Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box
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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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Red-Wine Caramel Brownie Sundae

February 21, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Caramel, Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Nut-Free, Party, Super-Simple

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There is one thing that red wine has in common with brownies, ice cream, and caramel: this super-simple out-of-the-box sundae recipe! Look at that! Fancy enough to serve at the finest event; easy enough to make any night of the week. You’ll be amazed, as were all of my “beta-testers.”

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on the box
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red wine (I used a nice, plummy, smoky Shiraz)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • About 8 to 10 ounces (about 2/3 cup) of caramel topping for ice cream
  • Vanilla ice cream (get the good stuff; you deserve it)

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DIRECTIONS

Mix and bake brownies according to the box instructions. I always use the “extra egg” version of the recipe, usually in small print as a footnote on the box. The extra egg means less fudge-like and more cake-like. When done, remove from oven and let cool.

While brownies are baking and cooling, you can make this amazing, super-easy sauce that will make your brownie sundae worthy of the fanciest of dinner parties, the most special of family events, or the most romantic of celebrations. It begins with a wine reduction.

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Start by pouring red wine and ground cloves into a saucepan. Place on medium heat, no higher. It’s okay to let it bubble, just not to the point of foaming or a “rolling boil.” Just a nice, steady simmer of small bubbles.

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Stir every 1-2 minutes until you notice the amount of liquid in the pan is getting low. Total cooking time will be maybe 15-20 minutes.

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Your wine reduction is done when there is just enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan. Don’t, I repeat, don’t let it go too far and boil away to nothing. At the end, the goal is to reduce your cup and a half of wine down to about 1/8 of a cup of intensely flavored wine.

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Mix your wine reduction together with the caramel topping. (You can make your own caramel from scratch if you prefer; it’s not as hard as you think. Try this simple recipe or this almost-as-simple recipe.)

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The intensely purple-red color of the wine reduction mixes with the toasty tan of the caramel to create a very pretty color.

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In a bowl or deep plate, put a brownie, one scoop of ice cream, and about a tablespoon of red-wine caramel — 2 tablespoons if your sundae feels like it!

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Strawberry Triple-Cream Brownie

February 09, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Holiday, Nut-Free

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Three creams underneath a sweet strawberry pie-filling goo on top of a deep chocolatey brownie crust — it all adds up to decadent, sticky Valentine brownie bliss.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box directions
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) whipped cream topping, like CoolWhip (thawed, not frozen)
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp KoolAid unsweetened lemonade powder (optional)
  • 1 or 2 cans (21 ounces each) strawberry pie filling
  • 1-2 ounces rum or amaretto (optional; I used vanilla rum)

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DIRECTIONS

First, you’ll need to plan ahead just a little bit. Think about whether you want a thick and tall brownie or a thinner one.

  • If you want a thick brownie that you can cut into tall, towering servings, I suggest using a 9×9-inch pan (or its equivalent, say, 7×11). In this case, you can use either a regular or family-size brownie mix and 1 can of pie filling.
  • If you prefer thinner brownies that you can serve in big, wide slices, then use a 9×13-inch pan. In this case, you should use a family size box mix — one that says “9×13″ on the box — and plan on using almost 2 cans of pie filling.

Either way, yum. To help you decide, these photos reflect the “thinner” kind made in a 9×13 pan.

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To get started, make and bake brownies according to the box instructions. When they are cooled, you can begin making the creamy filling. Using an electric mixer on medium to medium-high setting, mix together the cream cheese, whipped topping, and sour cream until perfectly smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

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You can decide if you’d like to add a little lemony ZING to your valentine brownie. (This is optional, but I like the idea of cutting the sweet of the brownie and gooey topping with the zip of lemon and sour cream.) If you like, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened KoolAid lemonade powder in about 1 teaspoon of hot tap water, mixing until completely dissolved. Add to your cream mixture and beat it for 30 seconds until it’s blended in.

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Pour cream mixture over top of cooled brownies and spread it evenly.

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If you’d like to add a tiny little KAPOW to your strawberry topping, do as I did and add 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of rum or amaretto. I used vanilla rum and it was delightful! You can just mix it right into the can if you want to save a dirty dish. If you’re using 2 cans of topping for a 9×13 pan, add 2 tablespoons of alcohol to the second can of topping as well.

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Pour strawberry topping over the cream layer. (Below you will see how “one can of topping is not quite enough” to fully cover a 9×13 pan.)

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Keep refrigerated. Before serving, let it set up in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I suggest that you serve this immediately after cutting, because the goo and strawberries have a habit of slowly oozing over the brownie edge, which is actually sort of seductive in a valentine-y kind of way.

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Mardi Gras King Cake II (Coconut Brownie)

February 04, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Party

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The traditional New-Orleans-style King Cake is more like a cinnamon bread, but this coconut-and-chocolate ring has even more decadence, color, and flavor, so it will be perfect for your Mardi Gras party!

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The inspiration for adding coconut comes from a Mardi Gras carnival krewe that has a popular “throwing-of-the-coconut” tradition, which drives Mardi Gras parade-goers wild! Over the years there were some coconut-related injuries at Mardi Gras, eventually leading to lawsuits and a reluctant discontinuation of the happy tradition for a year or two — until 1988, when the Louisiana governor signed into law the Coconut Bill, removing any liability from throwing a coconut during the Mardi Gras parade. Look, friends, I just blog about this stuff; I don’t make it up. So, HEADS UP! Here’s your recipe, comin’ at ya!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box brownie mix (don’t use a mix with chocolate chips; they will stick to the bundt pan)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on box (use the “extra egg recipe, usually a footnote)
  • Bundt cake pan prepared with cooking spray and 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 box coconut pudding (instant or cook)
  • Milk as called for on pudding box (usually 2 cups)
  • 3 T margarine
  • 1 ounce melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 1.5 to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • A few dribbles of milk
  • 3/4 tsp coconut extract
  • Sugar sprinkles in green, gold, and purple
  • Plastic “Baby Jesus” trinket, for adding after baking (remember, Mardi Gras leads to the Catholic tradition of Lenten season—so Jesus is a part of this celebration)

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DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, oil,and water. Add brownie mix and stir until all is combined. Prepare bundt pan first by spraying with cooking spray.

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Finish preparing your pan by adding flour on top of the spray and shaking to coat all surfaces. Bang the pan against your counter to shake loose the excess flour and shake it out so you have a nice, thin, uniform layer of flour.

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Pour batter into prepared pan.

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Bake at 350 for about 25-35 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, looking for a nearly clean pull from the center. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and let it cool completely on a rack. Don’t let it cool entirely in the pan, as it will be harder to turn out of the pan.

Make coconut pudding as directed on the pudding box. I like the convenience of a no-cook mix.

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Load your prepared coconut pudding into a pastry bag with a long tip or into an electric cookie press (just like the one a Brownie Ambassador might have on hand). You are about to inject the pudding into the brownie. <Certainly worthy of a trumpet flourish.>

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Place the pretty, fluted part of the brownie face down, so you will be injecting the pudding from what will EVENTUALLY be the bottom of the brownie. This will let you leave the scars of entry on the bottom, completely invisible from your guests. Using the long tip, poke into the brownie every inch or so and move the tip around to make a cavity into which the pudding can flow. As you can see below, I made a TON of pokes into my brownie, using three rows of injections. Don’t be worried if you have some coconut pudding left over; you can remedy this by eating the pudding in your spare time. ;-)20130202-135031.jpg

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Before you turn the brownie over to frost it, insert the plastic Baby Jesus trinket randomly into the treat. Here is the trinket, going in head first! I found my packet of 6 plastic babies at a national-chain hobby store that has sewing and baking supplies.

Turn your brownie ring over so the pretty fluted side is now up. You’re now ready to frost it. Smoosh margarine against the sides of a small bowl until it is soft and pliable.

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Pour in the sugar and melted bittersweet chocolate. (I use “premelted” packets of bittersweet chocolate, as you can see below.)

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When you try to mix it, it’ll be too thick to do anything with it. So add a few dribbles of milk until you can at least stir it into a smooth, thick, chocolatey frosting.

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Add about 3/4 teaspoon of coconut extract, adding more or less to suit your taste. When you smell this heavenly homemade frosting, you’ll know what a treat is in store for you!

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Spread this thick, coconutty icing on top of your King Ring, allowing it to slowly ooze down the sides. Quickly, while icing is still wet, sprinkle with the three colors of sugar sprinkles in a pattern that will please your Mardi Crew.

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When you serve your King Cake, remind your guests to be careful until the inedible plastic baby trinket is found. The person who discovers the Baby Jesus in their piece is the King (or Queen) of your Mardi Gras festivities. May I suggest that you make a paper crown, just for your event?! Fun! Here’s my friend Katy, wearing the QK (“Queen Katie”) crown I made for her. Isn’t she gorgeous?

There is joy for the person you crown, but also responsibility; tradition deems that this year’s royalty must bring a King Cake to next year’s party! I hope you have fun making and serving this coconut-and-chocolate version of a Mardi Gras King Cake!