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

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

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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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

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DIRECTIONS
Coat muffin pan liberally with butter-flavored cooking spray.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Yu-u-u-u-u-u-um.

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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. 

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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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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Double Dog Dare Brownie

August 01, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Creative, Fun For Kids, Off the Beaten Path, Peanut Butter, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple

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Kids love a good food dare, and I’m no exception, so I created the Double Dog Dare Brownie recipe–complete with peanut butter, caramel, and (here’s where the dare comes in) crushed potato chips. By adding raisins, you can “up the stakes” to a triple dog dare. Try it; if you’re like most people in my beta test group, you’ll laugh a little when you realize how good it is! Have fun with this one.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box “family size” brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker’s “13 x 9 Family Size”)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used reduced-fat Jif)
  • 2/3 cup fresh, soft raisins (optional)
  • 2/3 cup caramel dip (I used Marzetti brand)
  • Potato chips (I used Kettle Cooked Lay’s, which are super-crunchy)

DIRECTIONS

Mix and bake brownies as directed on the box. When the brownies are completely cooled, spread peanut butter in a thin layer on top of the brownie crust. As you can see, my layer was just thick enough to cover the crust.

Choose your raisins carefully. (Don’t use hard raisins. Ick.) At the store, do what you can to get super fresh and soft raisins; squeeze the box or bag to make sure. Sprinkle the raisins evenly on top of the peanut butter. Adding raisins is optional, but if you leave them out, then you only have a DOUBLE dog dare, not a TRIPLE. S’up to you.

Pour caramel over the raisins. Mine “poured” out in blobs and globs.

Spread caramel as evenly as you can. This is the surface to which your potato chips will adhere.

You’re done for now. Cover and store your brownies until you’re ready to serve. There’s no need to refrigerate. When it’s time to eat, cut a serving and then garnish it with a crushed fist full of potato chips. Yum!

The crushing is half the fun; you might want to let your guests/kids do it themselves. Serving suggestion:

Whatever you do, don’t add the potato chips until right before serving. You want a big, crunchy snap to balance your chewy raisins and that rich, fudgy brownie! If you want to turn this brownie into a QUADRUPLE dog dare, consider a flavored potato chip–like maybe barbecue or cheddar cheese. But, seriously, that’s starting to get a little weird; so you’re on your own if you want to go that far.

This recipe is a worth trying, if only to say you did it. I double dog dare you to make it. I think it’s both fun and tasty. And I know that kids are going to love it! The Double Dog Dare Brownie–with peanut butter, raisins, caramel, and potato chips–is a fun recipe to show your kids (or yourself) just how daring you are.

If you liked this recipe, you may also like:

Tagalong Brownie Pie

Turtle Pretzel Brownie