Fudgy and intensely dark chocolate Spider Web Brownies! These rich black cocoa brownies are filled with dark chocolate chips and topped with easy marshmallow spider webs. Add some candy eyes for a eerie finishing touch!
- Why you'll love these spooky brownies
- Equipment Notes
- Ingredient Notes for Black Cocoa Brownies
- Ingredient Notes for Marshmallow Webs
- How to Make Spider Web Brownies
- Tips and Tricks for this Treat
- Advice on Slicing
- Black Cocoa versus Normal Cocoa
- Variations and Substitutions
- Baking in Different Pans
- Storage Advice
- Freezer Tips
- More Spooktacular Treats
- Spider Web Brownies
Why you'll love these spooky brownies
- Easy recipe - this recipe uses standard kitchen tools and basic techniques for a quick and easy family-friendly spooky season bake!
- Marshmallow webs - the easiest way to add an eerie touch to your recipe! Spider webs made from marshmallows use just one ingredient and take minutes to create a spooktacular showstopper.
- Black cocoa brownies - the perfect contrast to the webs, these carbon black cocoa brownies are naturally dyed with black cocoa to give a deep dark base to your decoration.
- Dark chocolate chips - these brownies are loaded with dark chocolate chips, some melted right into the batter and even more dotted throughout the brownies. The ultimate fudgy dark chocolate brownie!
- Small saucepan and heatproof bowl - essentially, you want a double boiler to melt the chocolate down. This can be done with a saucepan and a heatproof bowl that fits snuggly on top. It shouldn't sit so deep into the bowl that it touches the bottom as you'll need a couple of inches spare for water, but it will need to sit far enough in that the base is well warmed. You will also need a small saucepan for the marshmallow topping.
- Mixing bowl - a large mixing bowl for the brownie batter.
- A whisk - I prefer to use a balloon whisk for this recipe.
- Rubber spatula
- 8" square baking pan - you can use a 9" pan, but then your brownies will be a bit thinner and may bake more quickly.
- Parchment paper - I highly recommend lining your baking pan with two overlapping pieces of parchment paper, allowing these to overhang the edges. This will allow for easier removal of the bake when ready.
Ingredient Notes for Black Cocoa Brownies
To make these fudgy black cocoa brownies, you'll need:
- Dark chocolate chips - or finely chopped dark chocolate. I recommend using approximately 70% dark chocolate for the richest chocolate flavor. Half of the chocolate will be melted for the batter and the other half added to the brownies as chips.
- Oil - a flavorless oil, such as canola oil or sunflower oil work best. You can use olive oil, however, this does have a strong flavor that will come through in the final bake.
- Eggs - large eggs, ideally at room temperature. You'll need two eggs and one yolk for this recipe. Egg whites freeze well for use later.
- Vanilla extract
- Flour - all purpose of plain flour.
- Black cocoa powder - you can use normal cocoa powder here, however, if you're going for my ultra deep dark brownie base, the black cocoa is essential! This gives a carbon black finish to the brownies, contrasting brilliantly with the webs! Plus it is a super intense flavor combo with the dark chocolate.
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar - firmly packed measurements.
- Powdered sugar - or icing sugar.
Ingredient Notes for Marshmallow Webs
The webbing on these brownies couldn't be simpler. You only need one ingredients:
You can use mini or jumbo marshmallows. The only difference will be in the precise time it takes for these to break down in melting. Larger marshmallows tend to take a bit longer.
For best results, I recommend using fresh marshmallows.
How to Make Spider Web Brownies
Follow these steps to make intense dark chocolate brownies covered in marshmallow spider webs:
1. Start by lining your square baking pan with parchment paper and pre-heating your over to 350°F.
2. Place half of your chocolate chips (6oz) into a heatproof bowl and set this over a saucepan of simmering water. This should fit snuggly. Avoid letting the water touch the base of the bowl, but allow this to carry on simmering on a medium-low heat on the stovetop while you melt the chocolate.
3. While the chocolate is melting, whisk the oil, vanilla, eggs and yolk together in a large mixing bowl.
4. Once the chocolate has melted, let this cool for a couple of minutes and then slowly add to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. You want to avoid scrambling the eggs with too hot chocolate!
5. Next add the granulated and brown sugar to the mixture and sift the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt into the mix. Stir together with a spatula until just combined in a thick batter.
6. Add the remaining chocolate chips to the batter and fold to incorporate.
7. Spoon this into your lined baking pan and spread evenly.
8. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
9. Remove and allow to cool completely in the pan for about an hour or two.
10. When the brownies are cool, melt the marshmallows in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat until smooth.
11. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes until you are able to handle the marshmallow.
12. Pinch a bit of melted marshmallow with one hand and then pinch this with your other, pulling the marshmallow apart. The stretching action will create a spider web effect. Drape this over your brownies letting it cling to the edges to hold in place. Repeat until you've added as much webbing as you like!
13. Top off with some edible eyes or other ghoulish candy decorations. Slice and serve!
Tips and Tricks for this Treat
- Line your pan - this helps prevent the brownies from sticking and lets you lift them clean out of the pan when ready.
- Avoid overbaking the brownies - you want to remove these from the oven when the toothpick still comes out with a few specks on it. If the toothpick is completely clean, then the brownies may have a bit more of a dry or cake-like consistency. To avoid disappointment, test after about 25 minutes.
- Be patient and let these cool before trying to decorate or cut. Hot fudgy brownies sound appealing, but fresh from the oven, the insides of these will be a molten mess. You will also struggle to coat warm brownies with marshmallow webs as the heat is likely to melt the marshmallow down.
- If your marshmallow starts hardening up, while you're making your webs, you can reheat this. Just remember to allow to cool a little before sticking your hand in hot melted marshmallow!
Advice on Slicing
Cutting brownies can be a messy experience at the best of times, but add in marshmallow spider webs and you're in for some stickiness!
For best results, you're going to want to do this slowly:
- Use a long, sharp knife.
- Grease the knife with oil to help minimize the sticking.
- Cut straight down and avoid dragging the knife through the brownies. Pulling the knife will encourage bits to stick and crumble.
- Rinse and re-grease frequently. For the cleanest cuts, you'll want to rinse and re-grease after each cut.
Black Cocoa versus Normal Cocoa
So what is black cocoa you may ask? Well, it is a super deep and intense cocoa powder that has been dutch-processed and treated with an alkaline solution to minimize acidity.
Black cocoa will give your bake a deep dark almost carbon black appearance, all naturally without food dyes.
You can use normal cocoa powder in this recipe, but the brownies will be a lighter shade of brown, so you will lose out on the intensity of the contrast.
In terms of flavor there is debate as to whether normal cocoa or black cocoa is more chocolatey. This is largely a personal preference.
Variations and Substitutions
These brownies are open to variations and substitutions to fit your tastes and needs. Some of my tips for making alterations in this recipe:
- You can use the type of cocoa powder you have available. Don't feel that these spider web brownies can only be made with black cocoa! It's my preferred option for aesthetic reasons and I like the flavor. But you can absolutely make this with normal cocoa as a direct substitution.
- Butter instead of oil - there's a debate as to whether oil or butter is better in brownies. Personally the jury is still out on that! I tend to use oil. If you want to substitute with butter, you'll want to melt the butter down with the chocolate in the double boiler. Otherwise, treat it the same.
- If you need to make this gluten free, I have not personally tested the recipe with gluten flours. If you have a tried and trusted brand that you substitute with regularly, give it a try here!
- Decorative finish - I added some edible candy eyes for a spooky topping. They stick to the marshmallow easily! You can also add other candies, like candy corn, candy spiders, gummy worms, etc.
Baking in Different Pans
In general you can bake this recipe in various size and shape pan. The different pans will result in different baking times, some with more or less impact on the overall character of the brownies.
As a general rule of thumb:
- The larger the pan (or greater the surface area) the more shallow the batter will be and the quicker it will bake.
- The smaller the pan, the deeper the batter will be and therefore the slower to cook through in the center. Be careful as too small a pan will lead to the top burning before the center cooks.
These brownies keep well for several days!
For best results, keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. The refrigerator will stale them more quickly and will likely cause the spider webs to melt down.
Avoid wrapping the tops of these tightly or stacking directly on top of each other as the marshmallow will stick. If you need to stack, use parchment to try to minimize them clinging to each other!
You can freeze these brownies - I've had mixed success with freezing marshmallow webs. During the defrosting process, you may find that these become a bit runny/sweaty.
In practice, to freeze the brownies, the best option is to first flash freeze by placing in a single layer on a freezer safe plate or tray. Place this in the freezer until the brownies are hardened. They can then be stored more efficiently in bags. Due to the marshmallows, which remain slightly soft in the freezer, I tend to still avoid stacking with anything heavy.
Defrost on the counter before serving.
There's a few options for adding a spider web pattern to brownies and other bakes. You can use buttercream to pipe delicate webs or for a more realistic and organic look - marshmallows!
This recipe includes melted marshmallows pulled by hand to look like spider webs across the brownies. The same technique is used in my Halloween Cinnamon Roll Recipe.
These fudgy dark chocolate and black cocoa brownies last well for several days (about a week) at room temperature. It is best to store these in an airtight container to preserve freshness and avoid stacking for the sake of stickiness.
How well the brownies last will depend on the conditions in your kitchen - particularly humid areas may find that the marshmallow sweats and melts.
So, firstly, I should note that this is a recipe developed for dark chocolate loaded black cocoa brownies. That said, I know that dark chocolate isn't for everyone and you also might just not have it in the cupboard!
You can make this recipe as written substituting the black cocoa for normal cocoa and using semi-sweet or even milk chocolate in the mix.
Black cocoa is not itself any more of a 'dark chocolate' than other cocoas - it is deeply colored because of the alkalizing process.
More Spooktacular Treats
Spider Web Brownies
- small saucepan and heatproof bowl A DIY double boiler - the bowl should fit snuggly on top of the pan. It shouldn't sit so deep into the bowl that it touches the bottom as you'll need a couple of inches spare for water, but it will need to sit far enough in that the base is well warmed. You will also need a small saucepan for the marshmallow topping.
- large mixing bowl
- 8" square baking pan
- Parchment paper
Ingredients for Black Cocoa Brownies
- 12 oz dark chocolate chips 70% dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate will work here. The amount is divided in half in the recipe.
- ½ cup oil flavorless oil such as canola oil or sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs ideally at room temperature
- 1 egg yolk also at room temperature
- ¾ cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ¼ cup black cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar or caster sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
Ingredients for Marshmallow Webs and Decoration
- 3 oz marshmallows mini or normal marshmallows will work here
- edible candy eyes or other decorative candies
- Start by lining your square baking pan with parchment paper and pre-heating your over to 350°F.
- Place half of your chocolate chips (6oz) into a heatproof bowl and set this over a saucepan of simmering water. This should fit snuggly. Avoid letting the water touch the base of the bowl, but allow this to carry on simmering on a medium-low heat on the stovetop while you melt the chocolate.
- While the chocolate is melting, whisk the oil, vanilla, eggs and yolk together in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the chocolate has melted smooth, let this cool for a couple of minutes and then slowly add to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. You want to avoid scrambling the eggs with too hot chocolate!
- Next add the granulated and brown sugar to the mixture and sift the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt into the mix. Stir this together with a spatula until just combined in a thick batter.
- Add the remaining chocolate chips to the batter and fold to incorporate.
- Spoon this into your lined baking pan and spread evenly.
- Bake in the center of the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
- Remove and allow to cool completely in the pan for about an hour or two.
- When the brownies are cool, melt the marshmallows in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat until smooth.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes until you are able to handle the marshmallow - it will be warm, but shouldn't be so hot to the touch that it burns!
- Pinch a bit of melted marshmallow with one hand and then pinch this with your other, pulling the marshmallow apart. The stretching action will create a spider web effect. Drape this over your brownies letting it cling to the edges to hold in place. Repeat until you've added as much webbing as you like!
- Top off with some edible eyes or other ghoulish candy decorations. Slice and serve!