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

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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.

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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?

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INGREDIENTS – BLONDIES

  • 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

INGREDIENTS – CREAM SAUCE

  • 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

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DIRECTIONS

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.

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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Tin Roof Brownie

February 26, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Caramel, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Nutty, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple

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You may not be old enough to remember when “Tin Roof Sundae” was the name used for a hot fudge sundae topped with salted peanuts, but you’ll for-sure remember this Tin Roof Brownie after just one bite. Bonus: There’s no need for a spoon or a serving dish — just your greedy little mitts will do! This recipe uses a tin-roof shortcut in the form of PayDay candy bars, which feature salted peanuts and a caramel center.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box instructions
  • 1/2 cup fudge topping (for swirling in)
  • 5 PayDay candy bars, thinly sliced
  • Sprinkle of margarita salt, optional

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DIRECTIONS

Mix your brownie batter as instructed on the box directions. Pour batter into a greased pan. Microwave your fudge topping for about 20 seconds — just long enough to make it pliable and swirlable. Evenly drizzle blobby bits of fudge onto the surface of the unbaked brownie batter. I decided to make two small (8×8-inch) pans, as you can see below, so I had to plan ahead as I poured out my half-cup of fudge.

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Using a knife, spin the fudge into loopy, swoopy swirls. Try a few “flip-from-under” swirls, where you dig down into the batter a little and flip the batter up to the surface and then give it a clockwise (or counterclockwise) turn with the fudge on the surface. Do whatever makes it pretty, but don’t mix them together too much; you want to keep the contrast of the two colors. If there doesn’t seem to be too much color contrast before baking, don’t be concerned; my batter became lighter upon baking and made the fudge swirls stand out more.

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Bake as directed on the box. While brownies are baking, slice the peanut-laden PayDay bars into thin slices (shoot for about 10-15 slices per candy bar). When the brownies come out of the oven, you will need these pieces to be ready and waiting.

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When a toothpick test says the brownies are done, remove the pan from oven. While the crust is still warm and soft, insert the salty-sweet pieces of PayDay candy bar down into the top crust. Don’t burn yourself on the hot pan!

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Sprinkle with a pinch or two of flaked margarita salt. Cut into slices and serve. If you’re feeling extravagant, put it in a dish and add a small scoop of ice cream.

So there you go. Using hot fudge, brownie mix, and a few peanut-loaded PayDay bars, you have just created brownie greatness in the form of a giant, sliceable, nommable tin-roof-sundae dessert!

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Banana Caramel Blondie

January 07, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Caramel, Fruit, Nutty

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If you love banana nut bread, but want it in a dessert form, look no further than this easy-to-make banana caramel blondie recipe. It’s nutty, sweet, moist, and ready to put an exclamation point at the end of any picnic, potluck, or home-cooked meal.

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CAKE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box banana cake mix
  • 2-3 eggs, as called for on the box
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 8-0unce package cream cheese
  • 1 to 1.5 cups walnuts, chopped
  • Optional: Chopped chocolate or (gasp) truffles

GARNISH INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces, or about 3/4 cup, caramel dip (I used Marzetti brand)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 ounces of dark chocolate, shaved

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DIRECTIONS

Decide if you want a higher, fluffier blondie or a shorter, denser blondie. If you want higher and fluffier, use 3 eggs; if not, use 2 eggs. Put eggs in a bowl and scramble them. Melt butter in microwave for about 40-45 seconds and mix it in with the eggs. Pour in the banana cake mix.

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Batter will be thick. Add cream cheese and mix thoroughly.

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Add a cup of chopped walnuts. If you LOVE walnuts, add a cup and a half! Do not spoon this delicious batter directly into your gullet. Resist!

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Pour this thick, nutty, heavenly smelling batter into a well-greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes until a center-placed toothpick comes out nearly clean. Watch it carefully because you don’t want to overbake this one. It’s sooo good when it’s tender and perfectly baked. Remove from the oven. If you like, you can chop up some chocolate (I got extravagant and used truffles) and shove those pieces down into the still-warm crust for a chocolatey surprise.

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I put chocolate into HALF of my banana blondies so my guests would have a choice.

Let cool. Spread caramel into a thin layer over the crust of your blondies.

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Here, you can see my “half chocolate/half plain” strategy.

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Garnish your caramel layer with a sprinkling of about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts.

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And, hey, because I’m a brownie ambassador, I’ve always got some chocolate bars stashed away for emergencies. So, I busted out some dark chocolate (Hershey’s Special Dark, in this case) and I cut some shavings onto the top. Life’s just better with extra chocolate on top, even if it’s just an ounce or two.

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Oh my. There she is. Your newest little blondie bombshell! She’s the banana caramel blondie, complete with walnuts and a little chocolate flair, just for good measure.

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Molasses-Bottom Brownie

November 18, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path

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If you like buried treasure, this molasses-on-the-bottom brownie recipe will be your favorite. It’s gooey, smoky, nutty, not-too-sweet, and exceptionally drool-inspiring on a plate. This is a perfect comfort-food-for-falltime recipe. I can’t help imagining how heavenly this brownie would be with a scoop of old-fashioned black-walnut ice cream by its side. Just sayin’.

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As a kid, one of my favorite recipes was the ever-challenging from-scratch recipe for Black-Bottom Pie. This molasses brownie recipe I’ve created here reminds me of the black-bottom pie, but without all the time, expense, ingredients, and effort required to get to the face-stuffing stage. :-)  I hope you enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS

This recipe starts with 1 box Pillsbury Fudge Truffle Bundt Cake Mix, which contains 2 plastic baglets

BATTER INGREDIENTS
“Cake mix” baglet from Pillsbury box mix
2 eggs
6 T melted butter
1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
1 cup water

MOLASSES-BOTTOM INGREDIENTS
“Filling mix” baglet from Pillsbury box mix
2 T melted butter
1/2 cup molasses (regular, not black-strap or super-dark molasses)
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

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DIRECTIONS

Take the larger Pillsbury baglet filled with powdered cake mix, and pour it into a large bowl. Add melted butter, eggs, cream cheese, and water. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed with a mixer.

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Set large bowl aside. Take the smaller Pillsbury baglet filled with powdered filling mix, and pour it into a medium bowl. Add melted butter and molasses.

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Stir by hand until well blended. Then stir in the chopped, toasted walnuts. Set medium bowl aside.

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From the large bowl, pour your light, puffy batter into two large greased loaf pans — or one large loaf pan and 2 mini-loaf pans. See below for a size comparison. These mini-loaves make great gifts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, or any other holiday when people like to, uh, eat.

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Regardless of what size loaf pans you use, plan this next part ahead so that you will evenly divide the filling according to pan size. Below is a photo of the large loaf pan with half of the filling in it. As you can see, the thick filling is piled up in the center half of the pan, with sort of a mound-like shape, leaving an empty space on either side of the mound. Don’t let the filling touch the pan; stop your filling just a half-inch away. During baking, the heavy filling will sink through the puffy batter and down to the bottom of the pan, allowing a light, tender batter crust on top and a gooey, nutty filling on the bottom one-third of your dessert.

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Your guests are going to flip when you serve this. (Just a suggestion: microwave each piece for 15-20 seconds before serving because it is outrageously delicious that way.) So here it is, folks: Molasses-Bottom Brownie, a super moist, gooey, smoky, nutty, and tender baked treat with a recipe that people will beg for.

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