Apr 232015

Frosted Brownies

Sometimes I keep semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand, and sometimes I don’t. The dairy-free ones (Ghirardelli and Enjoy Life) cost a lot more than store-brand chocolate chips, which almost always have some dairy in them. When I do buy chocolate chips I try to use them for specific purposes, such as chocolate chip cookie bars.

Some cake, bar and dessert recipes call for melted chocolate chips as a quick frosting. While I appreciate the time savings, I find the cost to be prohibitive, which has frustrated many of my attempts at baking.

Eventually it occurred to me that if chocolate chips are used as a topping or frosting, I could simply use homemade frosting in those recipes, instead of chocolate chips. First I tried my regular recipe for chocolate frosting, but it was overly sweet and fluffy. What I really needed was a frosting which mimicked the dense, semi-sweet nature of melted chocolate chips. After a bit of kitchen experimenting, I came up with this recipe.

The kids loved it, and it tasted almost exactly like the semi-sweet chocolate chips I was trying to replace. Now I use it in all of my recipes that called for melted chocolate chips as a topping for brownies, bars or cake.

There are a few differences to be aware of. Most desserts with melted chocolate chips on top require that you put the chocolate chips onto the dessert while it is still hot. This allows the chocolate chips to melt so they may be spread over the top of the dessert. When replacing chocolate chips with this frosting you should allow the dessert to cool somewhat before spreading. The frosting will melt and become runny if you try to apply it while the dessert is still hot.

Secondly, this frosting is not meant to replace chocolate chips in recipes where they are used whole, such as chocolate chip cookies. Although it should be noted that you can frost plain cookies with this frosting and the flavor is quite similar to chocolate chip cookies.

Nor is this recipe meant to replace melted chocolate as a coating for homemade candy. Once again it can frost the top of a piece of candy, but it cannot coat it and harden the way chocolate chips will.

With it’s limitations in mind, I have found this recipe especially useful and, surprisingly, have not seen it in any other cookbooks or even on the web. It’s my children’s favorite chocolate frosting, especially for cookies and bars. If you wanted to use it to frost a layer cake, I would double the recipe. As written the recipe makes about the same amount of topping as a 12-ounce package of chocolate chips.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Frosting


  • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons dairy-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar


In a medium sized bowl combine all of the ingredients. Start off with 3-tablespoons of milk. If the frosting is too thick to spread then add more milk, 1/4 to 1/2-teaspoon at a time, to make it appropriate spreading consistency. Spread onto cooled brownies, bars, cookies or cake.

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