Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box

Caramello Brownies

October 02, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Caramel, Fun For Kids, Nut-Free, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple


This recipe is dangerously simple. Three ingredients. Hardly any effort. No dirty mixing bowls. And you end up stuffing your face with an amazing, tender, crispy, chewy, rich, and memorable dessert. I promise that you’ll want to make this one again and again and again.


  • 2 packages of Nestlé cookie dough (Ultimate Dark Chocolate Delight, in the refrigerated aisle, you know: the “break-n-bake” kind)
  • Optional: A pinch of flaked salt (like the kind used to line a margarita glass)
  • 5 Caramello candy bars


Coat muffin pan liberally with butter-flavored cooking spray.


Break both packages of cookie dough along the pre-set marks. That will make 24 separate pieces of chocolate cookie dough.


We want big, thick brownie snacks, bigger than just one cookie. So I want you to smoosh together 1 and 1/3 cookies.


Grab that monster-sized bit of dough and put it into a greased muffin tin. (You’ll end up with 18 total.) I liked the effect of having the pretty chocolate chips showing on top. See photo.


Take a pinch of flaked salt and sprinkle a tiny bit on top of each brownie (optional). Bake at 350 F for about 18-20 minutes. They will be a little puffy, but not like a muffin. You can tell with a toothpick if they’re close to done. The toothpick should come out nearly clean. Either of these two toothpicks would suggest your brownie is done.


Remove the brownies from the oven. For each brownie, the puffiness will go down as it starts to cool. Mine were about 1 inch tall. Allow them to cool for a few minutes. (Set a timer so you don’t forget!) After 4-5 minutes of cooling, it’s time add your Caramello squares. If you add the Caramellos too soon, the delicate squares will melt and look saggy. After the short cooling time, break the Caramello bar into squares, and insert a square partway down below the still-soft crust of each brownie.



Leave your ooey, gooey, chocolate-y Caramello Brownies in the muffin pan for at least another 15 minutes until they cool and set up a bit. Carefully remove your Caramello Brownies from the pan and then hope they last long enough for your guests to arrive. 

Mountain Dew Cupcakes

June 25, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Fun For Kids, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party, Products


This is the FIRST CUPCAKE for my site, and I did NOT make this decision lightly… in truth, once I had the idea for this citrus-y, lemon-y, lime-y dessert, I knew that the Mountain Dew Cupcake simply HAD to be created. Just look at it. It’s like the headline should be “Cupcake Escapes from Kitchen and Rules the X-Games.”


BAM! Yeah, THAT just happened, right in your mouth.


  • 1 box lemon cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme)
  • 3 eggs
  • One 6-ounce cup lime yogurt (I used Yoplait Key Lime Pie flavor)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup water


  • Two 12-ounce cans Mountain Dew (about 3 cups)
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 3-4 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of the citrus batter, above
  • 14 drops green food color
  • 3 drops yellow food color


  • One tub lemon frosting (I used Duncan Hines Creamy Lemon)
  • 3 drops green food color
  • 2 drops yellow food color
  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar



Put on your shin guards and crash helmet. Keeping one hand on the handlebar of your BMX, use the other hand to simultaneously pour both cans of Mountain Dew into a medium saucepan. You will start with about 3 cups of liquid in the pan.


We’re going to reduce that Mountain Dew down to its intense, dewy essence. There are no rules on how to reduce Mountain Dew, so I made ‘em up: Pow! Boil that bad boy on high heat for about 15-20 minutes until about 3/4 cup of liquid remains.

During the 15 minutes when that’s boiling down, squeeze about 3-4 tablespoons of lime juice into a small bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Set that aside for later.


Check your boiling pan. When you have about 3/4 cup of molten Mountain Dew left, it’s time to move forward.


It may be hard to judge how much is in the pan, so you can use a heat-safe Pyrex glass measuring cup to check. That’s what I did.

Keeping the pan off of the heat, return The Dew to the saucepan, except for about 1/8 of a cup, which you will mix right into the cornstarch mixture. The goal is to get the cornstarch mixture warmed up a little.


Add cornstarch mixture to the pan, whisking it quickly, like you’re pedalling up an extreme hill on the BMX course. Don’t worry if you get flecks of lime goo on your face and apron — pretend it’s the mud you’re flinging onto the competitors behind you.



Return the mixture to medium or medium-high heat for just another minute or so, until it thickens up to the consistency of pudding. It will look a lot like lemon meringue pie filling at this point. This, my MD friends, is the basis for your Mountain Dew Goo. Pour it into a medium-sized bowl and set it aside while you make the cake batter.

Put all 5 of the batter ingredients into a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.

It should be thick, smooth, and creamy. Don’t eat it.

Take about 3/4 cup of the lemon batter and add it to the bowl of the Dew Goo.

Mix together and then add 14 drops of green food coloring.

Getting close. Now add 3 drops of yellow food coloring. Mix until the color is even. You can tweak it to be greener or yellower based on your personal preference. (I found this particular shade to be a nice balance against the yellow of the batter. Just one DewGirl’s opinion.)

Set the green goo aside while you fill all your muffin cups about 1/4 full with the yellow batter. I used foil muffin cups in silver and green, left over from Christmas; they were just so Dew-like.

On top of that layer, add an edge-to-edge layer of the green Mountain Dew Goo. This layer should bring each muffin cup up to about half full.Be sure to spread the green from edge to edge so you can’t see any of the yellow batter.

Top off each cupcake with a final layer of the yellow batter, making sure to cover the green entirely. I found the easiest way to do this was to spoon a circle of batter around the outer edge of the cup and then cover over the middle. Each cup should be pretty full, about 3/4 to 5/6 full.

Bake at 350 F for 17-21 minutes, until a toothpick test reveals a nicely raised (but still slightly moist) and spongy-set cake. During baking, something wild happens to that green layer, which gets all loopy, swirly and tossed around as the batter rises and expands. You’ll see what I mean when you take your first bite.

Set aside to cool completely. In the meantime, mix your frosting. Put the pre-made lemon frosting into a medium bowl. Mix in 3 drops of green and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. Feel free to tweak until you get the Mountain-Dew color that YOU like.

Add 3/4 cup of powdered (or confectioners) sugar. Mix until it’s completely lump-free.

Sprinkles make everything better. My opinion: These Mountain Dew Cupcakes just do NOT look extreme without some garish garnish on top. POW! Now THAT’S better!

You don’t HAVE TO refrigerate these, but they are so much more refreshing when you do. Chill off on a summer day with one of these bad boys. YEAH!

Keep your eyes on the prize: the one, the only, Mountain Dew Cupcake!! 

Bread Pudding Blondies with Whisky-Cream Sauce

May 24, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nut-Free, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Party


You’ll be so dang pleased with yourself when you make this de-freakin’-licious recipe, so just get on it right now: It’s time to introduce your mouth to the fantasy-revelation of bread pudding blondies with a homemade whisky-cream sauce with toasted pecans. (The whisky is optional, but highly recommended.)

I’m salivating as I type this. Seriously.


The amazing thing is that it all starts with a charmingly affordable mini-box of Jiffy brand yellow cake mix! Yep, that’s what I said. It’s probably less than a buck at your local market. Ain’t it cute?



  • 8-9 cups stale bread, cut into cubes (I bought a 24-ounce sourdough loaf and used 3/4 of it)
  • 1 small box Jiffy yellow cake mix (9 ounces, or about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp rum flavor or rum extract
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh, soft raisins


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Half & Half (or whipping cream, if you want it richer)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2-3 ounces whisky (or you can substitute 1 Tbsp rum extract + 1 tsp vanilla)
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped




Cut your stale bread into about 1-inch cubes until you have about 8-9 cups. (If your bread isn’t stale, cut into cubes and expose them to air for a few hours. Stale bread does a better job of soaking up your golden delicious batter.)

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the dry cake mix with the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. I like to use a fresh nutmeg and grate it myself; it makes my kitchen smell so good!

Add the eggs, oil, rum extract, and milk into the mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for about 2 minutes on medium. This is your blondie batter.


Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Put all your bread cubes into the pan and then pour all of the blondie batter over top, evenly distributing the batter so the bread will soak it up, leaving no overly dry bread cubes.


While the bread is soaking, sprinkle the top with raisins. It’s looking good, isn’t it?


Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, try the toothpick test. Insert the toothpick into the center and look at how wet or dry the toothpick looks. If it’s glossy wet, it needs more time. If some small, moist pieces cling to the toothpick, the blondies are done (see photo below).


The goal is to pull the blondies from the oven before the toothpick comes out completely clean and dry, which would indicate over-baking. (But this recipe has cream sauce, so if you overbake it, you’re still OK; you can pile on the cream sauce and still call it perfectly delicious!) Set the blondies aside and let them cool.

Now it’s time to make the cream sauce. Start by setting aside 1/4 cup of half & half into a small bowl. Pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups of half & half into a medium saucepan.


Add sugar to the saucepan. Mix and cook over medium heat just until it bubbles, stirring occasionally.

While waiting for the sugar and cream to boil, mix 2 T of cornstarch into the 1/4 cup of half & half that you set aside in the bowl. Mix together; this is called a slurry.


When the half & half reaches a light boil, pour in the cornstarch mixture and keep cooking on medium heat.


In a minute or two, your cream sauce will be nice and thick. Now add the whisky (or rum extract + vanilla), the butter, and the toasted/chopped pecans. Mix it all together.


If it’s too thick, you can add a few teaspoons of milk, water, or whisky to thin it out.

If it’s too thin for your preference, mix up another slurry of cornstarch-plus-liquid in a one-to-three ratio. You can use 1 Tbsp of cornstarch plus 3 Tbsp of water, or cornstarch plus milk, or cornstarch plus whisky, or cornstarch plus half & half. Add the slurry to the saucepan and cook on medium for another minute or two until it thickens up. (Never add powdered cornstarch by itself; it can create sticky lumps.)

To serve, cut a piece of bread pudding and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Generously dollop some of that rich, smoky, warm cream sauce right on top. You might even put the cream sauce into a gravy boat and let your guests top their own! So decadent! Store leftover blondies and cream sauce in the refrigerator.

Oh, people. I’m swooning for this guest-worthy recipe. Just look at that photo. How can anyone resist the beauty and the crave-ability of this Bread Pudding Blondie with Whisky-Cream Sauce?



Mucho Margarita Blondie

April 10, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Chilled, Creative, Fruit, Holiday, Off the Beaten Path, Party, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple


On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, celebrate with a light, sweet, tart, creamy, lime-bliss concoction that will knock your party socks off: the Mucho Margarita Blondie! PS – It’s one of the easiest recipes on this whole site!



  • White chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough, 16-ounce package
  • Whipped topping, 12-ounce tub, thawed
  • 6 ounces frozen-concentrated limeade, thawed (I used half of a 12-ounce can)
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup tequila
  • Optional food coloring, green and yellow
  • Optional garnish of flaked margarita salt or toasted flaked coconut

First, thaw both the frozen whipped topping and the frozen-concentrated limeade. While they’re thawing, you can bake the cookie crust and wait for it to cool.

If you love coconut and want to use it as a garnish, shake about 1/2 cup onto a cookie sheet in a thin layer. Bake at 350 F for about 5-7 minutes until it’s golden brown. Watch it carefully, because it will go from perfect to burned in a minute or two. Set coconut aside to use right when serving.

Into a greased 9×13-inch pan, spread the cookie dough, pressing it by hand into a thin layer. (If you want a thick crust, use a 9×9-inch pan and bake longer.)


Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until the edges turn a rich, crispy brown. Set aside until it’s cooled completely.


Now it’s time for the margarita part. This is so fast and easy, you will hardly believe it. In a bowl, add the thawed whipped topping (12 ounces), the thawed limeade (6 ounces), and the tequila (1/8 to 1/4 cup, depending on your taste). Stir with a rubber spatula until combined.


At this point, your margarita topping will be zingy, creamy, and refreshing — but maybe not as pretty as it could be. If you like, try adding 5 drops of green food coloring and 2-3 drops of yellow. You could use a lot more food coloring, if you like, but I tend to use less. Just aim for it to have YOUR idea of a perfect margarita-esque appearance.


Mix your margarita topping until it’s uniform in color. Pour your margarita topping over the cooled cookie crust and spread evenly.


Refrigerate for 30 minutes so it sets up a little. Cut into serving-sized pieces.

If you want to balance the zing of lime and tequila, garnish right before serving with a tiny pinch of flaked margarita salt or with a big handful of toasted flaked coconut.


That’s it! For your Cinco de Mayo party, go with a dessert that’s super simple, definitely delicious, and really refreshing: It’s the Mucho Margarita Blondie!