Cinnamon Cayenne Brownies with Cinnamon Buttercream

This might be the perfect spicy sweet treat. First you make rich, fudgy brownies, slightly spiked with a bit of cayenne. Then you add a smooth, cinnamon-tinged buttercream. The finished dessert is chocolatey, spicy and sweet all at once. It’s pretty incredible!

IMG_7222I’ve made other spicy chocolate recipes in the past, but think this one’s my new favorite. There’s a really great depth to the brownie recipe: it’s a satisfying, deep chocolate, and the spices bring out more flavor. The cinnamon buttercream adds yet another layer of flavor, and complements the brownies in a really unique way. I used a pretty thin layer of buttercream compared to the original recipe, and felt good about the frosting/brownie combo. You could also cut the frosting altogether if you’re short on time or watching your decadence–the brownies definitely stand on their own!

Several coworkers declared this recipe their favorite thing I’ve baked. I’ve brought quite a few things into the office over time so…that’s quite the declaration!

Cinnamon Cayenne Brownies with Cinnamon Buttercream

Original recipe: Garnish with Lemon. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~25 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer optional

Total Time: ~2 hours, including cooling time

Cook Time: 27-32 minutes


For your brownies

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For your frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk or heavy cream (I used milk, it’ll be a little thicker if you use cream)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon


Make your brownies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. Whisk your flour, cinnamon and cayenne in a small bowl
  3. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large microwaveable bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment. Repeat this process until the butter is fully melted, then put the mixture aside so it can cool a bit
  4. Stir your vanilla and eggs into the cocoa mixture. Your batter should be thick and shiny when you’re done
  5. Add the dry ingredients, and stir again until just mixed
  6. Beat the whole batter vigorously for about 30 seconds
  7. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment, leaving a little hanging over the edges so it’s easier to pull the brownies out later
  8. Pour your batter into the pan
  9. Bake for 27-32 minutes. Mine took the full 32. Stick a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness. Your toothpick should have just a few crumbs sticking to it when these are done
  10. Cool the brownies in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift them out to cool completely before frosting. You don’t want to frost hot brownies–the frosting will just melt all over the place!

Frost your brownies

  1. Put your powdered sugar and butter in a mixer bowl. Beat them for about 2-3 minutes, until it’s totally smooth
  2. Add salt, vanilla, milk or cream and cinnamon. Mix it altogether until the frosting is thick and smooth. Taste the frosting before declaring it done–sometimes I add a little more sugar or salt depending on how things are coming together!
  3. Frost your brownies, then cut them into squares. I found these a little harder to cut than some other brownie recipes, so definitely use a sharp knife!




Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

I’ve never been one to use the word “unfussy” to talk about food. And yet, here we are: let’s talk about this unfussy cake. It’s rich and delicious, but also really simple. It’s great on its own–but also easy to dress up with mix-ins, toppings or ice cream.


I also love that this recipe is dairy-free, because I have several friends who avoid dairy. Olive oil gives the cake a great texture, and also brings out richness from the cocoa. The cake is light, airy and the perfect ending to a dinner with friends.

I opted to use regular flour in this, but the original recipe gives you substitutions if you want to make it gluten-free.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

Original recipe: Nigella Lawson. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Suggested equipment: Mixer; food processor if you need to grind sugar

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes


  • 2/3 cup olive oil, plus more to grease the pan
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (You can find this at some stores, usually called superfine sugar, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. Alternatively, you can just use your food processor to grind up standard granulated sugar. I followed The Kitchn’s advice, and ground up 1 cup plus 2 tsp of sugar in the food processor for roughly 30 seconds.) 
  • 3 large eggs
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. Sift your cocoa into a bowl
  3. Whisk in your boiling water until it’s a smooth paste. It will still look a little runny
  4. Whisk in your vanilla, then let the mixture cool for a bit
  5. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, baking soda and salt
  6. Use your mixer to beat the sugar, olive oil and eggs. You should beat them for about 3 minutes until it’s a thickened, yellow-ish cream
  7. Turn the speed down on your mixer, and add in your cocoa with the mixer still running. Stop to scrape as needed
  8. Use a spatula to mix in the flour. When you’re ready to bake, your mix should look dark and liquidy
  9. Grease a 9 inch cake pan (or springform if you have it!) with oil and line it with parchment
  10. Bake 40-45 minutes, until the sides are set but the top still looks a little damp. Use a toothpick to check for doneness–it should be mostly clean with just a few crumbs
  11. Let the cake cool in its tin for 10 minutes
  12. Remove the cake from its pan
  13. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving



Brownie Bit Cookies

Can’t decide whether you want a cookie or a brownie? Have I got a treat for you!

img_0453These chewy cookies boast more than chocolate chips: there are also chewy brownie bits. Start with a cooled batch of brownies. Then you whip up a batch of cookie dough, crumble the brownies into bits, and fold those bits right into the dough.

This recipe takes longer than most, since you have to bake brownies all the way through and then bake a batch of cookies too. But you can totally save time by making semi-homemade brownies, or even buying some at the store. You could definitely use store-bought cookie dough, too. Makes no matter: you’ll end up with great cookies regardless. Every bite into these beauties rewards you with buttery dough, chocolate chips and fudgy brownie. Plus, you should have extra brownies left over…so that’s a win, right?

Brownie Bit Cookies

Original recipe: Two Peas and Their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes



  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt (regular salt is fine if you don’t have sea salt)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups brownie chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • Extra sea salt to sprinkle on the cookies


Make your brownies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use a medium, microwave-safe bowl to melt the butter. Use 30-second increments until the butter is fully melted
  3. Add your sugar and stir to combine
  4. Microwave the mixture until it’s hot, but not bubbling. Keep an eye on it, and stop microwaving once it’s shiny
  5. Stir in your cocoa, baking powder, salt, espresso powder and vanilla
  6. Whisk the eggs into the batter, stirring until it’s totally smooth
  7. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, and spray with nonstick spray
  8. Pour your batter into the pan. Bake about 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Your edges will look set, but the center will still look pretty moist
  9. Let the brownies cool completely, then chop them into bite sized bits so they’re ready to go for your cookies. Measure as you go, because you’ll have leftover brownies and can just keep the rest in the pan for later. You only need 1.5 cups of chunks for the cookies!

Make your cookies

  1.  Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  3. Use your mixer to cream butter, sugar and brown sugar for about 3 minutes
  4. Add your eggs and vanilla, then mix again until it’s fully combined
  5. Set the mixer to low, and slowly mix in your dry ingredients. Only mix until it’s combined—the dough is a little runny so you might be tempted to keep going, but don’t overmix the dough!
  6. Add your chocolate chips and brownie chunks, and stir one more time. I like to do this part by hand so I can keep an eye on mix-in distribution and size!
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment
  8. Use about two tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place onto the baking sheet. You can sprinkle the tops with sea salt if you want (definitely recommend this!)
  9. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are turning a golden brown
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely

M&M Blondies

Sometimes I do things like bake basil into cupcakes. Other times…I just want something simple.


Such delightful color!

These bars are certainly simple, but they’re also incredibly good. Brown sugar makes for an excellent blondie base, and Mini M&Ms add a bit of chocolate to every bite. The M&Ms also add a nice burst of color—which is never a bad thing.

This is an easy recipe that comes together quickly, but you’ll want to allow for a couple of hours of chill time. That helps the bars firm up and locks in the flavor so you get the best blondie possible. I won’t tell anyone if you sneak some extra M&Ms while you wait for the bars to cool…

M&M Blondies

Original recipe: Inside BruCrew Life. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 30 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 3 hours (includes a couple of hours for the bars to fully cool and firm up)

Cook Time: ~22 minutes


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Mini M&Ms


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until they’re creamy
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla, then beat the mixture again
  4. Measure out a cup of the M&Ms, and mix them into the batter by hand
  5. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray
  6. Pour your batter into the dish
  7. Sprinkle your remaining M&Ms over the top of the batter
  8. Bake 22-24 minutes. They’ll look a little under-done when you pull them out, but will firm up as they cool
  9. Let the bars cool for a couple hours, then cut them into squares. Bars keep well in a covered container.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip S’Mores Bars

As I assembled this six-layer dessert, I literally said “this is ridiculous” out loud.

And it’s true—these bars are utterly ridiculous. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip S’Mores Bars are a fun, indulgent riff on s’mores. Think chocolate chip cookie bars, but with layers of goodness inside. You’ve got peanut butter,  chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow fluff in there. That all adds up to six insanely delicious layers.

IMG_4709I found this recipe during one of my s’mores-inspired recipe hunts. I’m a little obsessed with s’moresinspired treats, and constantly add more recipes to my collection.

The original recipe calls for store-bought dough, and you could certainly do that—there’s so much happening in these bars, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference between store-bought and homemade dough. Still, I decided to make mine from scratch, and used the dough from my Gooey Chocolate Chip Fudge Bars. It worked out great: the dough was sturdy enough to keep the bars together, and the original recipe’s yield scaled perfectly to what the s’more bar recipe required. Whether you buy dough or make it, pay attention to measurements: you’ll need two 9×9 layers of dough to make this recipe work!

I was so excited to try these, and anxiously waited for the bars to cool so I could cut them up. My patience was definitely rewarded. Every bite of these bars is a trip down Delicious Lane. You get a bite of cookie, then a nice hit of chocolate, a spot of peanut butter, a spot of fluff…and more cookie. The graham cracker crumbs add a bit of texture, and help break up the fluff a bit.

My coworkers agreed that these bars were ridiculous, but in a totally amazing, have-to-eat-more way. We kept sneaking more bars from the kitchen all afternoon!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip S’Mores Bars

Original recipe: Cookie dough comes from Back from Seconds; Six Layer S’Mores recipe from Cookies and Cups. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 25 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~3 hours, including chill time

Cook Time: ~25 minutes


For the cookie dough

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

For assembly  

  • 4 standard Hershey chocolate bars (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
  • 7 oz of marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)


Make your dough

  1. Use your mixer to cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until it’s light and creamy
  2. Add eggs, vanilla and salt, then mix well
  3. Add baking soda and flour. Mix until combined
  4. Stir in your chocolate chips

Assemble and bake

  1. Line and spray a 9×9 pan
  2. Take 1 1/4 of your cookie dough, and press it into the bottom of the prepared pan. Try to make the layer as smooth as you can
  3. Top your cookie dough with a single layer of chocolate bars
  4. Spread peanut butter on top of the chocolate. This might get tough: I ended up “finger-painting” with the peanut butter to make it work!
  5. Sprinkle your graham cracker crumbs on top of the chocolate
  6. Use a spoon to put dollops of fluff all over the graham crackers, then use an offset spatula to smooth it into a single layer
  7. Use your remaining cookie dough for the final layer. It’s easiest to just put bits of dough on the top, and then smooth them out with your fingers so it’s a single layer
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the top is golden. Mine took 24 minutes. It’s a little hard to tell if they’re done since there are so many layers…make sure to use a toothpick to test if the insides are baked through
  9. Allow the pan to cool for 2 hours on a wire rack. Then, transfer them to the fridge to cool completely.
  10. A little before you want to cut the bars, take them back out of the fridge. Use a shape knife to slice them up!

Note that these are a little tough to cut: it’s too hard when the bars are gooey, but also too hard to cut if they’re super chilled. So I suggest chilling them to let the bars set, but taking them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cut and serve.

These bars last nicely in an airtight container, and are best within 3 days of baking.



And a handy Pin for the Pinners out there:

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Gooey Chocolate Chip Fudge Bars

Plain and simple, these bars are crowd pleasers. What’s not to like? Delicious, chewy chocolate chip cookie bars with a gooey, fudgy middle layer. Every bite oozes with chocolate and buttery cookie dough.

IMG_4445I made these bars for a “Cookies and Cocktails” event I hosted with a friend a couple weeks ago. It started from a joke: the friend had asked when I’d host my next cookie party. But you know: why not? So we invited a bunch of our friends to this cool new cocktail bar in Hayes Valley, I made a ton of cookies, and we had a fabulous afternoon.

I ended up making 5 type of cookies for the party, and wanted a mix of “simple” recipes and “surprising” recipes. I’d saved this recipe on Pinterest a while ago, and it seemed like the perfect pick. These bars technically fell into the “simple” category, but they’re still a twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie.

These are easy to make, but make sure you allow time to chill them when you’re done. You’ll need to let the bars set for a couple hours before cutting into them…or you’ll end up with a gooey mess, rather than gooey centers!

Our Cookies and Cocktails party was outside, and I was a little worried the centers would melt in the sun. The bars kept their texture just fine but I live in San Francisco, where hot is relative and it’s never really that sunny. I’d be careful bringing these outside on a super sunny day in other parts of the world!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Fudge Bars

Original recipe: Back for Seconds. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: I got 40 bars out of this, but I didn’t make them all even! Your yield depends on sizing, but you should expect around 32 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes (includes 2 hours of “chill time” so the bars firm up)

Cook Time: ~25 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 4 cups chocolate chips (some for the dough, some for the filling)
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (typically one can)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, then spray it lightly with nonstick spray so it’s easy to remove the bars later
  3. Use your mixer to cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until it’s light and creamy
  4. Add eggs, vanilla and salt, then mix well
  5. Add baking soda and flour. Mix until combined
  6. Stir in 2 cups of the chocolate chips
  7. Press 2/3 of your cookie dough into the lined pan and set the pan aside
  8. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the condensed milk and the other 2 cups of chocolate chips. Use 30 second increments, and stir the mixture in between each run in the microwave. Keep doing this until the chocolate is entirely melted and smooth. You might want to shorten the increments near the end so you don’t burn the chocolate
  9. Pour your fudge over the cookie dough, and smooth it with a spatula
  10. Use your hands to make a cookie dough top layer. Take a portion of dough, flatten it with your hands, and press it on top of the chocolate. Repeat until the fudge layer is entirely covered in dough
  11. Bake 22-25 minutes. When it’s done, the top will look golden and the edges will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. Mine took 24 minutes
  12. Let the bars cool completely on your counter. Then, pop them in your fridge to firm up for a couple hours. Once they’ve set, cut the bars with a sharp knife
  13. Store the bars in a covered container. I left mine in the fridge and took them out an hour before serving, because I wanted to make sure the fudge layer stayed firm.



Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Looking for a party-ready, easy treat? I’ve got you covered.


These Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars are a salty sweet treat that’s easy to whip up, and super easy to scarf down. The prep is really simple: just make some cookie dough, mix in your pretzels and chocolate, and throw it in a pan. No other prep, no chill time…you don’t even need to roll the dough into balls! These are a great pick for events outdoors since they’ll keep nicely in hot temperatures and they’re easy to transport.

I’ve made these a few times, and they’re always a crowd pleaser. The actual cookie dough is delicious on its own, and the pretzel/chocolate combo takes it up a notch. The original recipe also includes a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, but I’ve never tried that part and the bars certainly don’t need a drizzle to be delicious!

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Original recipe: Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 32 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (or semisweet, if you prefer)
  • 1½ cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Whisk your flour, baking soda and salt
  3. Using your mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until it’s light and fluffy (it will take about a minute)
  4. Beat in your eggs and vanilla
  5. Switch the mixer to low speed, then beat in the flour mixture until it’s just incorporated
  6. Stir in your chocolate chips and pretzel pieces by hand
  7. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray
  8. Pour your batter into the pan and use a spatula to make sure it’s evenly spread
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown
  10. Let the pan cool completely, then cut into squares and enjoy!