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Feline-Like Brownies

9 brownies

Chef notes

The best-ever brownies. Gooey, chunky and decadently chocolaty, with a shiny crackly top. Made even more su-purr-rior by the additional cats and shortbread layer and the contrasting crunch that the cookies bring to the party. There's also a secret peanut butter layer!

Use my Calico Cat Cookies in this recipe.

Technique tips: The main things to watch out for are making sure you have read the recipe fully to begin with, then whisking the mixture a lot before adding the flour, then mixing as minimally as possible after you add the flour. The brownies also need to be cooled properly before eating them, otherwise they'll be too runny in the center, but there are no major cat-astrophes with this one, even if you do something slightly 'wrong' it'll pawbably still be tasty.

Swap option: To make these gluten-free, substitute with a gluten-free plain flour blend plus 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum.


Shortbread Base and Cats
  • recipes Calico Cat Cookies (recipe linked above)
    • 1 cup minus 1 teaspoon (220 grams) salted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 cup (200 grams) soft dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup (200 grams) caster or granulated sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (140 grams) all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup (100 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 9 ounces (250 grams) dark bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
    Peanut Butter Layer (optional)
    • 3/4 cup minus 1 teaspoon (160 grams) smooth peanut butter
    • 3/4 cup (105 grams) powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
    • 2 tablespoons (25 milliliters) milk


    For the shortbread base and cats:


    Grease and line a 9- by 9-inch square tin, allowing the parchment paper to extend up two of the sides to make lifting out easier later.


    First, make the shortbread. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper or a silicone mat. Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and spreadable. Add the flour and mix until just combined. The dough should be slightly sticky, but soft and easy to handle.


    Remove 9 ounces (250 grams) of the shortbread and set aside. Press the remaining shortbread into the base of the prepared tin in an even layer and chill in the fridge or freezer.


    With the reserved shortbread, pinch off two 1¼-ounce (35 gram) pieces of dough and set aside the remaining larger piece. Mix orange food dye into one of the small pieces and cocoa powder into the other.


    If the dough feels too warm or soft, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes until firm enough to roll out.


    Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll the large plain piece of dough out to around 1/4-inch-thick. Press in pieces of the orange and brown dough all over randomly, then roll out again until around 1/6-inch-thick. Cut out cat shapes using cutters, then transfer to the prepared baking sheets. You will have some leftover dough, so press this together and roll out again, being careful to prevent the colors from merging too much.


    Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 F.


    Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until just ever so lightly browned at the edges. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

    For the brownies:


    Return your attention to the chilled shortbread layer in the tin and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool slightly.


    Meanwhile, start making the brownie mixture. Using a handheld electric whisk, or a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment, whisk the butter, salt, oil and sugars together in a large bowl until just combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk at high speed until pale in color. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold in. Add the roughly chopped chocolate and fold again. Avoid overmixing after adding the flour.


    Scoop half the batter on top of the shortbread layer and use the back of a spoon to level the top.
    For the peanut butter layer:
    Using a spoon, beat the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and milk together in a large bowl until thick (similar to cookie dough).

    To assemble:


    Take chunks of the peanut butter dough, flatten them with your hands, then place on top of the batter. Spoon and spread the remaining half of the brownie mixture on top and decorate with 9 baked calico cats.


    Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (longer baking time for a slightly less gooey brownie) until there is no longer any liquid in the middle, but it still should look technically undercooked, as it will finish cooking as it cools.


    Leave to cool in the oven for 30 minutes, then set the tin on the work surface and leave to cool at room temperature. To help speed up cooling, you can put the tin into the freezer. Once it's fully cool it should be set and can be lifted out of the tin (using the baking paper "handles" to help).


    Once cool, peel off the baking paper and slice into 9 segments, being careful not to slice up any of the kitties! Eat straight away or store in an airtight container for up to a week. You can also successfully freeze these if suitably wrapped.