So, you tried those Nutella-and-Biscoff cookie butter-layered freezer brownies from TikTok and loved the results, but you hated the process. Spreading the cookie butter and Nutella on parchment was a sticky mess, they took forever to freeze, and by the time they were out of the oven, the process had stretched to seven hours. Happily, this whole “layered brownie” thing can be accomplished much more easily and quickly (the way brownies are supposed to go). It just turns out you’re freezing the wrong layers.
The original TikTok layered freezer brownie recipe requires spreading a thin layer of Nutella on a piece of parchment paper, and a thing layer of Biscoff cookie butter on another sheet of parchment paper, and putting both in the freezer to set firmly. Once they’ve hardened, you spread out a layer of your preferred brownie batter into a pan, peel off a layer of Nutella and place it onto the batter. Add more batter and peel off the Biscoff layer to lay upon the second brownie batter layer, and top it all off with a final blob of brownie batter. Bake as usual, et voilà, a deliciously gooey brownie with distinct candy-butter layers shall appear.
Sounds lovely, but three complaints kept popping up: the Nutella and Biscoff layers take hours to freeze; the layers begin softening quickly, making it hard to remove them from the parchment paper; and it is tough to get the cold layers to meet the corners and edges of the pan.
The idea of a neatly layered brownie sounded magnificent to me, albeit with a method that seemed a little backward. Both the Biscoff and Nutella spread are made with different oils, and trying to harden an unsaturated fat in the freezer will undoubtedly require a long wait, and the results will be short-lived, as unsaturated fats are a liquid in their natural room temperature state. Even once you get those sticky-sweet dessert spreads to freeze, they’ll warm up quickly; unless you’re working in a walk-in fridge with gloves on, your warm hands and above 40°F ambient temperature will be enough for the cookie butter to soften.
So I flipped things around.
Most recipes for brownies include a high proportion of butter, a saturated fat that we all know gets stone-solid in the freezer. Butter cools down rapidly and maintains a firmer frozen texture, making it an ideal base upon which to spread layers of sweet, gooey condiments. Not to mention, you don’t have to do it seven hours in advance, as it only takes 10-15 minutes to become firm.
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Mix up your brownie batter of choice. This can be a scratch-made recipe with butter, or a boxed mix. Note that boxed mixes often call for an egg, water and oil to be added to the powdered mix. Simply swap out the measurement for oil with an equal measurement of melted butter. I used Duncan Hines boxed mix, which called for ½ cup of oil; instead I melted down one stick of butter. It worked like a charm, and I got the added benefit of a richer butter flavor. The butter will also set more firmly than oil after baking, making it easier to cut clean squares and see all of your layers.
Spread ⅓ of the batter into a buttered and parchment-lined baking dish—whichever size dish you like, according to the brownie recipe’s instructions. Put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the chocolate hazelnut and cookie spreads at room temperature so they are smooth and spreadable. Remove the firmed batter from the freezer and spread on a layer of Nutella. Besides being able to easily reach the edges and the corners with the chocolatey spread, you can adjust this layer to be paper-thin or up to a ¼-inch thick—unlike the original, which does not allow for whims, nor whimsy. You can then immediately spread another ⅓ of the brownie batter on top of the Nutella.
Place the dish back in the freezer for another 10-15 minutes. Spread the cookie butter onto this middle brownie layer as thickly or thinly as you like. Immediately spread the last bit of brownie batter onto the Biscoff. Bake your layered brownie according to the recipes directions and your preference, adding a few minutes to account for the cold temperature and added layers in the middle of the batter. I like the center to be fudgy but set, so I ended up adding 7-10 minutes to the bake time.
Eat the brownies however you like—hot and runny, or chilled and fudgy. The brownies will cut better if you allow them to chill, and you can further firm them in the fridge if you want the drama of the layers to show up in every slice. Using this alternate method, you can easily spread other tasty condiments that don’t really freeze like fruit jams, frostings, or marshmallow fluff. Have fun exploring and creating your own viral brownie layers.