cut out two disks of packing foam, and stacked them inside a fluted dessert dish. I secured them to the bottom of the dish with scrapbooker’s glue dots, so they wouldn’t slide around.
I made birthday cupcakes for Bee to take to school, and I managed to scrape together enough batter to make one extra, so that she would have candles to blow out. I didn’t have a number 9 candle, so I cut a 9 out of scrapbook paper and fastened it to a regular candle with a glue dot.
To make these brownie pops, I purchased a brownie mix (79 cents), a package of chocolate coating wafers ($3.07), and a container of rainbow nonpareils (94 cents). I had everything else, including a half package of white chocolate chips, on hand. Taking into consideration the quantity of ingredients used, and the cost of eggs and oil to make the brownies, I estimate that I was able to make 24 pops for approximately $3.25.
Bee’s going to be away on a Girl Scout trip tomorrow and Friday, so we decided to have her birthday celebration tonight. I snapped a picture of her reaction when she walked in the door after school:
That smile…that’s why I do it.[print-me/]