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

Bread Pudding Blondies with Whisky-Cream Sauce

May 24, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nut-Free, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Party


You’ll be so dang pleased with yourself when you make this de-freakin’-licious recipe, so just get on it right now: It’s time to introduce your mouth to the fantasy-revelation of bread pudding blondies with a homemade whisky-cream sauce with toasted pecans. (The whisky is optional, but highly recommended.)

I’m salivating as I type this. Seriously.


The amazing thing is that it all starts with a charmingly affordable mini-box of Jiffy brand yellow cake mix! Yep, that’s what I said. It’s probably less than a buck at your local market. Ain’t it cute?



  • 8-9 cups stale bread, cut into cubes (I bought a 24-ounce sourdough loaf and used 3/4 of it)
  • 1 small box Jiffy yellow cake mix (9 ounces, or about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp rum flavor or rum extract
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh, soft raisins


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Half & Half (or whipping cream, if you want it richer)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2-3 ounces whisky (or you can substitute 1 Tbsp rum extract + 1 tsp vanilla)
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped




Cut your stale bread into about 1-inch cubes until you have about 8-9 cups. (If your bread isn’t stale, cut into cubes and expose them to air for a few hours. Stale bread does a better job of soaking up your golden delicious batter.)

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the dry cake mix with the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. I like to use a fresh nutmeg and grate it myself; it makes my kitchen smell so good!

Add the eggs, oil, rum extract, and milk into the mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for about 2 minutes on medium. This is your blondie batter.


Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Put all your bread cubes into the pan and then pour all of the blondie batter over top, evenly distributing the batter so the bread will soak it up, leaving no overly dry bread cubes.


While the bread is soaking, sprinkle the top with raisins. It’s looking good, isn’t it?


Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, try the toothpick test. Insert the toothpick into the center and look at how wet or dry the toothpick looks. If it’s glossy wet, it needs more time. If some small, moist pieces cling to the toothpick, the blondies are done (see photo below).


The goal is to pull the blondies from the oven before the toothpick comes out completely clean and dry, which would indicate over-baking. (But this recipe has cream sauce, so if you overbake it, you’re still OK; you can pile on the cream sauce and still call it perfectly delicious!) Set the blondies aside and let them cool.

Now it’s time to make the cream sauce. Start by setting aside 1/4 cup of half & half into a small bowl. Pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups of half & half into a medium saucepan.


Add sugar to the saucepan. Mix and cook over medium heat just until it bubbles, stirring occasionally.

While waiting for the sugar and cream to boil, mix 2 T of cornstarch into the 1/4 cup of half & half that you set aside in the bowl. Mix together; this is called a slurry.


When the half & half reaches a light boil, pour in the cornstarch mixture and keep cooking on medium heat.


In a minute or two, your cream sauce will be nice and thick. Now add the whisky (or rum extract + vanilla), the butter, and the toasted/chopped pecans. Mix it all together.


If it’s too thick, you can add a few teaspoons of milk, water, or whisky to thin it out.

If it’s too thin for your preference, mix up another slurry of cornstarch-plus-liquid in a one-to-three ratio. You can use 1 Tbsp of cornstarch plus 3 Tbsp of water, or cornstarch plus milk, or cornstarch plus whisky, or cornstarch plus half & half. Add the slurry to the saucepan and cook on medium for another minute or two until it thickens up. (Never add powdered cornstarch by itself; it can create sticky lumps.)

To serve, cut a piece of bread pudding and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Generously dollop some of that rich, smoky, warm cream sauce right on top. You might even put the cream sauce into a gravy boat and let your guests top their own! So decadent! Store leftover blondies and cream sauce in the refrigerator.

Oh, people. I’m swooning for this guest-worthy recipe. Just look at that photo. How can anyone resist the beauty and the crave-ability of this Bread Pudding Blondie with Whisky-Cream Sauce?



Strawberry Triple-Cream Brownie

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


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.



  • 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)




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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.)


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.


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!


Father’s Day Brownie: Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie

June 11, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Creative, Decadent, Nutty


The smoky, sweet, rich cream sauce will make your kitchen smell heavenly, and the resulting Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie ensures that your friends will never forget to invite you to Wednesday night poker. Don’t be concerned if whisky isn’t your thing; you can control just how much “zing” your brownie has!




  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker Original Supreme)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on the box


  • 1.5 cups (12 ounces) heavy whipping cream (it’s OK to use half cream, half milk)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces Whisky (or Whiskey…the spelling depends on what country it’s from)
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 more ounces of Whisky
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1.5 cups pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted


Chop pecans into coarse pieces. (In the photos, you’ll see that I chopped mine a bit too small.) Toast the pecan pieces on a cookie sheet at 350 F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Mix brownie batter as directed on the box, pour into a greased pan, and set aside.

Pour the cream into a medium sauce pan, add the sugar, and stir well.


Add a pinch of salt. Or two. Yum.


Make a “slurry” by thoroughly mixing the cornstarch into two ounces of the Whisky. (Later in the recipe, you will use 2 more ounces of Whisky.)


Pour your Whisky-cornstarch slurry into the cream and stir well.


On medium heat, bring the mixture until it begins to boil, stirring constantly. When it boils, reduce the heat so it doesn’t scald the cream. Cook at medium-low for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your Whisky-cream sauce will thicken up, and it will smell heavenly. Remove from heat, and add the remaining 2 ounces of Whisky to the cooked mixture.


Add the butter and stir until it has melted into the sauce.


Add the toasted pecans.


Stir in the pecans. Oh, my. Delightful. (Do not drink all of this sauce straight out of the pan; you will regret it later when you will be forced to eat plain brownies.)


You have two options at this point.

1) You may pour the Whisky-pecan-cream sauce over the unbaked brownie batter in a stunning “top layer,” and then bake it.


Or, 2) You may put spoonfuls of the Whisky-pecan-cream sauce on top of the unbaked brownie batter, swirl them with a knife to make delightful veins of Whisky-pecan goodness, and then bake.



Whether you choose 1 or 2 above, use a 350 F oven. You will be one happy camper in about 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick, looking for a fairly clean pull from a prick in the middle of the pan. Remove from oven. Keep in mind, some of your Whisky will evaporate during baking. So, might I petition that you use a Whisky-laced pastry brush to add just a tad more of that golden flavor to the top crust? Just a suggestion.


It’s pretty. It’s manly. It’s pretty manly. It’s the Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie, sure to make any dad happy during Father’s Day dessert.