Brownie Terrarium

"Layers of rich chocolate mousse, brownies, candy rocks and crackers topped with coconut “moss” and the most adorable meringue cacti."
photo by photo by
photo by photo by
photo by photo by
photo by photo by
photo by photo by
Ready In:
1hr 15mins
1 bowl


  • 4 cups chocolate mousse mix (recipe follows)
  • 12 lb candy, coated chocolate rocks
  • 2 -3 cups crumbled graham crackers
  • 2 -3 cups crumbled coconut fudge brownies (recipe follows)
  • 2 cups coconut moss to decorate brownies (recipe follows)
  • 6 -8 Cactus Meringues to decorate brownies
  • For the Mousse

  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • 14 cup heavy cream, plus 1 cup
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the Brownies

  • 8 ounces coconut oil, melted
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, cut into very small pieces (at least 70%)
  • 2 12 ounces coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
  • 2 78 ounces cocoa powder (at least 70%)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 34 cups sugar
  • For the Moss Coconut

  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 -3 drops avocado green gel food coloring


  • For the Mousse:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk to combine egg yolks, sugar and salt until thickened. In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup heavy cream over medium until bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan. Stir in chocolate and melt completely.
  • Whisk 1/3 of the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, then add back to pot with remaining melted chocolate. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk remaining 1 cup heavy cream to medium peaks. Fold cooled chocolate mixture into cream until completely combined and transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch tip. Refrigerate for 2 hours until completely chilled.
  • For the Brownies:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8-inch square baking pan nonstick baking spray and line pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving the edge of the paper overhanging slightly. This will make it easier to remove the brownies from the pan once they are cooked and cooled.
  • Melt the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring gently. Once completely melted, remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate. Stir until fully combined and melted.
  • In a large bowl, whisk to combine the coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use an electric whisk, and beat until light and creamy. Alternatively you can do this by hand using a bit of elbow grease! Add the sugar and continue to beat until all is incorporated.
  • Gradually add the melted chocolate and oil mixture to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking the whole time. Gently fold in the coconut flour mixture, making sure everything is well incorporated, but trying not to knock out any air.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan, level out and dust with an extra sprinkle of sea salt.
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted around the outside of the cake comes out clean. The very middle can still be pretty squidgy – you want to take it out when it’s slightly underbaked, so that it stays super-gooey and moist. Cool in the tray before cutting.
  • For the coconut moss.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine coconut and food coloring gel until coconut is a light green “moss” color. Spread onto prepared baking sheet and let dry.
  • Directions:

  • Fill a large piping bag with chocolate mousse. Pipe mousse into bottom of terrarium and use a spoon or offset spatula to smooth and fill in the gaps around the edges.
  • Top mousse with candy rocks, then graham crackers, crumbled brownies and coconut moss. Place cacti in terrarium to finish.

Questions & Replies

  1. For the cacti terrarium, what are chocolate rocks and where can I find them? Thanks!


  1. Fun and simple recipe for making a truly tricky terrarium! Only problem is that it looks so good that I felt pangs when breaking it up to eat it! Great recipe to make with kids, as long as you make the merangue cacti and chill the mousse first. They can then do almost all the assembling, except for piping in the chocolate mousse, which needs to be done neatly. Let the kids make the graham crackers into "sand," because they'll like doing the preliminary crushing, and they can press the pulse button on the food processor. (An adult needs to handle the blades, etc. If you don't have a food processor, the kids can just crush the graham crackers until it looks sand-like) Using a good chocolate for the mousse is essential, as that is the most powerful flavor in the whole thing. Also, if you cannot find chocolate rocks, puffed rice cereal makes a convincing pebble layer. All in all, a very clever and fun way to spend an afternoon.


  1. If you're pressed for time and don't need to worry about gluten, you can buy premade brownies at the store bakery (or use a mix if you have a little time, but not much) and crunch them up. Any extra brownies can be used for "quality control" purposes by the chef and her helpers. If you have many helpers and everyone wants his own terrarium, smaller versions of the bowls used in the picture are widely available at craft stores for a small amount of money. Make a few more cacti so that everyone has a couple to put in their creation.


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