Summer in Minnesota is too short for my taste, so our family does everything we can to maximize that time with outdoor activities. We go swimming, boating, play badminton and volleyball, and generally soak up the sunshine. For the first few years of our marriage, Ryan played in a casual summer softball league. It was a once-a-week commitment and I always enjoyed meeting him after work, hauling my lawn chair over to the field, and watching Ryan and our friends from church play a couple of games.
Our lives have gotten significantly more hectic since those days, so now Ryan occasionally fills in as a back-up when a friend’s team is short on players. When his co-workers recently learned about Ryan’s softball experience and my food blogging, they decided that they definitely needed us to make an appearance at an upcoming game. Ryan could bring the hits and I could bring the treats – what could be better?! We told his friend James (who was spear-heading our recruitment) that if he picked the recipe, I would bring the softball snacks. Apparently even grown-ups need treats after they play a game! James chose Bumblebee & Butterfly Brownie Cake – a perfect theme for a summer night.
The evening of the game was beautiful, and several other colleagues and families joined in the cheering. Unfortunately, the team didn’t win that night, but the blow was softened by a rich combination of chocolate, peanut butter and a taste of honey.
To make Bumblebee & Butterfly Brownie Cake, start by pre-heating your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 15x10x1-inch baking pan and then set it aside. I didn’t have a pan that size (and knew that I needed something with a cover for bringing it to the game), so I resorted to my 13x9-inch cake pan with matching lid.
In a small saucepan, combine unsweetened baking chocolate, water and a cup of butter.
Cook over medium heat – stirring regularly – until the ingredients come to a boil (this should take 6-7 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Add the eggs and then the chocolate mixture.
Use a hand mixer to beat all of the ingredients together.
Now grab that greased, floured pan and pour in the batter.
Place the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. Since I used a smaller pan, my brownie cake was thicker and thus required a little extra baking time.
You’re going to frost these, so don’t be shy about giving it a few toothpick tests to make sure the cake is cooked through. When the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
As your cake cools, prep your decorations. I wanted to keep my flavors simple, so I went with butterflies only, even though the recipe calls for bumblebees too. I liked that the salty pretzels would complement the sweetness of the frosting. If you'd like to learn how to make the cute bumblebees, the recipe includes the step-by-step instructions.
Simply line a pan with wax paper. Then, grab a bag of small pretzels (the smaller, the better!) and vanilla-flavored candy coating (“almond bark”). Or, do what I did and use white chocolate baking squares, since they’ll blend perfectly with your chocolatey brownie cake.
Melt the almond bark or white chocolate in a microwave-safe container. Then, dip the double-rounded ends of the pretzels (the “wings,” if you will) in the coating. Place them on the wax paper and immediately sprinkle with decorator sugars.
If you don’t have decorator sugars on hand, you can always make your own, finer, version by mixing a couple of drops of food coloring with a few tablespoons of white sugar. The granules just won’t be as large and reflective as decorator’s sugars would be.
When your wings are all dipped and decorated, place the pan in the fridge so the coating can firm up.
When your brownie cake is almost cooled, you can prep the frosting. Combine powdered sugar, softened butter, creamy peanut butter, and honey in medium bowl.
Beat at medium-high speed, adding enough half & half for desired frosting consistency.
When you’re certain the cake is completely cooled, begin frosting. (Frosting a warm cake will result in melted, drippy frosting – and a very frustrated baker. So, be sure your brownie cake is truly room temperature!)
I think that placing a butterfly on each slice would be easiest (and look the nicest) after the cake was cut, since you could center each decoration just so. But, since this Bumblebee & Butterfly Brownie Cake had to be mobile enough to make it to a softball game, the next best thing was aligning butterflies in a grid and planning to cut around them.
To make the butterfly “body,” I put two pretzels together with the non-coated edges touching. Where they met, I added enough melted white chocolate to hold 3 or 4 chocolate chips lined up to make the body. You can use a couple of pieces of licorice if you prefer.
In the end, the Bumblebee & Butterfly Brownie Cake was happily devoured by players and cheering section alike. Just keep in mind that this tasty dessert is rich – so providing a nice, cold glass of milk is the perfect complement to your victory (or consolation) treat!
Enjoy Bumblebee & Butterfly Brownie Cake at your next outdoor occasion, then rate and review the recipe.