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

Blarney Brownie

March 16, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party


On Saint Patrick’s Day, you want a green dessert that will dazzle your guests both with taste and a good old Irish sense of humor — so serve the Blarney Brownie. (Blarney means, among several definitions, “deceptive nonsense.”) See, the Blarney Brownie is a little like the concept of green beer; your guests will see “green” but they’ll taste “cherry!” In this recipe, some Leprechaun trickery and green maraschino cherries will ensure that blarney never tasted so good!



  • 1 box frosting-included brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box mix (I like the “extra egg” version, usually a footnote on the box)


  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) marshmallow topping (the kind you drizzle over ice cream)
  • 1/3 cup juice from a jar of GREEN maraschino cherries (not the traditional red)
  • GREEN maraschino cherries, about 20
  • 5-10 drops of green food coloring
  • Green sprinkles


Green maraschino cherries. They’re not in EVERY store, so call ahead! I found mine right next to the red ones.


Open box mix and set aside the fudge icing packet, which you’ll use after the baking. Be careful when buying your brownie mix for this recipe. Don’t confuse a “put-the-fudge-packet-INTO-the-batter” mix with a “put-the-fudge-packet-ON-TOP-OF-the-baked-brownie” mix. (The into-the-batter packets are usually not very sweet and won’t work as a frosting.)

Pour powdered brownie mix into a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and water to the brownie mix. Stir thoroughly. Spread 75% of the chocolate batter into a greased pan, setting aside 25% for later.


In a medium bowl, place cream cheese and marshmallow topping. Mix with an electric beater on medium or medium-high speed until completely mixed, or about 1 minute.


Add 1/3 cup of the green maraschino cherry juice. Mix on low speed (to avoid splattering), and it will turn a light, pastel green. Look, “light green” is cute, but I don’t think it’s green enough to feel REALLY celebratory, so I mixed in 7 drops of green food coloring, which gave it a lovely springy color for Saint Patrick’s Day!


Cut the green maraschino cherries into big, chunky pieces — not too small. I chopped mine into halves and thirds. Pretty!


Pour 2/3 of the creamy green batter in an even layer over the brownie batter that’s in the pan. Then evenly sprinkle the green cherry pieces over that.


Pour the remaining 1/3 of the green batter on top of the cherries.


Use the remaining 25% of chocolate brownie batter to drizzle over top of the green batter. This will be your top crust.



Bake according to the box directions, but be sure to add another 10-15 minutes, since you’ve added a whole layer in there. Be watchful. It’s hard to do a “toothpick” test to check for doneness, because the green middle layer stays wet and gooey. Just try to reach a moment when the center of the pan is no longer wet and jiggly. Also, watch for the four corners to begin getting crusty and dry. You’ll probably notice some puffing up on all four edges; that is the chocolate brownie batter rising around the green batter. (The green batter has no eggs in it, so it will not rise or puff up.) When done, remove from oven and allow to cool. Don’t worry if it looks a little like a barren planet surface; we will be covering it up with frosting and sprinkles!


When brownies are completely cool, it’s time to frost. Soften the fudge icing packet by placing it under hot tap water for 30 seconds. Knead packet in your hands to mix the packet’s contents. Cut away a corner of the packet and squeeze frosting over brownie crust. Spread the frosting in a thin layer over your cooled brownies. Quickly, while the frosting is still wet, decorate with green sugar sprinkles.


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There she is, your shamrock-green St. Patty’s Day Blarney Brownie, a deceitful cherry-flavored treat for everyone who has a little Irish in ‘em!



Shirley Temple Blondie (and the “Dirty Shirley”)

December 16, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Fruit, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free


When I think of Christmas, I remember going to family parties and being allowed to drink a Shirley Temple, which is a 7-Up with maraschino cherry syrup and a cherry. So I turned it into a dessert. So festive, so special, so sweet and celebratory! This baked treat would also be kind of adorable for a girly-girl’s birthday, no matter what her age. It took two times to get this recipe just right. I didn’t think I’d love the end result as much as I did, but I do. The kicker is that I added some mini chocolate chips to half of the pan, creating the Dirty Shirley! Hahaha!


  • 1 box sugar cookie mix (about 15-17 ounces, I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese (I used Philadelphia brand)
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow ice cream topping (I used Smucker’s brand)
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 tsp cherry extract (optional, but it sure adds more cherry “kick”)
  • Pink and/or white sprinkles (you’ll be so glad you added these)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, optional (I used Nestle brand)



First things first. You must absolutely prepare yourself for something that is this (see below) mesmerizing in its shiny, cheery, cherry goodness. Oh my.


Now that you’ve prepared yourself, let’s get started. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds and pour it into a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix. Then add sugar cookie mix and stir well.


Add cream cheese and blend it in completely.


Set aside about 1 to 1.5 cups of the batter into a medium bowl. Spread the remaining batter into a greased pan. I used a  7×11-inch pan, which resulted in a super-thick blondie. You could easily use a 9×13-inch pan, which would make a shorter blondie.


Drain the cherries, while preserving the cherry syrup; add 1/2 cup of the cherry syrup to the batter. Add 1/2 cup of the marshmallow topping. Add 1 tsp of cherry extract or cherry flavoring.


Mix together into a dreamy, sticky, sweet, pink batter. Add large spoonfuls of cherry batter into the plain batter.


Set aside. On a cutting board, divide the cherries into 2 piles: one pile that you’ll chop and one pile of whole cherries, which will decorate the top crust. Since you’ll want one whole cherry per blondie, look at the size of your pan and plan accordingly. I did 6 rows of 3 cherries, but a larger pan might fit more. It depends on how large you want each treat to be and how many people you have to serve. Finely chop your cherries.


Scatter the chopped cherries onto the pink batter. So pretty!


Use a knife to dig down into the plain batter and turn it over. Do it so that some plain batter comes to the top and some pink batter goes to the bottom. Don’t be too enthusiastic and mix the layers together too much — you want them to be twirled together into big, chunky swirls.


If you would like to have some “Dirty Shirley” blondies, not just Shirley Temples, sprinkle some mini chips onto the surface. I turned half of my pan into Dirty Shirleys, uisng a scant 1/4 cup. If you want to dirty up the whole pan, about 1/2 cup should do the trick.


Add your whole maraschino cherries on top so that each blondie, when cut, will have one cherry in the center. Since baking will turn the top crust golden brown, I suggest adding some pink sprinkles to preserve the pretty, pretty pinkiness of this blondie. Shirley Temple herself would shirley approve. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!


I used both pink AND white sprinkles…mostly because I am a brownie baking ambassador, and I just happened to have both colors on hand. Bake at 350 F for about 30-45 minutes, depending on the depth of the batter. Test with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let cool. The result was simply stunning, don’t you think?




For Christmas, or for just about any special occasion, try this cheery, cherry, sweet, and memorable dessert: the Shirley Temple Blondie (or the Dirty Shirley)!

Valentine’s Day Cherry Cordial Brownie

February 07, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Holiday, Nut-Free


It’s just like a cherry cordial — one that’s big enough to need a plate. BAM! Cupid just shot a thousand tiny arrows into your taste buds. Deal with that.



  • 1 box brownie mix (Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge, with the fudge icing packet included)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 or 2 eggs (1 for a shorter, fudgier brownie; 2 for a taller, fluffier brownie)
  • 1/3 cup water


  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 12-ounce jar marshmallow topping (the kind you drizzle over ice cream)
  • 2-3 teaspoons almond extract, to taste
  • 1/3 cup juice from a maraschino cherry jar
  • 15-25 maraschino cherries, depending on pan size


Open box mix and set aside the fudge icing packet, which you’ll use after the baking. Be careful when buying your brownie mix for this recipe. Don’t confuse a “put-the-fudge-packet-INTO-the-batter” mix with a “put-the-fudge-packet-ON-TOP-OF-the-baked-brownie” mix. (The into-the-batter packets are usually not very sweet and won’t work as a frosting.)

Pour powdered brownie mix into a large bowl.

Melt butter or margarine in microwave (about 25-30 seconds) and add it to the brownie mix, along with the eggs and water. Mix thoroughly. Spread 80% of the chocolate batter into a greased pan, setting aside 20% for later.

In a medium bowl, place cream cheese and marshmallow topping. Mix with hand beater on medium speed just until completely mixed.


By hand, mix in the cherries, almond extract, and maraschino juice. It will be the prettiest shade of pink!

Using a tablespoon, scoop up one cherry and a spoonful of the cherry filling. Place this cherry-pink filling down into the chocolate batter. Don’t just put a dollop on top of the batter; try to get it down in there.


Plan ahead on how you will space the cherries into your pan. Each brownie should have one cherry in its center. I used an 11×7 pan and I used 24 cherries in 6 rows of 4 cherries.


Use the remaining 20% of chocolate brownie batter to drizzle over top of the pink batter. This will make for a more attractive crust. (When I first made this recipe, I just let the pink batter stay exposed. Once baked, it was pretty odd-looking until I covered it with the frosting that came in the box mix. So, I recently added this extra step as a decorative pre-emptive strike.) 

Bake until a toothpick placed into the chocolate part comes out nearly clean, about 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of your pan.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Soften the fudge icing packet by placing it under hot tap water for 30 seconds. Knead packet in your hands to mix packet’s contents. Cut away a tiny corner of the packet so it will deliver a thin ribbon of icing.


Drizzle icing over your cooled brownies in a pattern that will be pleasing to you and your valentine. You don’t have to go for a “fully frosted” effect here; feel free to leave some areas exposed.


Mmm, mmm. “Love” just isn’t a big enough concept for this. Serve with two forks.

White-Chocolate Truffle and Cherry-Pie Brownies

August 23, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Candy Bar, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Nut-Free


White-Chocolate Truffle and Cherry-Pie Brownies….  What? You say that it’s not possible to have THAT MUCH goodness in one brownie?

Well, believe it, my Brownie Minions. It *is* possible to have white chocolate AND truffle AND cherry pie AND brownies–all together in one dessert that could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Stop snickering. I’m serious.

It's um, gah. Whew... This symphony of sweet treats is *almost* beyond words. Think of cherry cordials. And Christmas. In your mouth.

If you need proof, then bake this new brownie creation. It’s this site’s first fruit brownie: The White-Chocolate Truffle and Cherry-Pie Brownie. Before you read any further, please have a seat–I don’t want to face any lawsuits because this recipe caused someone’s knees to buckle.


Brownie box mix (plus egg, oil as directed on box)

A 21-ounce can of cherry pie filling (use the bright-red cherry filling, which is much prettier than black-cherry filling)

1 ounce amaretto

1/2 tsp ground cloves (plus or minus, to your taste)

6 ounces (or about 15) white-chocolate truffles (like Lindt, shown below)

Just getting warmed up here. Gathering all my darlings together before the "quickening." (All of you Highlander fans will get what I'm talking about here.)


Measure out one ounce (a full shot glass) of amaretto.

Liquid gold. So pretty.

Mix pie filling, amaretto, and cloves together in a small bowl; set aside.

Amaretto goes into the cherry pie filling. Smell that sweetness?


Mix in the cloves. It's a party in your Olfactory Factory.

Prepare brownie mix as directed on box. I always use the option on the box that says “for a thicker brownie;” it usually calls for an extra egg. And that extra egg will give your brownies some more loft. Pour batter into a greased pan. Add dollops of cherry mixture using the spoon to push cherry mixture deep into the batter. Swirl gently with a knife (but not too much).

Despite much evidence to the contrary, this is the best kind of spooning there is.

I get a little light-headed just looking at this photo. <swoon>

Bake as directed on box, adding about 10-15 minutes to total baking time to compensate for the extra thickness due to the cherries. While brownies are baking, cut up your truffles into halves or thirds.

This step may seem tragic as you're carrying it out, but keep moving forward. Soon, you will be glad that you "ruined a whole bag of truffles" by hacking them to bits.

Remove brownie pan from oven when a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10-20 minutes. While crust is still warm and soft, push truffle pieces down into the crust.

You're almost there!

Nirvana is at hand. With this brownie, there's no need to wait until it cools. It's a decadent treat when served hot with a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!

This box is pretty enough to pair with my White-Chocolate Truffle and Cherry-Pie Brownie. Sproing, indeed!