My all time favorite Christmas tradition is driving around and looking at all the pretty Christmas light displays. I secretly wish we had light displays year round, but I guess just having them at Christmastime will have to do.
Christmas Lights Brownies look like they have a string of lights spread out on top of a layer of icing.
They make an adorable and tasty way to celebrate the season.
This might “date” me a little, but in the mid 90s I remember our mid sized suburban town getting our own Christmas lights display. The claim to our town’s fame is that it’s the largest animated lights display in a 5 state region. We try to go see them every year and honestly it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without seeing the “Holiday Lights Spectacular”.
It’s traditions like these that help bond us together at Christmastime. Who knew that the little girl that welcomed the lights in 1995 would be bringing her husband and kids to see it over 20 years later? My kids right now think I am kind of crazy for loving the light display so much, but I hope it’s a tradition that they will love with their own kids too someday.
The kids loved helping me decorate these brownies! I made these using candy coated sunflower seeds from Amazon for the lights and chocolate melting candy for the string. I love the candy coated sunflower seeds because they are so colorful and have all the colors that multi colored strings of lights have. Sunflower seeds are also the perfect shape as Christmas lights.
If you can’t find candy coated sunflower seeds; use regular or mini M&Ms pressed into the icing on their sides as lights, but the sunflower seeds work the best for this. What do chocolate covered sunflower seeds taste like? They taste a lot like chocolate covered peanuts! Sunflower seeds also make a great alternative to peanuts or tree nuts for those that have nut allergies.
The candy coated sunflower seeds also taste great with brownies since they are coated with chocolate. We love to add in extra chocolate chips into our brownie batter for the best tasting brownies! We are definitely a chocolate loving family. I almost made the icing chocolate, but I decided that a white icing would look the best to display all the colors.
The icing is a basic decorators buttercream recipe that I like to use when icing cakes or brownies. I am including this recipe in the directions below. It’s important to use a decorators icing so that you can smooth the top to put your decorations on. There are many ways that you can flavor a buttercream too.
Here are some flavor add in suggestions for buttercream icing:
- Peppermint. A few drops of peppermint oil tastes great in this recipe for a peppermint buttercream.
- Almond Extract. We love the rich taste of almond extract and it tastes great in this recipe!
- Lemon or Orange extract. Surprise your brownie loving friends with a fun citrus twist and put a few drops of lemon or orange extract in the buttercream. Citrus actually works really well with anything chocolate.
- Mint extract. This is different than peppermint and extracts labeled as mint extract are usually spearmint. This is more of the chocolate mint taste like an Andes mint.
- Berry flavors. Berry flavorings like strawberries and raspberries also taste great in this recipe, but look out for extracts that also have color in them. Make sure whatever extracts you are using are clear or really light in color.
This might just be my favorite Christmas dessert ever. Plus, it’s super easy to make!
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Christmas Lights Brownies
For the brownies:
- 1 box Family sized Brownies prepared in a 9x13 pan
For the icing:
- 4 cups or more of powdered sugar you might need more powdered sugar if mixture is too wet.
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or palm shortening
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 Tbsp. milk
- 1 dash salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or other flavor extract
- 1 cup melting chocolates
- 2 cups candy coated sunflower seeds in multiple colors
- Prepare the brownies according to the box directions in a 9x13 pan and let them cool completely in the pan. Leave them in the pan or turn them out onto a prepared cake board. You'll want to make sure to grease and flour the pan if you want them on a cake board instead of in the pan.
- You will need to use an electric mixer for the next step. In the bowl of a a stand mixer or large bowl add the butter and shortening first. Beat the mixture with an electric hand or stand mixer on high. Turn the mixer off and add in 1/4 of the powdered sugar. Turn on the mixer to a low setting and stir until the powdered sugar is combined.
- Add in the salt, milk and extract. Keep stirring it all on low and add in another 1/4 of the powdered sugar until combined. Once the powdered sugar is stirred in then add the rest of the powdered sugar slowly.
- Once ALL the powdered sugar is combined then whip the mixture on high for a few minutes and check the consistency. If the icing is too wet and runny then add in another cup of the powdered sugar. If not, then you are finished and ready to ice the brownies!
- Add a 1/4 inch thick layer of icing to the top of the brownies. Smooth out the icing with a spatula (an offset spatula is the best). Get it as smooth as you like and then proceed to the decorations.
- Melt the chocolates according to the package directions. If there are no directions then melt the chocolate on high in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds then stir the chocolates. Keep melting the chocolates for 10 seconds in the microwave and stir every time until the chocolate is smooth. Do not overcook the chocolates!
- Pour the melted chocolates into a piping bag and cut just the tip off the bag for piping the "light string" on top of the icing. Pipe out your design onto the top of the icing using a few swirls and turns.
- Next, add the candy coated sunflower seeds on top of the chocolate string in an even design. I used a one up/ one down design for mine, but you can make them all turn down or up if you want. With a little help you can even have the kids help with these too! Enjoy!