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

Playdate Brownie (aka “Cookies and Cream”)

July 08, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Cream Cheese, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Nut-Free


I love me some cookies and cream, and I love me some brownies; this recipe brings them together for a playdate… and, thankfully, everyone gets along just swimmingly! This is a brownie recipe that kids and parents can absolutely agree on, whilst making happy faces and having a good time. Just as a playdate should be.


1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge)

Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box directions

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1 jar (about 12 ounces) marshmallow flavored ice-cream topping

6 bars of Hershey’s brand “Cookies And Cream” candy bars (white chocolate with cookie pieces)



Make brownie batter according to directions on the box. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, use a mixer to blend the cream cheese with the marshmallow topping.

Whip it for about a minute on medium-high speed.


Pour half of the brownie batter into a greased pan; set aside the other half of the batter for later. Place 5 of the 6 Cookies And Cream candy bars on top of the batter, from edge to edge. (From what I hear, Paula Deen pioneered this technique, using Symphony candy bars.) Save 1 candy bar to use for a garnish after baking.


Spread the marshmallow/cream cheese filling on top of the candy bars. Yum.


Pour the remaining half of the chocolate brownie batter on top.



From the side, it’ll look like this. Are you yet using your imagination to guess how amazing this is going to taste? This is a killer brownie, for sure!


Bake for about 35-45 minutes at 350 F, depending on the size of your pan. Mine took about 42-43 minutes. As soon as you pull your fully baked brownies from the oven, use your one remaining candy bar to garnish the top. Break off small pieces and push the candy bar fragments down into the still-warm crust.


You will be astonished at how pretty this is when you cut and serve it. Right now, I’m finding it hard to imagine anything better than an afternoon with a good friend, a cold glass of milk, and a Playdate Brownie with cookies-and-cream goodness built right in!


Girl Scout Cookie Series: Tagalong Brownie Pie

April 11, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Peanut Butter, Super-Simple


Do I really need to say anything more than: Tagalong Brownie Pie? This recipe features Girl Scout Tagalong cookies, a ridiculously gooey peanut-butter-caramel layer, and toasted walnuts. And it’s one of my easiest recipes! PS – When Girl Scout Cookies are out of season, you can substitute another (preferably chocolate-coated) peanut butter cookie…like Little Debbie Nutty Bars or even Nabisco Nutter Butter cookies.

The Tagalong cookie is perfect. Right? Wrong! The Tagalong Brownie Pie is EVEN MORE PERFECTER!


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 brownie box mix (I used Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box’s directions
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) peanut-butter-caramel dip (I used a 16-ounce tub, Marzetti brand)
  • 1 package Girl Scout Tagalong Cookies (or any peanut butter cookie)

With ingredients like this, how can you go astray?

So wonderful, but there are only 15 in a package. And, for me, that means 5 for Monday morning, 5 for Monday lunch, and 5 for Monday dinner. Woeful Tuesday. With this recipe, you can have enough to serve all week!


If Girl Scout Cookie season is over and you can't get Tagalongs, here are two fabulous peanut butter cookie alternatives! Little Debbie Peanut Butter Crunch Bars or Little Debbie Nutty Bars.


Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast your walnuts on a cookie sheet for about 5-6 minutes, until they’re slightly golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Make brownie mix with eggs, oil, and water, according to the directions on the box. I like to use the “extra egg” recipe, which is sometimes in fine print next to the “regular” recipe. That extra egg adds a little more loft and cakiness to the brownie. But that’s just my preference; you should build your own brownie world the way you like it. Pour brownie batter into two (2) well greased 9-inch pie pans.

This recipe makes two 9-inch brownie pies. One for me, one for you.

Since you’re using 2 pans, your baking time will be much shorter than the box instructs. (My box mix suggested a baking time of 35-40 minutes, but my brownie pies only needed 22-24 minutes to bake.) When a center-placed toothpick comes out nearly clean, that means your pies are done.

Yum. This is a happy moment.

When pies have cooled, put about 1/2 cup of peanut-butter-caramel dip on the surface of each pie. Spread it evenly. I intentionally avoided covering the outermost half-inch of brownie, the part where a pie would normally have a “crimp” in the crust. I thought it looked cute that way, plus it helped make serving a little easier.

Spread the love.

Using a walnut as a “stand,” prop up your cookies. This will make it easier and cleaner for your guests to grab those cookies and eat them with their fingers.

Who knew you could use a walnut as a cookie stand? (I did.)

Since there are 15 cookies in a Tagalong box, I put 8 cookies on one pie and 7 on the other. Add 1/2 cup of your toasted walnuts to each pie. I chopped my walnuts into large pieces.


This Tagalong Brownie Pie recipe would make any Girl Scout proud, and I’m sure your troop will love ‘em!



I made this Tagalong Brownie Pie using two different kinds of Little Debbie cookies: Peanut Butter Crunch Bars (on the left) and Nutty Bars (on the right).


Here's another supah-delish take on this recipe. Use a mini-cupcake pan to make tiny brownies, "frost" with the peanut butter caramel, top with nuts, and garnish with a piece of peanut butter cookie. Finger-sized perfection!

Seriously. How cute is that? It's the best thing to have at work and just POP in your mouth. YUM!


Super Bowl Brownie: Guinness Vs Snickers (Spoiler: You Win!)

February 03, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Candy Bar, Holiday, Nutty


When I considered what kind of brownie I’d want to serve at a Super Bowl party, I immediately started thinking about making a beer brownie with a salty-sweet kick. Mmm, mmm. This competitive, showoff of a recipe — with just 5 ingredients — is the result.

Enjoy the Big Game on Sunday. I hope you stuff your face and have a blast. Here’s my play-by-play commentary on how to make this brownie:

YouTube Preview Image


  • 1 box brownie mix (for this recipe, I used Betty Crocker Triple Chunk — yum)
  • 1 can (14.9 ounces) of Guinness Stout
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (half of a stick) of butter or margarine
  • 5-6 Snickers bars, or 1 bag of miniatures

These 5 little ingredients will give you a big crowd reaction at your Super Bowl party!


Pour Guinness into a small saucepan and boil over medium heat until it thickens.

Over medium heat, bring Guinness to a boil and stir until it thickens. Chefs typically call this a "sauce reduction." I call it "saucy seduction."

It may take about 10 minutes for your Guinness to thicken up. (If you’re a coach who needs the game to go faster, mix 2 T cornstarch into 2 T of water, then add this to your boiling Guinness.) As delicious as this syrupy concoction LOOKS, it’s not very sweet; in other words, don’t lick the pan. But this syrup will add a dark, smoky undertone to your brownies. Honestly, you can hardly taste the Guinness unless you’re really looking for it!

Melt butter or margarine in the microwave, about 20-25 seconds. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, Guinness, and brownie mix. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the pan size. While brownies are baking, cut the Snickers into bite-sized pieces.

Slice up the Snickers bars so you can see all that salty, nougatty, caramelly, peanutty goodness that's inside.

When brownies are done and the crust is still warm, use your fingers to push the Snickers pieces deep down into the crust.  Make sure each brownie will have several bites of Snickers. That’s it. Wasn’t that easy?

If you're not careful, you will get a five-yard penalty for staring.

Cool, cut, and serve. Then hope that you don’t need to call unsportsmanlike conduct on your guests as they fight to get the biggest one.

Oh, the manly delights of the Super Bowl Brownie. (Manly, yes, but the ladies will love it, too.)

Super Bowl fan? Get some Guinness.

January 29, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Holiday


Working on my Super Bowl Brownie recipe today and tomorrow. Will post a recipe soon. This photo is a hint.