We get it. The days are hectic and the evenings somehow even more so. When it comes to making a dessert for a party or bake sale, sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day! That’s where box brownie mix comes in handy. It’s quick and easy to whip up a batch of brownies, and who’s going to complain about delicious, fudgy chocolate squares? Not us. However, if you want to up your box brownie game while still making a quick, easy dessert, check out these tips! Try out a few the next time you grab the box brownie mix at the store.
Replace Water With Coffee
Instead of water, use strong, black coffee in your brownies to enhance the flavor. The bitter, earthy notes of the coffee will actually deepen the flavor of your brownie and bring out the richness of the chocolate! If you don’t want to wait for the coffee to brew, you can add one teaspoon of espresso powder or instant coffee crystals to get that same, rich flavor.
Use Pie Filling
Um… brilliant! Why have we never thought of this before?! Grab a can of your favorite pie filling and add it to your brownies once the batter is spread out in the pan. Drop the pie filling directly on top of the brownies and then swirl to combine. Pie fillings to try out – strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and even pineapple with some coconut sprinkles if you’re feeling a bit adventurous.
Add Cookie Pieces
What’s better than a brownie? A cookie within a brownie. It’s truly the best kind of inception. There’s no way to do this wrong, just grab a box of your favorite cookies from the grocery store bakery and crumble them up. You can mix the cookie pieces right into the batter, sprinkle them on top, or pour half the batter into the baking dish, pour the cookie pieces on top, and then cover with the second half of the batter for a fun cookie surprise in the middle! Chocolate chip cookies work great, as well as Oreos, snickerdoodles, sugar cookies… the sky is the limit here!
Use Cookie Cutters
If you’re not the type who enjoys mix-ins with your brownies, we’ve got you covered. You can still keep your brownie-purist ways and still add a little flare with cookie cutters! Just wait until the brownies are cooled and then instead of cutting squares, use cookie cutters for fun shapes. You can frost them afterward like you would sugar cookies, or just leave them plain if you’re really, really against anything extra in/on your brownies.
When in doubt, under bake your brownies. We’re not talking anything crazy here, just shave a couple of minutes off of the recommended baking time. The end result will be decadent, rich, fudgy brownies, and all you had to do was take them out early! Personally, we do this every time we bake brownies. There’s nothing worse than a dried-out brownie!
Most brownie recipes don’t call for any extracts, which is a crying shame! It’s hardly any extra effort to add a teaspoon or two of extracts to the mix, which is why we do this almost every time, whether the recipe calls for it or not. In fact, even if it does, we usually double the recommended amount, at least if it’s something mild like vanilla. Vanilla extract is a safe place to start, but if you’re ready to try something a little more fun, experiment with almond, coconut, peppermint, or even orange extract! 1 teaspoon should be enough, but of course, if you try it and decide you want a stronger flavor, feel free to add some more next time.
We all know and love cookie sandwiches, so why not do the same with brownies? The trick is to bake your brownies in a larger pan so they are thinner than normal. Then cut your squares and make your sandwiches with whatever filling sounds good. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, buttercream frosting, even peanut butter and jelly! This is such a fun and different way to serve brownies, and yet so simple.
Part of what we love about cooking and baking is learning about what all of the different ingredients do. Eggs, for example, provide structure, add volume, and contribute to the Maillard reactions that happen when proteins are heated. What does all of this mean for your brownie mix? Well, you can leave out an egg to get a fudgier, richer brownie. Conversely, you can add an extra egg if you want fluffier brownies. Try out both methods and see which one you like better!
Looking for a little kick in your otherwise bland brownie box mix? Try sprinkling in some cinnamon powder or even cayenne! If you’re not into spicy, try topping your brownies with sea salt for a nice savory balance to the otherwise sweet and cloying brownie flavor.
Here’s a classic go-to box mix enhancer. Candy bars like Snickers or Reese’s are admirable choices, but don’t be afraid to experiment with other kinds of candy! Crushed peppermint or Jolly Ranchers, maybe even chopped up gummy worms. The kiddos will really love helping you pick out the candy for this one!