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Out-of-this-World Cocoa Brownies

Out-of-this-World Cocoa Brownies

Rich cocoa brownies topped with a creamy chocolate ganache and crunchy rainbow candy bits. Look familiar? It should: this recipe is a homemade version of Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies that’s both true to and an improvement on the original at the same time.

These brownies are seriously out of this world, and I’m not just spewing hyperbole here. I’m always hesitant to say something is the best, but these really might be the best brownies I’ve ever made (and I’ve made a lot of damn good brownies, if I do say so myself).

Homemade Cosmic Brownies Recipe with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and Crunchy Rainbow Bit Sprinkles

Our goal here was to replicate the appeal of the Cosmic brownies, mainly in terms of the chewy, fudgy texture that makes them so addicting. But the mass-produced version has a distinctly fake flavor that I had no desire to replicate. The same for the slightly plasticky consistency of the glaze: a result of copious amounts of corn syrup, I’m sure.

Instead, this homemade Cosmic brownie copycat gives you the fudgyness you crave, but with a lovely, well-rounded chocolate flavor and a silky smooth chocolate ganache on top.

Ridiculously Fudgy Brownies made with just cocoa powder, topped with a simple chocolate ganache and rainbow sprinkles. Copycat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies Recipe - Homemade is always better!

The brownie base is seriously rich and fudgy, perfectly chewy but not too dense. It’d be a fabulous brownie sans-ganache too: when all you’re wanting is a damn good, plain-ass brownie, this one might just be your new go-to.

The chocolate ganache is made from a mix of milk and semisweet chocolates, producing a lusciously silky texture and a flavor that’s just the right amount of sweet with barely any bitter. And coming from a fan of super dark chocolate, well, this is a lovely respite from the intensity I usually gravitate towards.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies Recipe Copycat Cosmic Brownies Recipe with Milk Chocolate Ganache and Rainbow Candy Chips

While the brownie base doesn’t product the perfect crackly crust (I didn’t obsess over such a thing since it’d just be covered up anyway), the brownie itself is really quite spectacular, especially considering it’s just cocoa, with no melted chocolate at all (pretty much every other brownie I’ve ever made features varying amounts of melted chocolate in addition to the cocoa.) I thought I’d miss it, but I really don’t. Of course, using really good cocoa is paramount.

It’s not quite a one-bowl brownie recipe (I melted the chocolate and sugar on the stove in a pot, which, although not a bowl, is still another vessel to wash so I don’t count it as a true one-bowl recipe).

You do want to be sure the melted butter and sugar have plenty of time to cool before adding your eggs, otherwise you might end up with scrambled egg brownies which is less than appealing. I put it in the mixer on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes and it cooled down pretty fast. It should feel warm, but not hot to the touch.

After adding the eggs, turn up the speed and give it a good beating, for upwards of 3 solid minutes. This helps develop the fudgy texture of the brownies. While you can do this by hand too, you want to use a big whisk and vigorously beat the eggs into the batter. You should feel it in your arms (gotta work off the calories somehow, might as well make brownies, I say!)

The Best Fudgy Cocoa Brownie Recipe with the smoothest Milk Chocolate Ganache

The ganache can be poured onto the brownies while they are still warm out of the oven. I started chopping my chocolate and warming my cream when the brownies had about 5 minutes left to bake.

When the brownies come out of the oven, if the edges have lifted a bit (even without leavening they’ll probably still rise a bit), you can gently press them down using an offset spatula. Don’t smash them, just press the tall edges down level with the rest of the brownies. That way, when you pour on the ganache, it spreads out in a perfectly even layer over the entire brownie.

Out-of-this-World Cocoa Brownie Recipe with Chocolate Ganache and Crunchy Rainbow Sprinkles

Of course, the sprinkles are really what make Cosmic brownies different from other brownies, so I went to the extra effort of seeking out the right kind. They’re basically mini chocolate chips coated with a colorful candy coating, something in between a chocolate chip and a Sixlet, you could say. They have a lovely crunch that you don’t get with regular chips or rainbow sprinkles.

I used the pastel bit chips from Sweetapolita (they have classic rainbow as well); Wilton also makes a rainbow crunch sprinkle that’s virtually identical to the original Cosmic brownies.

I really love the added crunch that these sprinkles give the brownies, not to mention the pretty pop of color.

I mean, they’re pretty much perfect, don’t you think?

Cosmic Brownies

Out-of-this-World Cocoa Brownies

These copycat Cosmic brownies feature a rich cocoa brownie topped with a luscious layer of chocolate ganache and rainbow chocolate chip sprinkles.

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For Brownies:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounce) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

For Ganache:

  • 4 ounces semisweet (50-60%) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • rainbow bit chip sprinkles, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment (the butter will keep the parchment from moving when you spread in the batter). Lightly butter parchment.
  2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter. When it is completely melted and starts to sputter, add sugar and stir until smooth and paste-like, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until mixture has cooled and no longer feels hot to the touch (it should read about 90 to 100 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
  3. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla; mix on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until pale yellow and falling off the beater in thick ribbons.
  4. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and mix on low speed until dry ingredients just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the beater to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Add milk and stir just until smooth.
  5. Pour into prepared baking pan. Rather than dumping it all in the middle, it’ll be easier to spread the thick batter if you drop dollops of batter around the pan. Using a thin offset spatula, spread batter into an even layer.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, but no raw batter. Depending on what kind of pan you use this time might be more or less (darker metal pans tend to cook more quickly, whereas glass pans can take much longer).
  7. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. If you notice the edges of your brownies are sticking up quite a bit, you can gently press with an offset spatula to flatten them out while the brownies are still hot (this will make the ganache go on in a smoother layer).
  8. To prepare ganache, place finely chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Warm cream in a small saucepan until it starts to steam and bubble (but be careful not to let it scald).
  9. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, then start whisking, gently in concentric circles starting in the middle. When you see a pocket of shiny chocolate in the center, that means you have created a good emulsion, start slowly whisking in wider and wider circles until all the cream is incorporated and the chocolate is fully melted. Add cubes of butter and slowly stir until smooth.
  10. Pour ganache over top of warm brownies, spreading into an even layer with an offset spatula if necessary. Scatter sprinkles over top.
  11. Let brownies sit at cool room temperature for 2 to 3 hours until completely set. You can refrigerate them if you’re in a hurry, however the ganache will lose its shiny finish. A wine fridge is also a great way to set the ganache without losing the shine.
  12. Lift brownies out of pan using parchment as handles. Cut into 16 squares (or bigger/smaller as desired). Brownies will keep at cool room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 7.
All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. Fantastic! The brownies turned out delicious. I just melted the butter in the microwave & mixed everything by hand in one bowl & the texture of the brownies still turned out perfect. I did use half semisweet and half bittersweet chocolate for the ganache, and considering how sweet the ganache turned out, I would not use milk chocolate in this. In fact I think the brownies only need half as much ganache as the recipe calls for. And the brownies taste great refrigerated—I actually liked them better after they sat in the fridge overnight. So I wouldn’t bother leaving them out on the counter, since they won’t last as long that way. Overall I am extremely happy with how these turned out & I would recommend giving this recipe a try!  

    • So glad you enjoyed!
      I used milk chocolate here to more closely mimic the original cosmic brownies, which use milk chocolate in both the brownie base and topping. But the recipe works with darker chocolates as well. :)

  2. Tried to make a double batch because they looked sooooo delicious in the picture, but I think I over cooked the butter/sugar mixture. After I transferred to bowl and mixed to cool it was hard as a rock in both batches, and it didn’t even “sputter”. In one batch the sugar didn’t dissolve but it’s like rock candy. I am using organic sugar, could that be the problem? Any suggestions are appreciated! 

    • Sounds like you may have caramelized the sugar? You only want to heat that part until the butter is melted and you get a smoothish paste, the sugar will not completely dissolve and it won’t bubble or anything like it would if you were making caramel. Organic sugar should work fine though.

  3. Tried to make a double batch because they looked sooooo delicious in the picture, but I think I over cooked the butter/sugar mixture. After I transferred to bowl and mixed to cool it was hard as a rock in both batches, and it didn’t even “sputter”. In one batch the sugar didn’t dissolve but it’s like rock candy. I am using organic sugar, could that be the problem? do I HAVE to heat the butter and sugar before mixing with the rest of the ingredients? Any suggestions are appreciated! 

  4. Delicious brownies, like a much better version of Little Debbies.

    But, mine took way longer to cook than the recipe stated and I do have an oven thermometer, so temp was correct.  I think next time, I’ll try a 9×9 pan.   

    • What kind of pan did you use? A glass pan, for example, can take much longer to cook than a metal pan (which is what I used).

  5. Omg sorry about the double post! And thank you for the reply! Since the top will be covered by the ganache, can we skip heating the sugar? Or does it impact the texture of the brownie?

  6. Hi! Do we have to heat the butter on the stove? Can’t we just melt it and add it to the sugar in the mixer? Or do we have to melt the sugar too?

  7. I was nervous to try these as I’m a novice baker, but they came out really well! I honestly don’t even like brownies, but these were literally amazing. I didn’t have dutch-process cocoa powder so I used regular, and it was fine! I got rave reviews from the friends and family that I gave these to, and my sister even said they were the best brownies she’s ever had in her life. I definitely have to agree. I experimented a bit with toppings; I toasted some chopped walnuts to top some of the pieces, and topped others with sweetened coconut flakes. I have to say, the walnuts were a winner. Thank you for the delicious recipe! I will be making these again!

    • Hi! Do we have to heat the butter on the stove? Can’t we just melt it and add it to the sugar in the mixer? Or do we have to melt the sugar too?

      • The sugar gets heated with the butter for a time too; letting that partially dissolve is what helps form a shiny crust.

  8. Hi Lindsay! I’m hoping to make these for a big Christmas event and will be scaling up the recipe to make enough servings for 175-200 people. Do you have any tips for cutting the brownies and getting the nice clean lines like you have in your photos? Your brownies look so elegant and I’d love to replicate that as much as possible!

    • These are thin enough you may be able to bake them in a sheet pan, though calculate your volume (3 or 4x the recipe is guess?) and keep a close eye on the cook time.
      As for cutting, measure first with a ruler, then use a large knife that’s been heated in hot water. Wipe dry them make a cut, and try not to saw. Wipe the blade clean between eat cut. Other option is to use a square cookie cutter, which makes perfect squares but you do end up with more waste (Aka chef snacks lol).
      Good luck!!

  9. Brownies were delicious, but my ganache also did not firm-up. Any clues why this might have happened?

  10. These were fantastic! The brownie was fudgy and rich. My ganache didn’t firm and set as expected. It was delicious but loose. I let it sit at room temperature for 2.5 hour and 1 hour in the fridge. I used Hershey’s chocolate for the milk chocolate in the ganache which I think may have been the issue because it can be oily. Did anyone else have issues with the ganache not firming up? 

  11. These brownies are definitely heavenly and gorgeous!! Perfect for a chocolate lover. I used the Wilton Rainbow Chip Crunch Sprinkles I got from Joanne’s craftstore and they were perfect.

  12. I’d suggest using a 13×9 pan but yes, double recipe should do it. ;)

  13. I want to make these in a 1/2 sheet pan, would I have to double the recipe?

  14. Made these last night for game night; they were a hit! In my electric oven, glass 7×11 pan, it could’ve used 5 min less than 25; but they still came out great. Fudge-y, gooey ganache, and I used wilton sprinkles that mimicked cosmic brownies. 100% make again.

    • So glad you enjoyed! Glass pans generally hold heat more than metal so I recommend lowering the temp by 25 degrees next time!

  15. Is there any substitutions for eggs

  16. Can I make these into brownie bites?

  17. Is the butter and sugar supposed to liquify or just be a paste?

    • I’d call it a smooth paste. The sugar won’t dissolve entirely. For me I just kept stirring until it no longer appeared separated (a greasy layer of butter sitting on top).

  18. When is the best time to cut the brownies to prevent the chocolate from cracking? Can I freeze these brownies ?

    • I let my brownies sit at cool room temperature for a few hours and then cut them. The ganache will set up quite a bit if refrigerated. I have not personally tried to freeze them. The brownies should be fine but I’m not sure how the ganache would hold up.

  19. These look INSANE!! Cosmic brownies were in my lunchbox almost daily as a kid I’ve gotta try these out?

  20. Those brownies look yummy and adorable. Could you please tell me where you purchased those pastel rainbow chip. Thank you.

  21. shout out to sixlets! and this is most definitely one of the best things on the internet.

  22. Wow…looks amazing and tasty

  23. Wow your photos are amazing! And these brownies look beyond decadent! I love the colorful sprinkles on top. :)

  24. needed a brownie recipe that’s fun and along came this! Love the rainbow candy for the fun and the ganache for the taste, thank you!

  25. Absolutely stunning. The ganache makes my heart skip a beat.

  26. Brownies do look out of this world!! I want it right now!!

  27. Wow this is such a fantastic recipe. My little one will absolutely love it. Got to try it!

  28. I may or may not have just licked my monitor….

  29. Perfect texture ! Love it ! Thank you !

  30. WOW these brownies look so good! So chocolatey and rich! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

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