While organizing her kitchen one afternoon, Allison Theodore of Wren Island discovered a lifetime supply of instant coffee—and a nifty way of baking brownies in an instant pot. At the same time, Allison’s Aunt Amelia learned to record videos on her cell phone. Here’s a peek at what happened that day (from Part Two of The Wren Island Series):
“M-mm.” Aunt Amelia smiled around her first bite, then took another. “It tastes buzzy.”
“Buzzy.” Aunt Macy took a bite and narrowed her eyes. “You didn’t put liqueur in these, did you?”
Allison reached for her aunt’s arm. “Of course not. Keep guessing.”
Aunt Shasta’s bracelets clinked as she raised one hand. “I bet there’s coffee in it.”
“Uh-huh.” Allison took a bite of her own brownie. “And I found a recipe that uses instant coffee in frosting, too. So next time I make these brownies, I’ll frost them.”
“Wow.” Aunt Amelia pulled out her phone and began recording. “So what we have here, folks, is a new idea for all you instant pot lovers. It’s a phenomenon that’s sure to sweep the country. Allison’s buzzy brownies. Stay tuned for the frosted version in a future episode.”
When Aunt Amelia panned the camera to her, Allison winked.
Here is the recipe for Allison’s Buzzy Brownies.
For the brownies, you will need:
- 6-quart instant pot
- 7-inch springform pan
- Roasting rack sized to fit your springform pan
- Silicone sealing ring designated for baked goods—so your brownies don’t taste like last night’s curry chicken
- One small package (20 ounces) of brownie mix and the necessary ingredients
- Instant coffee
- Powdered sugar for dusting (or make frosting from the recipe below)
Directions for making the brownies:
In a mixing bowl, combine the brownie ingredients. Follow the box directions, but use slightly less water. For instance, if the directions call for 1/3 cup water, use 1/4 cup water.
Add 1 or 2 packets (about 3.3 grams each) of instant coffee. One packet will give you a hint of richness. Two packets and your brownies will get more buzzy.
Transfer the brownie mix to your springform pan. VERY IMPORTANT: Cover the pan tightly with foil! Add about 1 cup water to the IP’s inner cooking pot. Using the roasting rack, lower the covered springform pan into the inner cooking pot.
Bake the brownie on the CAKE setting (30 minutes on High). Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then vent and remove the IP lid. Use the lifting rack to bring your brownie out of the pot. Remove foil, but leave brownie in pan until it is completely cool.
These brownies bake very flat and dense—almost like a torte. Carefully transfer the brownie to a pretty plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar—or make frosting from the recipe below!
For the frosting, you will need:
- Stand mixer with flat beater paddle
- Butter (unsalted or salted)
- Sifted powdered sugar
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Instant coffee
- White vinegar
Directions for making the frosting:
First things first: Bring the butter to room temperature before using!
In the stand mixer bowl, add 1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter and 1/2 cup milk. Blend on medium speed for about two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a spatula.
Turn the mixer off. Add 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 or 2 packets (about 3.3 grams each) of instant coffee.
Very slowly (because you don’t want powdered sugar flying all over your kitchen) start your mixer on low speed. Mix for about 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides of bowl. Repeat mixing and scraping until ingredients are incorporating, then increase speed to medium-high for about a minute.
Check the consistency. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add milk. This is the perfect time to add a teaspoon of white vinegar to cut the sweetness. Mix on medium-high until the frosting looks and tastes the way you want it.
Frost the top of the brownie and leave the sides bare. Or, bake two pans of brownies and layer with frosting (this recipe makes enough!). Or follow Aunt Amelia’s lead and use the extra frosting in cracker sandwiches.
Allison’s Buzzy Brownies are featured in The Wren Island Series, an interactive serialized fiction experience.
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[Photo courtesy of Unsplash.]