A quick and easy recipe for Hocus Pocus brownies. These fun spellbook brownies are a super simple treat for the Halloween season - taking inspiration from the iconic spellbook in the Hocus Pocus films.
For the Brownies
- Flour - all purpose flour or plain flour will work in this recipe.
- Cocoa powder - dutch processed will give the richest chocolate flavour to your recipes.
- Sugar - either superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar.
- Powdered sugar - also known as icing sugar or confectioner's sugar.
- Brown sugar - light brown sugar, sometimes called muscovado, firmly packed.
- Oil - a flavorless oil, such as canola or sunflower oil.
- Water - a couple of tablespoons.
- Eggs - for baking, it is best for these to be room temperature.
- Vanilla extract
- Milk chocolate chunks - you can substitute with chocolate chips chops more finely if preferred. Alternatively, use a different type of chocolate (dark or white) or another add in such as peanut butter or salted caramel chips.
For the Decoration
- Heavy cream - sometimes referred to as double cream. The type of cream used for whipping.
- Chocolate - small chips or finely chopped to ensure smooth melting.
- Edible eyes - probably the key to the spellbook brownie look, you'll need little edible eyes. You can make these out of fondant, but for the sake of ease, they're available in most stores, especially around Halloween.
Making the Brownies
To make the brownies, this will follow the same basic process as my other recipes. Begin by lining an 8" square baking tray with parchment paper. You can use a 9" square, but just note that the baking times may vary slightly as the brownies will be thinner (spread over a larger pan).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - the oil, water, eggs and vanilla. No need to whisk loads, just break down the eggs a bit so that your mixture is emulsified.
Next add in your dry ingredients. An easy way to do this is to sift all dry ingredients together straight into the bowl of wet ingredients. This will let you remove any solid lumps (particularly or brown sugar or powdered sugar) and mix the ingredients together at the same time.
Using a spatula mix everything together until just combined. Then stir in the chocolate chunks.
Pour into your lined pan and spread into the corners to make an even layer - this is a very thick batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out mostly clean. For fudgy brownies, you don't want the toothpick completely clean or this will mean that the insides will be dry.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely - at least 2 hours - before cutting.
Decorating Spellbook Brownies
When it comes to decorating your brownies, your main tools will be:
- Edible eyes
Quick Chocolate Ganache
To make the ganache, simply heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. I like to let mine simmer for about 2 minutes to ensure the cream is well warmed through.
Pour this over your chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This wait time enables the chocolate to start breaking down, which means it will melt more evenly when you mix it.
After two minutes, stir to a smooth ganache. Set this aside for about an hour or two at room temperature to allow it to firm up into a pipeable consistency. This will vary dependent on your kitchen temperature (which, in my case, is very dependent on the time of year and weather!).
Assembling Brownie Spell Books
Once your brownies are cool, slice into 12 pieces (see image 1 below).
Place your ganache in a piping bag or a plastic bag with sharp corners. Cut off the tip to make a small piping hole - about ⅛ inch wide.
Start by placing your edible eyes on the brownies, using a tiny dab of the ganache on the back of the eye. For the Hocus Pocus spell book look - the eye should be placed halfway down the right side of the brownie, leaving a little room for a ring of ganache around it.
Then, using the ganache, pipe a ring around the eye. There's no need for perfection here - the spellbook from Hocus Pocus is a living thing, and there is lots of room for unevenness!
Then pipe a book binding down the left side. I do this by making a zig-zag of ganache (about a quarter inch wide) down the side, pipe a straight line over top of this and then another zig-zag. This creates the illusion of a weave in the binding.
Finally pipe a quick decorative embellishment on the right side corners - I do this with a semi-circle and a line over top (the design can be seen in image 2 below).
Hocus Pocus brownies are brownies with a decorative topping mimicking the spellbook in the Hocus Pocus movies.
My recipe for these Hocus Pocus book brownies is for a fudgy chocolate brownie with milk chocolate chunks and ganache decoration. This means that they are triple chocolate - full of fudgy goodness and a fun decoration perfect for a spooky party or Halloween!
These easy Hocus Pocus brownies keep for about 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
They can also be frozen. To freeze, bake and assemble as directed. Once you've decorated with the ganache, allow the ganache to set at room temperature for a couple of hours before carefully placing in a single layer on a lined freezer safe tray. Place in the freezer until solid (a couple of hours) and then transfer to a more convenient bag to keep for up to 3 months. Defrost before serving (taking care to place in a single layer to preserve decoration).
The brownies can also be frozen undecorated if you want to decorate nearer the time of serving.
The key to spell book brownies is in the decoration! This decoration uses a simple homemade ganache and store-bought edible candy eyes to achieve the design.
This design doesn't require precision and takes minutes to achieve. You don't need a piping bag or nozzles. In fact, you can use any plastic sandwich bag as long as this has a sharp corner, which can be used as your piping tip.
Looking for more fall flavours? Try:
- No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake with S'mores Topping
- Pumpkin Pecan Bread
- Cinnamon Pound Cake
- Apple Pie Cinnamon Buns
Hocus Pocus Brownies
- 8" square baking tray
- large mixing bowl
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoon water
- ½ cup flavorless oil such as canola oil or sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar or light brown muscovado sugar
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar/confectioners sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 oz milk chocolate chunks or chips
Ingredients for Ganache and Decoration
- ⅓ cup heavy cream or double cream
- 3 oz dark chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
- 12 edible candy eyes
Instructions for Fudgy Chocolate Chunk Brownies
- Begin by lining your square pan with parchment paper and preheating an oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - the eggs, water, oil and vanilla - until emulsified.
- Sift the dry ingredients together into the mixing bowl on top of the wet ingredients. This is the sugars, flour, cocoa and salt.
- Mix the dry into the wet using a spatula, stirring until just combined. Then add the milk chocolate chunks and stir to incorporate.
- Pour the thick batter into your lined baking tray and spread into an even layer.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick. When this is inserted into the centre and comes out mostly clean (but not entirely), your brownies are done.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (at least two hours) before removing from the pan and slicing.
Instructions for Ganache
- Meanwhile, make your ganache. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat until simmering.
- Pour this over the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and allow to sit for two minutes, then stir until smooth.
- Set aside for an hour or so, until the brownies are ready and the ganache is thick enough to be pipe-able.
Instructions for Assembly
- Put the ganache in a piping bag or a plastic bag with sharp corners. Cut the tip off the bag leaving about a ⅛" opening.
- Slice the brownies into 12 rectangles (see image in the blog post).
- Fix a candy eye to each of the brownie slices, using a small amount of ganache to hold these in place. For the Hocus Pocus spell book design, place the eye about halfway down (lengthwise) on the right side of the brownie.
- Pipe a ganache ring around the candy eye.
- Then pipe a line down the lefthand side for the book binding - I do this by making a zigzag line (about ¼" wide), then a straight line overlaying and top with another zigzag. See the image in the blog post. Alternatively simply pipe a line or a zigzag or ganache.
- Finally pipe a couple of clasps on the right side corners. I do this by piping semi circles crossed with a straight line (as in the images in the post).