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Midnight Munchies: Espresso Mousse Brownies

I couldn't resist taking a bite prior to taking a photo.

As both an avid baker and snacker, I had some trouble deciding what to bake for the inaugural column of Midnight Munchies. Did I want to start on a healthful or an indulgent note? How inventive/elaborate should I be? How could I encapsulate myself in a recipe? After this (slightly melodramatic) train of thought, I settled upon making Espresso Mousse Brownies. They combined three of my favorite foods in the world, chocolate, coffee, and marshmallows, into one heavenly little bite. (Or bites. I ate about a third of the pan.)

I based these brownies off of this recipe, though I didn’t top mine with Valrhona chocolate pearls (college student budgets, y’all). With whipped cream garnish, though, I didn’t miss them.

The beauty of this recipe is that it calls for minimal kitchen equipment: one pot, one spoon, a baking dish and a bowl. That’s it. And you get scrumptious mousse-topped brownies as a result – proof positive that you don’t need elaborate kitchen equipment to bake a truly taste treat.

First things first – preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While that’s warming up, melt your butter over the stovetop – be sure to stir it as it melts so that the butter doesn’t burn! Add in your coffee grounds and stir, like so:

Once that’s mixed, stir in your sugar, eggs, and vanilla, making sure that everything’s completely combined after each addition. Next, stir in your dry ingredients. (I should tell you to sift them all together separately before this step, especially since cocoa powder tends to clump. But, let’s be honest, I’m making brownies in a Dutch oven. We’re not getting technical at this point.) Pour your batter into the pan, and bake your brownies for about 25 minutes – the recipe calls for 30-35, but if you like gooey brownies (and who doesn’t?), I would err on the side of caution and shorten your baking time.

After a torturously long half-hour or so, take your brownies out of the oven and let them cool. While that’s happening, make your mousse: microwave your marshmallows in a heatproof bowl for about 45 seconds, or until they start looking squishy. Once they’ve reached that point, pop them out and stir. They should reach the consistency of marshmallow fluff.

Next, make a shot of espresso (or more for yourself!) and fold that into the marshmallows. The mixture should turn a lovely light brown. Pour that over your already cooled brownies, and refrigerate for an hour.

Actually, half an hour works fine. Ain’t nobody got time to wait for chocolatey gratification. Remove from the fridge, slice into bite-sized squares, and enjoy!

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