Every year, from late September through the end of the holiday season, I fall victim to the siren song of weird internet recipes. An otherwise reasonable person who knows a gimmick when they see one, I spend autumn and winter in a sort of fugue state, easily convinced to turn chocolate-covered pretzels into cute reindeer and test unholy flavor combinations in the interest of using up leftover Halloween candy. This is how I found myself down the rabbit hole of Sour Patch Kids baked goods.
It started with some passing mentions on Pinterest, which caused me to go deep on Google, which led me to buying a family-sized bag of Sour Patch Kids. There it was, on the back of the bag, endorsed by the brand itself: “Sour Patch Cookies, it’s a thing.” The recipe was a basic soft sugar cookie dough with those sour-then-sweet gummies baked directly into the cookies.
I was more intrigued, though, by the fact that people on the internet were combining sour gummy candy with chocolate. Sour chocolate is not usually a combination one looks for, but then I thought about the fact that balsamic vinegar on chocolate ice cream is not so bad, and the idea seemed a little less outlandish.
Initially, I planned to bake a batch of brownies with Sour Patch Kids pressed into the batter, but after discussing it with a few sour candy aficionados in my friend group, I decided to rethink my strategy. Sour Patch Kids get their sourness from a coating of citric acid, which, if baked into a wet batter, would simply melt and disperse into the dough. The kids would look like blobs, not adorable candy troublemakers, and I wouldn’t get the contrast of flavors and textures I was looking for.
My thoughts drifted to Cosmic Brownies, the Little Debbie snack cake that always made me a little giddy when I found it in my lunchbox. While they’re decidedly not sour, Cosmic Brownies have a texture that lives just at the intersection of fudge and cake, and the chocolate ganache frosting would be a perfect vehicle for sour gummy candy. So I decided to focus on creating an approximation of Cosmic Brownies, but with the flavor profile of dark chocolate rather than milk. I figured the bitterness would help neutralize the bracing sour of the citric acid, allowing the fruity flavors of the gummies to come forward.
I was pleased to find that my hypothesis was spot-on. Pressed into still-warm chocolate ganache topping, the Sour Patch Kids offer a hit of acidity, fascinating textural contrast, and a surprisingly pleasant complement to the mellow dark chocolate flavor. These brownies will be a hit with any kid (or kid at heart) who loves weird food, but they’d also be right at home at a Halloween cocktail party. Don’t believe me? Try them, if you dare.
Makes 8x8" pan of brownies
- ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 5 Tbsp. melted butter
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 Tbsp. warm water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1½ cups chopped dark chocolate, 70% or higher
- Sour Patch Kids, to garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. To get your parchment paper to lay flat, a good trick is to crumple it into a ball first, then smooth it back out and into your pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and water.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dries and fold until just combined. The batter should be fairly smooth and quite thick. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, until just set.
- While the brownies are cooling, warm heavy cream and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. When all of the chocolate has started to melt, remove from heat and continue stirring until you have a smooth, uniform ganache.
- Pour the ganache over the brownies, spreading evenly. Press Sour Patch Kids into the ganache. Let cool completely before slicing.
- Melted vegetable shortening or coconut oil can be substituted for butter.
- You can use sour gummy worms for this recipe, but it’s really best with Sour Patch Kids, as they have a more balanced flavor profile.
- If you use only red Sour Patch Kids on these brownies, you get a freakishly good approximation of black forest cake.