Ghirardelli Triple Fudge Brownies

Karen’s mom makes some of the most awesome homemade frosted brownies ever, and I love them.  In spite of lots of attempts, I’ve never found my own homemade brownie recipe that delivers really deep fudge chewiness.  When I discovered Ghirardelli brownie mixes, I decided to stop looking for that elusive homemade recipe.  The tagline on the Ghirardelli brownie box says “Better Chocolate.  Better Brownies.”  And that, friends, is the truth.

There probably isn’t anyone who hasn’t heard of Ghirardelli (Gear-ar-delly) Chocolate.  Italian Domingo Ghirardelli came to the United States in 1849, hoping to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush.  When his gold mining attempts failed, he began selling supplies and confections to the miners from a tent.  That enterprise was successful, so he opened a store and hotel in San Francisco.  A devastating fire destroyed his businesses and in 1852, he restarted his career in a candy company that would become Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.  More than 160 years later, Ghirardelli is America’s longest continuously operating chocolate manufacturer.  The company is very selective about the cocoa beans they process; they roast the beans themselves, and have a proprietary system of processing the roasted beans to deliver smooth, complex chocolate taste.  No doubt, their chocolate candies are decadently delicious, but I love their baking products even more.

The Triple Fudge Brownie mix combines cocoa, chocolate chips and liquid fudge for a deep, super-rich, chocolate fudge taste.  These brownies are a stand-out on their own, but I like to top them with chocolate orange buttercream frosting.  I haven’t convinced Karen to try them, as she is not a fan of chocolate-orange combinations, but everyone else has given them rave reviews.  Finding a good chocolate buttercream frosting recipe proved to be more challenging than I would have guessed.  Since the name of the frosting is “buttercream”, I’m wondering why so many recipes call for shortening, milk or water instead of butter and cream?  I adapted a recipe from food.com, adding an orange essential oil which produces intense orange flavor.  I’m sure orange extract could be used to your personal taste.

Triple Fudge Brownies with Chocolate-Orange Buttercream Frosting

Brownies

1-19 oz box Ghirardelli Triple Fudge Brownie Mix

Mix and bake brownies as directed for an 8″ x 8″ pan.  Remove brownies from oven and immediately cover with foil.  (My mom recently told me about this trick, which keeps the brownies moist and prevents the outer edges from forming a hard crust.  Pretty amazing.)  Let brownies cool completely.

Frosting

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

4-5 tablespoons heavy cream (more or less)

1 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush”

3 drops orange essential oil

Beat butter in a small bowl until creamy.  Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well.  Stir in cream a tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until frosting is creamy and spreadable.  Add vanilla and orange essential oil.  Spread over cooled brownies.  Cut into 16 squares and store at room temperature.

Ghirardelli baking products are widely available, but there are some nice gift box selections on their website.

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