When it comes to food pairings, chocolate and coffee are a classic combination. Whether they’re incorporated into a mocha latte, tiramisu, or baked into a chocolate cake. And these thick, fudgy espresso brownies are no exception.
The sweetness of chocolate paired with the bitterness of coffee balances each other out so well. And while I developed these brownies specifically to highlight the coffee flavor, just a little coffee or espresso in brownie recipes heightens the chocolate flavor.
And don’t even get me started on the thick, glossy espresso chocolate ganache that glistens a top of these delectable brownies. It’s even more of a WOW factor and takes these brownies to the next level.
A few Ingredient Notes
You’ll need just a few pantry staples, plus espresso powder to make both the espresso brownies and ganache. Let’s go over a few of the ingredients and optional substitutions.
- Unsalted butter: These brownies are made with melted butter, meaning no need to prep ahead and remember to soften the butter. If you only have salted butter on hand, use it and omit the added salt.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Adds a rich, balanced sweetness that won’t outshine the espresso powder. If you prefer a darker, richer chocolate flavor, opt for your favorite dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.
- Sugar: Granulated, white sugar is best for the ideal, fudgy texture. If you prefer your brownies EXTRA moist and fudgy, sub in 1/2 light brown sugar.
- Eggs: Two eggs are key for structure, moisture, and flavor. Room-temperature eggs aren’t a requirement, but if you have the option, room-temperature eggs can yield a better-textured brownie batter.
- Flour: I’ve only made these espresso brownies with all-purpose flour. It’s the superior flour for light, fudgy baked goods. If you are gluten-free, check out my No Bake Chocolate Cookies.
- Cocoa powder: Necessary for the ultimate chocolate mocha flavor. Use unsweetened cocoa powder and the higher quality, the better the brownies will be.
- Espresso powder: Key to achieving the ultimate coffee AND chocolate flavor. If you can’t find instant espresso powder, swap in an instant coffee. It’s slightly less concentrated but will certainly do the trick.
- Heavy cream: An essential in homemade espresso ganache. For in-depth details, read my full blog post: Espresso Chocolate Ganache.
How to Make Espresso Brownies
Making this recipe is very similar to any ol’ brownie recipe. Wet ingredients mixed with dry ingredients until a thick, fudgy batter forms, then bake until set and gooey. The espresso ganache adds an extra step, but it’s done while they bake. Easy peasy.
Make the Chocolate Mixture
Add the chocolate chips and butter to a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl and stir until melted and smooth. If microwaving, heat in 20-second increments, stirring in between.
Transfer the chocolate mixer to a large bowl, then whisk in the vanilla extract and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk between each addition until the eggs and chocolate mixture are just combined.
Stir in the Dry Ingredients
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the flour, cocoa, salt, and espresso powder. Mix until the dry ingredients are about halfway incorporated, and then add the remaining chocolate chips.
The batter should be thick, and free of dry spots of flour, but try to not over mix the dough or you’ll incorporate too much air and end up with cake-like brownies.
Time to Bake
Transfer the brownie batter to a prepared baking pan, then pop in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until set around the edges.
It’s okay if the espresso brownies have a fudgy center, but if the center of the brownies is too wet, they won’t set enough once cooled. Stick a toothpick in the center and it should come out with moist crumbs, but not wet batter.
Frost the Brownies
In just a second we’ll dive deeper into the espresso ganache, but once the espresso brownies have cooled to room temperature, pour the ganache over top. Spread evenly to coat, then allow the espresso ganache to set for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
The Espresso Ganache
Ok, you didn’t think a regular ol’ fudgy, gooey, espresso brownie would be enough, did you? I mean, it is, it’s great. But just wait until you try it with espresso ganache on top.
What is Ganache?
Ganache is an easy-to-make chocolate sauce or icing. It’s made with chocolate and cream, and in this case, espresso powder to pair with the brownies.
Let’s Make Ganache
In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and espresso powder until just before a simmer, stirring to dissolve the espresso into the cream.
Place the chocolate chips in a separate bowl, then pour the warmed heavy cream over top. Allow the chocolate and cream mixture to sit for about 1 minute, or until the chips start to melt. Then, stir until smooth and glossy. A small spatula works well for this.
Troubleshooting tip: If the heavy cream wasn’t warm enough to melt the chocolate chips, place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 15-second intervals until just melted. Be careful not to burn it or the chocolate will seize. Please be sure to check out my full espresso ganache recipe post for more recipe tips!
I don’t have to tell you that fudgy mocha brownies are the ideal, handheld dessert any day of the week, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of my more creative serving ideas with you. If you’re ready to take these coffee brownies to the next level, check out these ideas:
- Make a brownie sundae – A scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, fresh berries, chopped walnuts, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry on top.
- Drizzle with caramel sauce – Finish with Bourbon Caramel sauce and enjoy a Caramel Mocha Latte in brownie form.
- Turn into a milkshake – Add a brownie to the blender with a scoop of ice cream and a splash of milk.
- Brownie ice cream sandwich – Swap the cookies for brownies and fancy yourself a chocolate brownie ice cream sandwich. Check out my Brookie Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches for inspiration.
- Brownie cheesecake – Use these brownies as the crust in my Individual Strawberry Cheesecakes.
- Brownies for breakfast – What’s the real difference between eating gooey Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls and chocolate brownies with a cup of coffee for breakfast? I give you full permission to indulge any time of day. And if you’re going the breakfast route, pair it with a Peppermint Mocha or Iced Mocha for the ultimate espresso flavor.
Storage and Freezing
You have several options when it comes to storing and freezing these homemade brownies.
Short-term storage: Baked brownies keep best in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. If your house is warm or humid, skip the counter and transfer them right to the fridge. This will prevent the espresso ganache from melting.
Long-term storage: Both frosted and unfrosted espresso brownies can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, I’d recommend cutting into individual squares first. This will allow you to thaw the exact number of brownies you’ll need at a time (extremely helpful in the case of a chocolate craving emergency).
Once cut into squares, spread the brownies on a large baking sheet and flash freeze until frozen solid (a few hours). Then, transfer each brownie to a freezer-safe container, layering a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper between each layer. Alternatively, wrap each frozen brownie in saran wrap, then place together in a large ziplock bag.
More 5-Star Brownie Recipes to Try
- Better Than a Boyfriend Brownies
- Peppermint Brownies (with cream cheese frosting!)
- Cannoli Brownies
- Bailey’s Cheesecake Brownies – with more espresso ganache!
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Espresso Brownies with Chocolate Ganache
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, making sure each side has some hanging over to easily remove. Alternatively, lightly grease the pan.
- Melt the butter and 1/4 cup chocolate chips tother either using a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl. If microwaving, heat the mixture in 20-second increments, stirring in between to prevent burning.½ cup unsalted butter
- Once melted, let cool slightly, then whisk the vanilla and sugar into the butter/chocolate mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking between each addition just until combined.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs
- Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder. Once the dry ingredients are halfway combined, add the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Stir until incorporated, but take care to not overmix.½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon fine salt, 2 ½ teaspoons espresso powder
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, until brownie edges are set and desired "gooey-ness" is reached. Check by inserting a toothpick. Let the brownies cool on the counter before frosting.
- Espresso Ganache: In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and espresso until warm, just before a simmer. Place chocolate chips in a separate bowl and pour heated cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth and glossy. If the cream is not hot enough to melt all the chips, you may need to microwave for 10-15 seconds, but be careful it doesn't burn.¼ cup heavy cream, ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 teaspoons espresso powder
- Pour the ganache onto the brownies and spread evenly. Top with sea salt flakes, if desired. Slice into 9 large brownies or 12 smaller brownies, and enjoy!
This post was originally published in November 2016. The photos were updated in June 2019, and a few tweaks were made to the recipe for improvement purposes.
This recipe is part of our Date Night Recipes to Love roundup. Check it out!