Mini Brownie Cupcakes

I have been making a lot of mini brownie cupcakes lately, so I had to share some pictures and a quick how to. Why a “how to” you might wonder? Really how hard can it be to bake mini brownies in a cupcake pan? Do they really taste different?

Well, the answer to all of those things surprised me, so it may surprise you.

What made me make them in the first place?

I make gluten free brownies for a local cafe/small grocery store in our town. It is called Good to Go. It is a great place to grab breakfast, lunch, to stock up on your favorite healthy foods for your pantry or of course to get some brownies or cookies baked by me.  When I first started baking for them, the owner wanted to eventually have me make brownies. I didn’t have a good brownie recipe and didn’t want to use someone else’s recipe so I needed time to play. I eventually created one that I love and make them for them regularly now. 

But back to the mini brownie cupcakes. When I was growing up in Watertown, NY kids spent their weekends roaming the mall and going to the movies. I fondly remember Friday and Saturday nights wandering the mall, buying treats for the movies and then sitting with a big row of teenagers. I barely saw so many movies because we were so busy talking! As a parent now I shudder to think about how annoying we were to the mall staff and their other patrons.

My snack of choice was always brownie cups from the cookie place. They were mid-sized brownies that were clearly baked in cupcake pans (no liners) and they were topped with frosting in the middle.

Last winter my daughter had an event at school and they were BEGGING parents to bring goodies. I wanted to bring something that wasn’t too hard, that would be a little bit different, not need to be cut and served, and be individually sized. Mini cupcakes would be perfect, but also seemed kind of ordinary for this dressy dessert event. What about mini brownies instead? I decided to give it a whirl.

Tips and tricks

Because the event was struggling with getting sign ups I chose to make a recipe of both gluten-free and regular brownies. That would make for A LOT of brownies!! I made the gluten free version first and baked them in a brownie pan where half of the slots were filled with mini cupcake liners and the other half of the cavities were liner free. In my perfect world, the cupcakes would be like the ones that I bought from the cookie store; liner free.

A typical bake time for regular brownies is 30 minutes, so I was guessing a bit on timing for the minis. I decided on 20 minutes as I watched them, and it turns out that 20 minutes is a good length of time.

As I’ve baked them more and more I learned these things.

  • Let the batter rest in the tins for about 10 minutes before you put it into the oven.
  • Use liners. If you don’t, getting them out of the pan takes forever and you have to grease each cavity well. I’m too impatient for that.
  • Don’t overfill. If they puff up and overflow out of the cavity they won’t be attractive and they’ll stick to the surrounding edges of the pan.
  • Wait several hours before you try to peel the wrapper off one. When I first made these I thought they hadn’t worked because I tried to peel the wrapper too soon. My answer was to peel every wrapper for serving at the event and that was a lot of extra, unnecessary work.

Do they really taste different?

I hesitate to say “better” but I kind of do think they taste better. They are definitely different than brownies. I recently made them for a friend’s 50th birthday party and people were commenting that they had to have another. I kind of laughed in my head because I had succumbed and eaten 5 or 6 of them when I baked them that morning. At the party, people were politely stopping at 2. It is a case of taking a bite and thinking, “Wow what is this? A cupcake? No it isn’t quite like a cupcake. Hmmm.. I like that taste.” It has a bit of an interest that makes you think about it – not quite like a brownie as it feels really light but not quite like a cupcake.

These brownie bites surround a sea of Amaretti Cookies

Do I have to frost them?

No of course you don’t HAVE to do anything, but I think the frosting is what makes them. I love to pair these with interesting frostings and fun sprinkles. Some of my favorites include:

  • Pistachio
  • Mocha
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Mint Chocolate Cookie
  • Peanut butter

The recipe, please!

This is the recipe for my gluten free brownies. I haven’t posted the regular recipe yet, but the only difference from the gluten free version is that it has all purpose flour and no xanthan gum. This is a case where I actually prefer the gluten-free option, but the regular ones are delicious as well (and cheaper/easier to make because you don’t need to buy 3 flours to blend).


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