Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

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Homemade Cosmic Brownies — These homemade Cosmic Brownies are dark, dense, and rich. The edges are just a bit chewy, with a moist and ultra-fudgy interior.

Homemade Cosmic Brownies

Homemade Cosmic Brownies Recipe

Growing up, I loved Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies and Cosmic Brownies so much. Show me a box of either, and I could show you a pile of cellophane wrappers minutes later.

Although it’s been years since I’ve had a store-bought Cosmic Brownie, I had a craving for them and decided to try my hand at a homemade version. This isn’t the first Little Debbie snack I’ve recreated. A few months ago I made Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch and recently posted a collection of 25 Copycat Recipes. Apparently I like trying to re-invent the wheel.

In terms of authenticity, I give these homemade Cosmic Brownies an 8 out of 10, with easy tweaks noted below to bring that score higher.

In terms of being a fabulous brownie overall, I give them a 10 out of 10. This brownie base is likely to become my new go-to. I loved everything about these frosted fudge brownies.

Homemade Cosmic Brownies topped with mini M&M's

I created this fudge brownie base by adapting my two favorite brownie bases, Fudgy Nutella Brownies and The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies. I’d like to make all three at once and do side-by-side comparisons, and I’ll get to that right after I budget in money for a new pants wardrobe.

Both of my previous brownie bases use melted butter and a whisk, so they come together in minutes in one bowl, without needing a mixer. From there, I took my favorite things from each recipe — such as a 9×9-inch pan and using both brown and granulated sugars from Fudgy Nutella; and two eggs, cocoa powder, and espresso powder from The Ultimate.

These Little Debbie brownies are dark, dense, rich, the edges are just a bit chewy, with a moist and ultra fudgy interior. There’s zero traces of cakiness and the fudge factor reigns supreme.

As the ganache sets up, it remains soft and firms up just enough to not make a total mess when slicing the brownies. I hate it when the top layer of chocolate cracks, and this isn’t that kind of chocolate.

Upon biting into a dense yet chewy brownie, soft ganache squishes and almost squirts between your teeth. And there’s chewy, ganache-softened M&M’s. It’s the best texture party ever. Ever.

I may be biased, but these are way better than regular Cosmic Brownies. And quite possibly, they’re the best brownies I’ve ever had.

Homemade Cosmic Brownies surrounded by mini M&M's

What’s in Cosmic Brownies? 

To make these frosted fudge brownies, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Eggs
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Brewed coffee
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Instant espresso granules  
  • All-purpose flour
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Half and half
  • Mini M&M’s

stack of three Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

How to Make Cosmic Brownies

To make these homemade Cosmic Brownies, you’ll first need to melt the butter. Then, stir in the wet ingredients, followed by the dry. 

Turn the batter into a greased 9×9-inch pan and bake until the top has just set, isn’t jiggly in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few fudgy moist crumbs, but no batter.

Let the brownies cool completely, then make the chocolate ganache frosting. Smooth the ganache over the brownies, then sprinkle with M&M’s. 

You’ll need to pop these Little Debbie brownies into the fridge to set before you can slice and serve them. 

homemade little debbie brownies

Can I Omit the Coffee? 

The coffee and instant espresso don’t make these Cosmic Brownies taste at all like coffee. They just enhance the rich chocolate flavor and make these brownies even better. But if you don’t have coffee or instant espresso granules on hand, you can just add water. 

Can I Make These in an 8×8-Inch Pan? 

Yes, but since the brownies will be even thicker you’ll need to bake them for longer (I’m not sure how much longer, but likely at least 5 minutes more). 

stack of three Homemade Cosmic Brownies

Can I Add Mix-Ins to These Brownies? 

You probably can, although then you wouldn’t be making authentic Cosmic Brownies. But I imagine chocolate chips, chopped candy bars, or chopped nuts would work in these fudge brownies. 

Can I Use Regular Sized M&M’s? 

Technically, yes, but I think those would be tough to bite down on. Get your hands on mini M&M’s, if possible. 

Homemade Cosmic Brownies topped with mini M&M's

Can I Omit the Frosting? 

If you prefer regular fudge brownies, sure! But if you want real Cosmic Brownies, the frosting is a must. 

Do I Have to Use Half and Half in the Frosting? 

Yes, half and half or heavy cream is a must. If you use regular milk, the ganache will be far too runny and won’t set. 

Homemade Cosmic Brownie

How to Store Cosmic Brownies 

Brownies will keep airtight for 1 week at room temperature, for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and for up to 6 months in the freezer. I highly recommend storing them in the refrigerator because having a slight chill to brownies this rich and fudgy is almost imperative.

stack of three homemade little debbie brownies

Tips for Making Cosmic Brownies

I love this Cosmic Brownies recipe and don’t want to change a thing, but in order to make them more authentic, use natural unsweetened cocoa powder rather than Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, and increase the flour by about 1/4 cup. Cosmic Brownies aren’t as dark and are slightly more cakey, but I prefer darker and fudgier brownies to lighter and cakier.

Baking them in a 9×9-inch pan was my preference, but if you want brownies closer to the real deal, use a 9×13 pan. I don’t like brownies that are on the thin side.

The ganache layer is a bit thicker and when it comes to chocolate, thicker and more is better in my book, but use less if you wish.

I used more M&M’s minis than you’d find on Cosmic Brownies because skimpy isn’t an option. Note that when using M&M’s, they fade. The same thing happened when I made this Frozen Chocolate Pudding and Wafer Cake. The color starts leeching out as they sit on top of chocolate or post-refrigeration when coming back up to room temp. Not a huge deal, but something to mention.

The benefit is that as they sit on the ganache, they soften a bit and become chewy rather than crunchy. The texture of chewy M&M’s is just fabulous and is like nothing I’ve ever had, which more than makes up for their slightly muted color.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - If you've never had a Cosmic Brownie, change that asap! If you have, then you know how dangerously good it is to be able to make them at home!

Homemade Cosmic Brownies — These homemade Cosmic Brownies are dark, dense, and rich. The edges are just a bit chewy, with a moist and ultra-fudgy interior.

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Yield: 9 brownies

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

These homemade Cosmic Brownies are dark, dense, and rich. The edges are just a bit chewy, with a moist and ultra-fudgy interior.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

For the Brownies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons coffee or water (coffee leftover from the morning brew is fine)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder or dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso granules (make sure it’s instant so it dissolves), optional but recommended
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the Ganache

  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or cream (I used half-and-half)
  • 1 cup M&M minis (they’re sold in small tubes and I used 1 1/2 tubes; regular size M&Ms may be substituted)

Instructions

    Make the Brownies

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
    2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter, about 90 seconds on high power.
    3. Add the eggs, sugars, coffee, vanilla, and whisk to combine.
    4. Add the cocoa powder, instant espresso, and whisk until incorporated, free from lumps, and smooth. It could take a few minutes if your cocoa powder is lumpy.
    5. Add the flour and stir until it’s just incorporated; don’t overmix.
    6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until top has just set, isn’t jiggly in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few fudgy moist crumbs, but no batter. I baked mine for 26 minutes.
    7. Allow brownies to cool completely in pan. While brownies cool, make the ganache.

    Make the Ganache

    1. Add chocolate chips to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften chips. They won’t be melted, this is okay. Don’t stir; set bowl aside.
    2. Heat cream in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl until it begins to bubble and show signs of just beginning to boiling, about 1 minute on high power.
    3. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
    4. With a whisk, beat mixture until silky, smooth, and combined. If your mixture isn’t smoothing out, heat in 15-second bursts in the microwaves until it can be stirred smooth.
    5. Pour ganache over mostly cooled brownies (after about 30 minutes is fine; they don’t have to be completely cooled). Smooth ganache lightly with a spatula or offset knife.
    6. Evenly sprinkle with M&Ms.
    7. Cover pan with a sheet of foil to prevent fridge smells, and place pan in refrigerator until ganache sets up before slicing and serving, at least 2 hours. Do not slice into them until the ganache has set; feel free to make these in advance and store them in the fridge; they get better with time.

Notes

  • Brownies will keep airtight for 1 week at room temperature, for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and for up to 6 months in the freezer. I highly recommend storing them in the refrigerator because having a slight chill to brownies this rich and fudgy is almost imperative.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 640Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 84gFiber: 4gSugar: 67gProtein: 7g

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Comments

  1. Just amazing, rich and luscious, though very “mocha” in flavor if you use both of the coffees.  Next time I will use only one.  This is a keeper!

    Rating: 4
  2. I first made these a few years ago and shared them with coworkers to rave reviews! I have made them once or twice since, each time with great success. I am planning to make them again this weekend. This is one of those “can’t get it out of my head” recipes that I come back to time and again.  I even have some of those candy covered chocolate chips that make them even more like the Little Debbie brownies. I’ve made them as written with M&M’s as well. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad these have been a hit and that you can’t get the recipe out of your head! I have those too, trust me :)

  3. I have made these to rave reviews. (The rave reviews have been as much from myself as from others who have tried them.) Always looking for a reason to make them again. Perfect, fudgy brownies with a smooth and delicious frosting. Thanks for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
  4. I totally remember having these as a kid but not very often. It’s been years since I had one. I’m going to have to give this recipe a try.

  5. Another amazing recipe! These were so good and only got better with time in the fridge. I have struggled with brownie recipes before but these were perfect and I can’t wait to make them again!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and glad they got better with time in the fridge! I find that with this recipe and some of my other brownies recipes, too!

  6. I made the mistake of making these when I was on maternity leave – since I was home alone, I ate the whole pan in just a few sittings ? Now I’m making them to take to Thanksgiving. Move over pumpkin pie, the world’s best brownies are coming through! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Aww love that you think they’re the world’s best brownies and you’re skipping the pumpkin pie for these!

  7. This recipe is perfect. I omitted the Espresso and used water, but it was still incredible!!! So rich and chocolatey. Also, I’ve seen a few people ask about using an 8×8. I made mine in an 8×8 and they took about 5-10 extra minutes in the oven and are a bit thicker, but very good. I haven’t had a little Debbie in years, but remember loving them as a kid and this homemade version tops those for sure. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Glad it worked in an 8×8 for you and that they’re perfect!

  8. Tried these for the first time today! I didn’t have any coffee or instant espresso, so I switched out the coffee for water and omitted the instant espresso; I think the flavor is nice and rich as is! I don’t really like frosting on most desserts, even as a kid I scraped the frosting off of the Little Debbie brownies, so I omitted the ganache and just put some fun sprinkles and they were still delicious! I’m excited to see how the flavor changes after being refrigerated overnight. Thanks for another great recipe!

  9. Made these brownies for the third time, and of course, they were the hit of the party! I was cooking for a crowd, so I followed the recipe and doubled the amounts. I baked them in a 9×13 pan, however I think next time I double the recipe I would bake them on a half sheet tray to make them thinner. Doubling the recipe in a 9×13 made for a super thick brownie (not the worst thing in the world!) I baked them for about 35-40 mins and they were beautiful and fudgy. The only change I made; I substituted nestle “bunch a crunch” candies for the m&ms. I would highly recommend this to others as they hold their shape and crunch for days and days, so the added texture is awesome! Just wanted to share for others who are thinking of doubling this scrumptious recipe! 

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Good tip that if you do double, consider a sheet pan to keep them a little thinner and the bunch a crunch sound great!

    1. They’d get quite thick which is fine, but traditional Cosmic Brownies are thinner, but I don’t think the recipe would overflow in an 8×8 although I haven’t tried it.

  10. I have made these TWICE this week, one for a birthday treat and one for a BBQ and they are so delicious; a hit with adults and little ones! This will be my go-to brownie recipe from now on! Next time,  I’m adding a peanut butter swirl to the ganache. Thanks for a fabulous recipe! 

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe TWICE this week and I’m glad it came out great for you! Glad this is your new go-to recipe!

  11. Hey Averie, these truly look from the cosmos! Absolutely heavenly! One quick question, will the 25% fat cream work for the ganache? Or would it get too runny?

    1. I think that could work but I haven’t tried so not sure. With ganache if it IS too runny, you can often times ‘save it’ by adding more chocolate.

  12. These are definitely the fudgiest brownies I have ever eaten! So moist, thick and chewy, I’m taking them to 2 of my friends who love brownies – I know they will be a hit. Thanks again, Averie, your recipes never disappoint!

    1. Thanks for the compliment on my recipes and that they don’t disappoint! And how nice of you to share with your friends – they’ll have big smiles on their faces I’m sure :)

  13. Hi Averie! Simply delicious! It’s my first time to make some brownies. Used this base with oreos and mallows, next thing was they were asking for the recipe. Thank you so much! More power!

  14. Thanks for the awesome recipe! I have my go-to brownie recipe, but love trying new ideas. The extra moisture from the brown sugar is great. I may have to change my go-to to this one!

    My sister’s birthday was this past week and she used to love cosmic brownies when she was little. So I made up these in a 9×13 for the more authentic look. It was just the right amount of ganache for the top. Then I wrapped up two little square brownies in plastic wrap, ready for the freezer. She can take out a package for her lunch. Also, I tried not to eat all of them, but it was difficult!

    1. So happy that these worked out well for you and that you’re really pleased with the recipe! Thanks for LMK! I bet your little wrapped up squares were a hit :)

  15. Made these the other day and they are delicious! I made them in a glass 9×13 pan, so they’re a little thinner, but still really good. I was unable to find instant espresso at my grocery store. Instant coffee, yes, but espresso, no. Is there a brand you recommend that I can keep an eye out for? They turned out super fudgy. So much so that getting them out of the pan in one piece can be difficult, so I’m going to try adding the additional flour next time. I’m not complaining though. I love fudgy.

    I did have one question though. What is the purpose of covering the pan in tin foil? I sprayed it, but it still sticks to the bottom of the brownies, and tears when I pull them out, so I have to be careful not to let bits of foil remain on the brownies. Is it just for clean-up purposes? Can I skip this step if using a glass pan?

    Thanks!

    1. Some brands of foil are prone to tearing; I used Reynolds Heavy Duty, it never tears. But if you want to skip the step and you find it more difficult, that’s fine. I never have an issue so cleanup is a breeze with foil for me. G

      lad you loved the brownies and all ovens and climates vary so either slightly more flour or baking longer may help, too. I use King Arthur all-purpose, it’s the best IMO and has more gluten than other brands so things set up better.

      https://www.averiecooks.com/2013/09/chocolate-peanut-butter-mocha-powerballs.html There’s a picture of the espresso in the background. It’s in the coffee aisle of most groc stores in my area in a small glass jar. Spanish label and brand and sorry that I’m not in front of it so can’t tell you exactly but the jar is unmistakeable with the bold 3-color striping.

  16. I am so happy that I found this recipe on Pinterest, been wanting to try them ever since! My daughters and I will make them over the weekend, so excited! They look so perfect, brownies are not the easiest thing to cut into! I found a trick though, I use a plastic knife :)
    Thank you for sharing:)
    ~Donika

  17. I cannot wait to make these! They look so delicious! Sundays are the only days I can have sweets because of my workout and diet :( But I’m sure these brownies are worth the wait! What brand of coffee did you use by the way?

    1. The kind I get at my regular grocery store. It has a Spanish name and comes in a small glass jar. Use any kind you want. TJs even sells it.

  18. Hi I would love to make this recipe but I wanted to know if id have to make any alterations if I was to bake it in a 9×13?

    1. You’d probably want to double the recipe but I haven’t tried it so I cannot speak for sure. Enjoy them! :)

    1. It brings out and rounds out the chocolate flavor and intensity and makes them taste richer but omit if you want to.

  19. I have tried the “store bought”ones too!! If they were TRULLY “Cosmic” brownies then they are missing an important ingredient. I mean this as a joke of course…. Alice B had the original recipe!!!

  20. made these brownies. first time i made homemade brownies that came out fudgy-ly perfect! love the time you took to get the recipe right and the photos (it tempted me into trying :) ) heading to the store after work so i can buy buttermilk for your cinnamon rolls. if you took the hassle out of yeast, you are about to become my favorite baker! thank you again!

    1. So glad that you loved these & they came out perfect for you!

      The recipe and the photos – glad you appreciate the effort :)

      And yes, buttermilk for cinn rolls, do it! Now, they do have yeast but it’s instant yeast & there’s no downtime! So…it’s as simple as a yeast roll will ever get. LMK what you think!

  21. You can also find mini M&Ms in bags like regular M&Ms. I’ve bought them from Target and Harris Teeter. :) These brownies are adorable!

  22. I’ve had these pinned forever and am preparing to make them for tailgating. Upon intense staring at the heavenly thick, chewy texture, I began to wonder… how on earth did you slice those so pretty?!? They look straight out of a Little Debbie box because the brownie and ganache could have been cut by machine they’re so crisp, straight and smooth. How did you do it?! Did you clean it up for photo shoot ;) ?

    1. It takes over an hour just to slice bars/brownies sometimes for my photo shoots. I have to clean my knife after every cut. It’s a real production :) Thanks for noticing!

  23. Things I baked were turning out hard, but I thought it might’ve been my imagination since I like things soft. But you know what? I may have measured the eggs wrong (that is, not enough). I used an egg substitute. Could that have caused what happened?

    1. YES THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!!! You have to use REAL EGGS. Not substitutes; they are generally not suitable for baking, despite what any packaging may say. Use.real.eggs. Too little egg will make things hard/overly dried out AND on top of it, those fake egg products create a super weird/hard texture. Switch to real eggs and I guarantee that’s the issue.

      1. Okay! :-) Real eggs are a bit of a pain for me because I can’t use them fast enough before they go bad. Also, I hate whisking or beating them. FWIW, I think I only used 1/3 of what I was supposed to. :-(

  24. Since I have more time than I thought I would: the brownies are more like the crunchy stuff in Dairy Queen cakes. My concern with leaving the brownies out of the fridge is that the ganache, which turned out just right, will melt. Thanks again.

  25. Something went wrong when I made these brownies – the batter looked okay but when they were supposed to be done in the oven, they were sizzling and bubbling like I haven’t seen brownies before. I refrigerated them maybe 8 hours, and they were really hard to cut. I know you said refrigerate them; do you think I should leave them out for a while before presenting them? What could I have done wrong? Thanks.

    1. I have no idea what happened during the baking process. Sizzling and bubbling like you’ve never seen does not sound normal for brownies. Do you feel like your oven temp is calibrated properly? Anything that sizzles/bubbles, then turns rock hard – usually means the internal temp got really hot (hotter than it should have) which to me sounds like your oven is running hot. And this is not a dumb question, but are you absolutely sure you measured everything 100% perfectly? Sometimes people will grab the wrong measuring cup, only to realize it LATER. The ganache should set up fine if you just leave them at room temp; the reason I like to store in the fridge is b/c they are supposed to be very, very fudgy so having a chill is nice. But if you already have hockey pucks, I probably wouldnt refrigerate (and probably wouldnt even ‘waste’ the ganache on them; I’d start over after you are sure your oven, etc are all 100%). I think it’s a fluke!

      1. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Hmm..maybe my oven is too hot. But I have no idea how to change that unless I just adjust the temperature for each recipe. I guess I can’t be sure I measured everything correctly, but I think I did. I’ve already put the ganache on the brownies, but I’ll take them out of the fridge and see what they’re like tomorrow. I’m willing to try making these again! Thank you again! :-)

      2. buy an oven thermometer…they’re like 5.99 and there’s your answer. I truly think your oven is way too hot; just by what you wrote. And then if it’s running hot, you can decrease the temp to bring it to ‘normal’. And also maybe re-measure the ingredients and yes take it out of the fridge – yours defi don’t need to be in there. They’re already firm, and then some :) LMK if you try again!

  26. 2 things: one, would salted butter work? We don’t have any and I want to make them now!!
    and two, would normal instant coffee work instead of the espresso? (we don’t have any of that, either)

    1. Salted butter I’m sure will be okay (just don’t add any of the optional salt) and normal instant coffee will be fine. It’s an optional thing anyway but does bring out the chocolate flavor and enhance it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the results. Please LMK how they go for you!

  27. This is my new favorite site, I kid you not, I have a serious addiction to sweets, and your recipes are not helping me in my goal to cut back.

  28. Wow, what a coincidence! I made this exact same recipe two years ago, right down to the part about lining the pan with foil and spraying it! Just goes to show you how the same ideas keep getting recycled. :) We love Cosmic Brownies here, but only the homemade ones. They’re so much better than store bought!

    In case you’re wondering, I have Google alerts set up for some recipes–this is one of them. That’s how I came upon your post. ;) Nice photos.

    1. Hi Elle
      I just went to your site to try to find your brownie recipe and I did. Looks like our recipes are indeed similar but yours are baked in a 9×13 pan, mine are baked in a 9×9 and yours use almost double the amount of flour that mine do. And yours use baking powder, whereas I never put leaveners in my brownies. And your recipe for ganache is different than mine, too.

      As I said in my post, I came up with them as a hybrid of 2 of my fave brownie recipes, “I created this brownie base by adapting my two favorite brownie bases, Fudgy Nutella Brownies and The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies.” (and I inserted the links in the post, see above)

      I always, always line my pans with foil. 100% of the recipes I make in a pan, I line with foil. See here, all 50+ of these recipes, I start off by lining with foil. It’s such a timesaver. Glad you do it too! https://www.averiecooks.com/category/dessert/bars

      Looks like we both like our homemade Cosmic brownies but I wanted to point out the differences in our recipes. Someone just yesterday reprinted my recipe for these on her site so yes, I agree, recipes to get recycled and reprinted and adapted, although I started my recipe off by adapting two of my own previous brownie recipes.

  29. I’ve never heard of a cosmic brownies. Yummy sounding treats don’t exist like that here in the UK but I’m glad you’ve made these little beauties. Those brownies look soo fudgy, I’m drooling at the screen.

  30. Oh boy! You’ve got my number! Cosmic brownies are my favorite thing EVER. Every time I would donate blood my “reward” to myself was a cosmic brownie that was provided by the Red Cross. (They had baskets of treats…all of your wildest little Debbie desires). Life dream = achieved.

    1. Now that Red Cross had it going on! That’s the way to get people to donate :) If you try these, LMK what you think!