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

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


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!


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!



  • 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)


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.


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.



Pour batter into prepared pan.


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.


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.>


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


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.


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



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.


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!


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.



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!

Girl Scout Cookie Series: The Samoas Brownie

March 21, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Products


I’m stating the obvious here: A 7.5-ounce box of Samoas Girl Scout Cookies just is not enough. They’re too delicious to stop eating after only 1 or 2 cookies. Seriously, I can pound down half of that box in one sitting. So I made a brownie recipe that stretches out the coconutty delight of the Samoas, making enough for an entire party!

Oh, the coconutty deliciousness of the Samoas Girl Scout Brownie.


  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on box
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (I used Eagle Brand)
  • 1 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate (I used Nestle Pre-Melted Choco-Bake)
  • 1 cup chopped or halved pecans, toasted on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes at 350F
  • 1 box Samoas Girl Scout cookies (7.5 ounces)

Here are the ingredients for those who LIKE Samoas. (If you LOVE them, you may want to use the ingredients listed below.)


  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on box
  • One 16-ounce tub caramel dip (I used T. Marzetti Brand)
  • 1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted on a cookie sheet for 4-5 minutes at 350F
  • 1 box Samoas Girl Scout cookies (7.5 ounces)


Mix together brownie mix, eggs, oil, and water as directed on box. Pour batter into greased pan.

If you like Samoas: Pour condensed milk into a bowl. Melt square of unsweetened chocolate and mix it in.

If you love Samoas, open your tub of caramel and stir it until it’s smooth.

Set aside half of the chocolate-milk mixture (or caramel). Pour the other half on top of the brownie batter.

Pour HALF of your gooey mixture of choice onto the unbaked batter. Save the other half for later.

Swirl it in with a knife.


This is ALMOST the funnest part.

Lick the knife. You know you gotta do it.


THIS is the funnest part.

Bake as directed on box. While baking, chop up the Samoa cookies into pieces.


Seems like a tragedy. But soon, you'll be happy again.

After brownies come out of the oven, let them cool if you have time. If you’re pressed for time, you can move on, but you may have a pretty gooey dessert on your hands. Drizzle the other half of your goo (either caramel or the milk-chocolate mixture) over the top.

Most important to remember at this stage: Do not drool on your own brownies.

Now, if you want toasted pecans in your recipe, add them on top of the sticky goo. If you want toasted coconut in your recipe, add that instead.

Mmm, pecans/coconut flakes are so much better when they are toasted vs when they are raw.

Top it all off with the chopped Samoas Girl Scout Cookies.

Cookie becomes garnish.

If you want a more “set-up” brownie, you can chill the pan in the refrigerator before cutting and serving.

Ridiculously delicious. Sticky. Nutty. Caramelly. And, using this brownie recipe, you’ll turn a 7.5-ounce box of Samoas Girl Scout cookies into more than 3 pounds of giddy, gooey delight. Dive in!

Every spring, the Easter Bunny ushers in both Girl Scout Cookies and the Samoas Brownie. Enjoy.

Coming Soon: Girl Scout Brownies

January 14, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Musings, Uncategorized


EARLY WARNING ALERT: I am *SO* going to make some recipes using Girl Scout cookies as ingredients.

Recipes for Samoa Brownies and Tagalong Brownies are already forming in my head. Stay tuned.

Coconut Macadamia Nut Brownies

July 11, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Nutty, Super-Simple


The supernova in my brownie galaxy: the Coconut Macadamia Nut Brownie. How can something so crave-a-licious be so EASY to make? You simply MUST try this to believe it. Oh, and get a gallon of good vanilla ice cream before you make these. I'm just sayin'.

Live from Denise Leo’s coconut studio: Watch the how-to video now!

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Box brownie mix
Egg, oil, and water as box directs
1 c. macadamia nuts
Mounds coconut candy bars (5-6 full size bars or 15-20 miniatures)


Prepare brownie batter as directed on the box and mix thoroughly. Gently mix in those beautiful macadamias.

Oh. My. Gawd. I just loooooove macadamia nuts. I always buy the "pieces," which are much cheaper than buying whole macadamia nuts.

Pour the whole shebang into a greased pan, and bake it as that bossy box tells you.

While brownies are baking, slice coconut candy bars into bite-sized pieces, minimizing the number of pieces that fall into your mouth. (Just *try* is all I’m asking.)

Cut Mounds bars into chunks. You're almost done. Isn't this recipe easy?!?

Right after removing the brownies from the oven, push all the Mounds pieces down into the warm crust of the brownies. Leave portions of the coconut showing for a funky, chunky effect that will cause your guests to drool uncontrollably.

Even in this "half-a-batch," you can see the full power of this brownie. Ka-pow!

It is simply giddy-licious to smoosh candy bars into a freshly baked pan of brownies. I will be adding, like, a zillion similar recipes to this site. Stay tuned, brownie lovers.