16 Ways to Doctor-Up and Improve Boxed Brownie Mix
Due to a poorly planned trip to Costco, I was recently faced with approximately 2,000 packages of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownie mix. What is one supposed to do with such a great quantity of chocolate? The simple fudgey goodness of basic brownies, as decadent as they are, grows tiresome after a while and leaves one longing for change. But I feel guilty cooking anything different with a perfectly good mix in the house. The solution: change up the recipes for variety, adding nuts, chocolate chips, and other flavorings to the basic mix. Below are some of my favorite ways to tweak the basic brownie mix for delicious results.
But first: What brand of brownie mix is your favorite??
What brand of brownie mix do you prefer??
I usually like to add 1/2 to 3/4 cup total of chocolate chips or other small like ingredients, but you can increase or decrease the amount depending on your personal tastes.
Tip: if your ingredients are sinking to the bottom, coat them in flour before you add them to the mix.
- Go Nuts: Nuts are the obvious ingredient of choice and taste great. If you don't like giant chunks, crush them slightly before you add them. Walnuts are the classic choice, but pistachios, almonds, pecans, and even peanuts are also good.
- A Chip Off the Old Chocolate: Chocolate chips are also a great classic option, though not my personal favorite. You could also try other types of chips like butterscotch, white chocolate, peanut butter, and dark chocolate.
- Got Candy?: A unique idea is to chop up candy bars and stir them into the batter. Heath bars, Reese's cups, Butterfingers, York peppermint patties, and even Junior mints are all delicious options.
- Satisfy Your Caramel Craving: You could cut carmel candies into manageable pieces and stir those in as well.
- Dried Fruit: Although it seems odd, combined with almond extract dried cherries would be a delicious addition.
Adding Liquid Ingredients
You can change the flavor of your brownies not only by adding ingredients but also substituting all or part of the liquid the box recommends (usually water) with a different, more flavorful liquid!
- Replace Water With Coffee: One of my favorite substitutions is to replace all of the water with this morning's coffee! It doesn't matter if the coffee's stale. This really balances out and enhances the chocolate flavor.
- Add Booze: You could also substitute a tablespoon or so of the liquid for a splash of your favorite liqueur! I like to add just a little bit of amaretto to my brownies, but Grand Marnier, Kahlua, or rum would all work great. Just don't use too much or it'll mess up the chemistry!
- Use a Nut Oil: If you have the ingredients on hand, you could replace part of the vegetable oil with almond or walnut oil. Just don't use pistachio oil; it has too low of a smoke point.
- Enhance With Extracts: Extracts are a great way to flavor brownies! Almond and vanilla are my favorites, but coconut, peppermint, and orange would all be delicious. You should only be using a teaspoon or so of these, so don't worry about messing up the liquid balance.
Topping Your Brownies
If you made relatively simple brownies, you can have fun topping them once they come out of the oven. Just make sure they are completely cooled before topping, unless stated otherwise.
- Peppermint: Once while eating out, I smuggled home about 5 dozen peppermint candies. I found that crushed up, these are delicious pressed into brownies immediately after they com out of the oven.
- A Ganache or Cream Cheese Frosting: You could also frost the brownies with a simple chocolate ganache or cream cheese frosting.
- Cocoa Powder or Sugar: A simple dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder is a great and classic option
- Graham Crackers: Make s'mores brownies! Top with crushed graham crackers and miniature marshmallows; broil for a few seconds until the marshmallows are golden brown.
- Sandwiches With Jam: If you made the brownies in a large pan (like 13x9) then you can cut them up and make brownie sandwiches with whatever filling you want in the middle. Raspberry jam, Nutella and bananas, or marshmallow fluff are all delicious.
- Coconut Flakes or Nuts: Top with shredded or flaked toasted coconut and/or macadamia nuts for a tropical treat. Alternately, wait until the brownies cool then spread with coconut frosting.
- Sundaes: Don't forget classic brownie sundaes! Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge sauce and a cherry are a must, and that brownie better be hot!
- For fudgier versions, leave out an egg. For cake-like ones, add an egg.
- To bring out the brownies' flavor, stir a pinch of salt into the batter or top warm brownies with a sprinkling of fleur de sel.
- For amazingly fudgey brownies, take them out of the oven a few minutes early so they're still warm and gooey.
- For some with a kick, add a dash of cayenne pepper to the mix.
My Favorite Combination
This is my go-to recipe:
- Substitute the water for coffee.
- Add a teaspoon of almond extract.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Take the brownies out two minutes early for decadent, fudgey brownies.