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



How I got out of, and into, the box

Until 2010, I made brownies using my mom’s buttery, melty, from-scratch recipe. And DAAAAANG is her recipe good!

My lovely mother taught me how to bake from scratch. Her brownie recipe is "The Holy Grail."

Box-mix brownies were always my competition, even back 10-20 years ago, when they weren’t much of a threat. But in recent years, they got better. Then pretty doggone good. And then fairly awesome.

So I stepped up my game. Pow! To each homemade brownie batch, I added frivolous and unexpected delights — whatever struck my whimsiest whim. Like macadamia nuts and Mounds Bars, or dark chocolate and raspberry preserves, or Kahlua and chocolate custard. During an entire “summer of brownies,” I concocted new recipes in my mad-scientist brain. Then I used my kitchen as a lah-bore-uh-torey to generate works of sheer culinary genius or failure, which I live-tested weekly on my husband and coworkers. (Everyone survived.)

But it started to get expensive. And time-consuming. And exhausting. All because I had this need to be “better than” a boxed mix. Why was I fighting against those mixes when they had grown to be so good? Didn’t they, somehow, deserve my respect? Were box mixes really the enemy, or was it all in my head? Fighting against the box was a paradox that made less and less sense. And then…

I had an epiphany. I decided to embrace the box. But I still piled on all of my luxurious addendums. Suddenly, I was creating disarmingly delicious brownies — affordably, easily, and as fast as friends could eat them.

Now it’s your turn to take box mixes and turn them into magical, one-of-a-kind homemade treats! Have fun, be nice, and use this site to share your ideas.

-Denise Hergatt Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador

Email me: outoftheboxbrownies@gmail.com


6 Comments to “About”

  1. Elaine Smith says:

    Hi Denise. Ah, how much fun is this whole thing. Your folks sent an email about this new website of yours, but I guess I did not quite understand how it was going to work. Well, tonight I went back into the original email, and WOW – lots of wonderful, fun, fattening (but very worthy of all those calories), and tempting recipes.
    I have a couple favorites, however, some of the ingredients I have not seen in stores here in Santa Barbara…but will keep up the search.
    Love seeing the picture of you and your Mom – and the sweet current one.

    Bye for now, Elaine

  2. Denise Leo, Brownie Ambassador says:

    Elaine – You’re the sweetest! Thanks. I absolutely ADORE that photo of me and mom. She started teaching me to bake when I was about 5 or 6. We always had good times in the kitchen. Sending love to you and Jerry in Santa Barbara! XO

  3. This site is amazing! I can’t believe the creations you have mastered up! Any chance of a Halloween-brownie-decorating-activity episode in the near future? (Not that I’m a halloween party room mom for my kid’s 2nd grade class and looking to borrow any ideas or anything….)

    Thanks for all of these great recipes!

  4. Wow, I am mesmerized by your website! I want to try all your recipes, and appreciate the time and effort it takes to bring us a brownie wonderland of endless possibilities!

    • Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador says:

      Greetings, Brownie Delegate Swapna.
      You surely have the makings of a Brownie Ambassador-in-Training! I’m so glad you like the site. I made it just for you! Thanks for the nice comment, and I hope you keep visiting.

  5. Why am I not surprised that you have found success with such a creative venue? It’s wonderful, Checkers! Two things……first, be a pal and gain some freaking weight! I’d feel better about myself if you would, please. And second….hows about a checkers brownie? It would be funny and sassy and you’d always be left wanting more.


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