Last week, my friends Jolene and Emily independently sent me this recipe for Santa hat brownie bites — literally, I received their emails within minutes of each other. I love it when my friends think of me upon seeing cute food! Anyway, both lovely ladies were right — as soon as I saw the adorable strawberry “Santa hats” atop little brownie circles, I knew I’d be making them. I’m not usually a fan of frosting, but the mascarpone cheese-based vanilla buttercream frosting in these is pretty amazing. If you use a brownie mix (as I did), this dessert is really easy to put together, and it adds a festive touch to any holiday gathering.
- 1 8×8″ pan of your favorite brownies, cooled (I used Ghirardelli’s brand brownies)
- A small circle cutter (just for this recipe, I broke down and bought a set of four nesting biscuit cutters)
- 16-20 small strawberries, cleaned and hulled
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Use your circle cutter to cut the circle shapes out of your pan of brownies. My 1.5-inch cutter yielded 19 brownie bites from the 8″x8″ pan of brownies.
Once you’re done cutting the brownie bites, set them aside and make the frosting. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer (I used a hand mixer), beat the butter and mascarpone cheese until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and salt. Add 2-1/2 cups of sugar, half a cup at a time and continue beating until smooth. Add more sugar, if needed, to reach desired consistency and sweetness. (I didn’t add any more than 2.5 cups.)
If you have disposable decorating bags and piping tips, put half of the frosting into the bag, and use a circle tip with a wide opening. Otherwise, use a ziploc bag as a makeshift decorating bag: Put the frosting into the bag, zip the bag, and snip a tiny bit off of one corner.
To assemble the Santa hat brownie bites, pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream on top of each brownie.
If necessary, cut off the base of a strawberry so it is flat and place it pointy-side up on each brownie, pushing slightly to secure in place.
Top the tip of the strawberry with a dot of buttercream to finish the Santa hat.
These were well-received by both kids and adults. I’m definitely going to make them again — perhaps as the dessert for our Christmas morning brunch, but with the berries on top of circles of cake baked from my favorite mix instead (vanilla cake mix from Trader Joe’s — the box looks unassuming, but it is the BEST CAKE EVER. Seriously). The brownies were good, but I’m just not a huge fan of brownies in general — I always feel like they’re too cloying and can only ever eat one bite (it’s a texture thing, mostly). The recipe is great, though; definitely a keeper. Thank you, Emily and Jolene!