Cakey Brownies Are Not Useless: 10 Tasty Ideas, Plus a Recipe

In spite of what you might think, cakey brownies are not completely useless.

Listen, I don't think that cakey brownies are any real prize all by themselves. Give me a fudgy brownie any day, with chewy taking second place.

Cakey brownies? Not too much use for them. So why, why, why do they continue existing? 

Well, as you know, I am very into yoga and part of all that om-ing is cultivating acceptance and understanding. And after much thought, I have come to see the light on cakey brownies. I have realized that they are far from useless. No, I'm not going to be reaching for them as a stand-alone dessert course, probably ever, but they are a fantastic component in more involved desserts. 

This is not an insult: rather, it's an epiphany about the role that cakey brownies can play in my dessert-loving life. The cakey brownie has a unique texture, more dense than a spongey cake, but not so dense that it is hard to handle; this makes it a great player when constructing more complex desserts. 

10 Ways to Use Cakey Brownies

Don't just eat that cakey brownie: amp it up in one of these creative ways!

As the base for Baked Alaska

Cakey brownies are actually a great base for Baked Alaska: absorbent enough for the ice cream on top, but not too heavy. Perfect. 

As the base for bombes

Ditto with bombes, which are basically the wider category including Baked Alaska but also non-meringue coated frozen desserts; cakey brownies make a great base. I made some bombes recently with a cakey brownie as the base, and they came out splendidly. A thick, fudgy brownie would not have worked quite as well with the mousse; the cakey brownie acted like a sponge, sopping up flavor yet acting as a sturdy base. 

As part of a trifle

Cakey brownies are a great component in a trifle. Since they are spongier, they're a better medium for sopping up the flavor of the cream and fruit in trifle. 

As a creamy dessert accessory

I think that a great fudgy brownie should be enjoyed all by itself, perhaps with a glass of milk, but otherwise unadorned. The cakey brownie, however, is a different thing. It's a great canvas to pair with pudding, mousse, ice cream, or custard. 

As cake layers

Listen up: instead of chocolate cake, bake a couple pans' worth of cakey brownies and use them as cake layers. They're more substantial than many chocolate layer cake recipes, and are firm enough to hold their shape when frosted. 

As the inside of petits fours

Spongey yet firm, cakey brownies are an ideal midsection for petits-fours: easy to cut and shape and stack, yet absorbent enough to take on the flavors of the fillings you add. 

Poke brownies!

You know poke cakes. Why not try the same method with cakey brownies? I can only imagine how delicious cakey brownies would be if poked all over and doused with a sweetened condensed milk mixture like in this poke cake recipe

As pancake batter 

Instead of whipping up pancake batter, use the cakey brownie batter for your next short stack. It's guaranteed to make pleasant morning memories for all. 

For sculpting cakes 

If you are making a cake that requires sculpting, cakey brownies might be just the ticket. They are fairly malleable and don't flake too incredibly much, so you can cut and shape them for dimensional cake creations. 


For cake pops 

Brownies are slightly denser than a typical yellow or chocolate cake, so they are ideal for cake pops. Cake pops are so small that they can afford a little extra decadence, and the brownies will deliver. Simply swap cakey brownies for the cake called for in cake pop recipes.

Easy Cakey Brownies

This cakey brownie recipe is an ideal base. It is made with olive oil, which gives it an interesting taste. Makes one 8x8-inch tray. Printable recipe here.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, cocoa, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Not the prettiest part of the process. More like modern art.

Add the flour and salt. Mix gently at this point, only until you see no more white streaks of flour. 

Pour into your prepared pan, and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and let cool to room temperature. You can invert the brownies out of the pan or cut them right in the pan. 

Do you like cakey brownies?