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

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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!! 

Frankenstein’s Monster Brownies

October 09, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Creative, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Mint, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Products


The mad-scientist Doctor Frankenstein would have loved these irresistible Halloween-party brownies; they’re creepy, green, decorated Mint Oreos on top of a delicious brownie. What kid (or adult) could resist this electrifying Halloween dessert? Have fun assembling your minty Oreo Frankenstein’s monsters!


  • 1 large box of brownie mix (look for one that makes a 13″ x 9″ pan)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box
  • 1 bag Mint Oreos (the ones with the perfectly creepy green minty tint!)
  • Sharp, serrated knife
  • 2 T butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
  • Dribble of milk or water



Make, bake, and cool your brownies as directed on the box. While your brownies are baking or cooling, you can do most of the following steps.

Based on the size of your pan, you will probably need to make 24 Frankenstein’s monsters. My pan is 13″ by 9″, and it was a perfect fit to make six rows of four Frankenstein monsters (requiring a total of 24 Mint Oreos). Place all 24 Oreos onto a clean working surface, preferably a cutting board.

First, take the tops off of the Oreos. You will need most of the tops, so don’t eat them just yet!


 Slice off 4 bits of the green Mint Oreo icing to reveal monster ears! Do this 24 times.


You could do the remaining decorations (for hair, eyebrows, eyes, and mouth) with tinted icing. If that’s what you want to do, use the really easy icing recipe below. For a fun, 3-dimensional effect, try making the monsters’ hair, eyebrows, and eyes by using pieces of the dark Oreo cookies. Directions are as follows.

Using a sharp SERRATED knife, slice the Oreo cookie into a small rectangle. A serrated knife gives a good sawing action with clean, sharp cuts. With 4 small cuts, voila! You have Frankenstein’s monster hair! You’ll be cutting hair 24 times, so get used to eyeballing the size you like.


Match the hair to the top of the head and press it in. You’ll need to do this 24 times, too.


Cut 24 more rectangles from the Oreos, but make them smaller and much narrower than the hair rectangles. These smaller rectangles will serve as monster eyebrows that indicate how angry he is (or perhaps how misunderstood he is)…ROWR! Press the eyebrows into the green icing. 24 times, of course.


 Make 48 eyeballs by taking small-ish Oreo crumbs and rolling them between your fingertips.

Then insert matching pairs of eyeballs onto each monster.


Now it’s time to make your Frankenstein’s monster mouth, using a simple icing recipe. Start by smooshing 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine against the side of a bowl until it is smooth.


Sift 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar into the bowl.


Add a small splash of milk or water.


Mix until it is a thick, smooth consistency.

If it’s too thin, add sugar. If too thick, add more liquid.


Spoon the icing into a plastic baggie.


Using scissors, snip off a tiny corner of the baggie.


Use the baggie as a pastry bag to make angry monster mouths on each cookie.


Ridiculously cute!


When you’re done piping all 24 mouths, snip off a bit more of the baggie and use the larger hole to make 24 icing dots on your cooled brownies. These dots will hold your monsters in place, even during transport and cutting.


Your Frankenstein’s Monster Brownies are now ready to scare and delight your Halloween guests with their intimidating mint-and-chocolate stares!



If you like this recipe, you may like these recipes:

Minty Moonlight Graveyard Brownie

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie

As if the pumpkin and cheesecake swirls aren't enough to make you shiver in your shoes, the sweet and spicy glaze will make you cringe with delight.

Father’s Day Brownie: Salty Caramel and Snickers

June 07, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Products, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple


I believe there might be something BETTER than a Snickers candy bar, and that’s ALMOND SNICKERS inside of a salty-caramel brownie. Hold onto your fedoras, gentlemen; this Father’s Day brownie packs a sweet, addictive wallop.



  • 1 box Pillsbury Caramel Swirl brownie mix
  • Eggs, oil, and water, as directed on the box
  • 5-7 “pinches” of flaked margarita salt
  • 4-6 Almond Snickers Bars (the “regular” Snickers has peanuts, not almonds)



This recipe is so easy, you’re going to flip! Before you know it, you’ll have a rich, sweet, power-dessert treat for Father’s Day. From the Pillsbury brownie box, set aside the caramel pouch. Make the brownie batter as directed on the box, and pour the batter into a greased brownie pan. Then snip off the corner from the pouch and squeeze the caramel out onto the surface of the batter.


Using a knife, swirl the caramel a bit so that each brownie will have a tasty vein of buttery caramel running through it. Isn’t this easy?


I just love flaked margarita salt. Don’t you? Take several nice, healthy-sized pinches of flaked salt and sprinkle it evenly over the surface of your unbaked caramel brownies. I used 5 pinches to cover the surface and it was just about right. You could use a pinch or two more if you really like salt. I was also sure to cover the edges and corners, not wanting to cheat those brownies out of their salty reward.


Bake your salty caramel brownies as directed on the Pillsbury box. While they’re baking, use a sharp knife to cut the Almond Snickers into bite-sized pieces. Set aside until baking is done.


As soon as your brownies are done baking, pull the pan out of the oven and begin pushing the Almond Snickers down into the hot crust. Space out the Snickers bites as evenly as you can.


Dads everywhere are on their best behavior, hoping to receive this salty caramel and Snickers brownie treat made especially for them on Father’s Day.

All-Edges Pan Is Kinda Genius!

May 06, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Products


This pan, from Baker’s Edge, is such a cool idea. No more fighting over the chewy brownie corners. These comments from BakersEdge.com suggest that brownie bakers are totally into this pan. Maybe you will be, too.

Thanks to Out Of The Box fan and fellow blogger, Amy Bumpus, for the photo. She has a cool cooking blog that you should visit.