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

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


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.”



  • 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)



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


The intensely purple-red color of the wine reduction mixes with the toasty tan of the caramel to create a very pretty color.


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!



Strawberry Balsamic (“8 1/2 – Acre Farm”) Brownie Sundae

August 24, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Fruit, Nut-Free, Super-Simple


You all know I love brownies, but I also love the combinations of chocolate + strawberries, strawberries + ice cream, as well as strawberries + balsamic reduction. This recipe is nicknamed the 8-1/2-Acre Farm Brownie because it was inspired by my friend’s blog of the same name. Heather loves strawberries–almost as much as she loves blogging about her wacky family that is living life out in the country. Heather, this simple, ”country-fied” recipe is just for you. It’s sweet, bold, memorable, and entirely lovable. And it’s fun.


  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli with chocolate chips in the mix)
  • Egg, oil, and water as called for on the box
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Strawberry ice cream (I used Edy’s Grand)
  • Balsamic reduction glaze (you can make your own, but I used a pre-made balsamic glaze called Monari Federzoni; there is another pre-made brand named Blaze)


This recipe is as easy as it gets, folks.

Make the brownies by following the directions on the box. Let cool.

Cut a brownie and put it on a small plate. Slice fresh strawberries and add them to the plate.

Add a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

Top with a drizzling of the balsamic glaze.

That’s my reflection in the spoon. Check out my awesome “photographer’s stance.”

This recipe is a dramatic and memorable change of pace from most brownie desserts. First of all, it’s not cloyingly sweet. Second, it hits on a tantalizing trio of the five basic tastes–specifically, sweet, sour, and umami (or “savory”). The result is a rich dessert that keeps your tongue’s attention bite after bite. This colorful, versatile treat would be a great recipe for a hot 4th of July barbecue or a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. No matter when you serve it, you’re going to love this little dazzler: the Strawberry Balsamic Brownie Sundae!

Kahlua Mousse Brownies

November 14, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path


Usually, when I photograph a finished brownie, I show one serving. With this brownie, it looked so pretty IN THE PAN after I cut out a piece. It almost made me sad to think there's one less brownie left to eat. But then I remembered the one I just ate, and I felt much better.

I have 2 words for you: Sit down. Or maybe 2 better words might be: Starve yourself. Because you’re going to want to fill your belly with this new scrimpity-scrumptious brownie. I am beside myself with joy right now because I’ve brought this brownie into the world. And soon I hope it will be in your world, too: The Kahlua Mousse Brownie.

8 ingredients. 1 perfect dessert that will be sure to impress.

1 box brownie mix
Oil, hot tap water, and egg — in the amounts called for on box (I like the 2-egg version for a taller brownie)
2 tsp instant coffee
1 box Jell-O Temptations (get the “chocolate mousse decadence” flavor)

Filling Mix (from inside the Jell-O Temptations box)
1 – 1/3 cup whole milk, very cold
1 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur

Mousse Mix (from inside the Jell-O Temptations box)
1 cup whole milk, very cold
1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur (you may omit or substitute more Kahlua if you like)


Put instant coffee into hot tap water and mix thoroughly until dissolved. Mix the coffee water, eggs, and oil into the brownie mix. Pour into greased pan and bake as box directs. When done, allow the brownies to cool completely until cold.

Empty packet labelled “filling mix” into a medium-sized bowl, preferably chilled.

Brownies are done; that's layer #1. Layer #2 starts with the filling mix, super-cold milk, and an ounce of Kahlua.

Add Kahlua and 1-1/3 cups of whole milk and beat on medium to high for about 2-3 minutes until pudding gets thick.

My "pudding" was just perfect for spreading on the cooled brownies. It had little flecks of chocolate in it; this didn't bother me and certainly didn't "show" in the final product.

Spread pudding onto cooled brownies then put the whole pan into the refrigerator or freezer while you do the next step.

In a medium-sized chilled bowl, empty packet labelled “mousse mix.” Add 1 cup of whole milk and Bailey’s.

By the time you start on layer #3, you'll be getting excited, because you know how soon your mouth will be stuffed with brownie goodness.

Mix on low for 30 seconds; then beat on high for 4 minutes until fluffy and light.

Hey! Don't put yer fingers in there! At least wait until the beaters have stopped.

Gently spoon the fluffy mousse on top of the pudding layer and spread evenly.

Manners, manners. Please try to wait until you actually cut and serve it on a plate.

Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator until just before serving. If you choose to freeze it, allow at least 30 minutes to thaw before slicing and serving. It’s so refreshing, you will think that a drunken chocolate penguin exploded in your mouth. (Actually, that doesn’t sound very refreshing. But you get the idea.)  

Three layers of decadence: coffee brownie, Kahlua pudding, and Bailey's mousse. Yum!


Low-Fat Salty-Scotch Brownies

July 24, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Low-Fat, Nut-Free, Salty-Sweet



Step closer and gasp at the glory of this frozen treat. Drool at the salty, butterscotchy ribbon running through the frozen fudge layer. Marvel at its mouth-watering status as a "fork brownie." Drop your jaw when you learn that it is low in fat.


1 box low-fat brownie mix

Egg, oil, and water called for on the box

1 box (of 6) Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bars, frozen

1/2 cup butterscotch topping (fat free)

3/4 tsp salt, flaked (like margarita salt)



Do not attempt this recipe unless you’re willing to believe in reduced-fat recipes that are actually awesome. Your disbelief will only create a disturbance in the space-time continuum. And who needs that? So, first, believe.

Next, use a “low-fat” brownie mix. Mix it as directed on the box — the instructions usually call for less oil and egg than a “regular” mix.

If your store doesn’t carry a low-fat mix, call the store manager and use your sweet-talkin’ voice. Or grab a regular mix and follow the directions, except: 1) substitute plain low-fat yogurt for the oil and 2) substitute 3 egg whites for the 2 eggs.

I like to add 1 tsp vanilla for a little more flavor. I mean, ’cause vanilla is, like, three shades of awesome. Pour into greased pan and bake according to box instructions.


Two ways to get your low-fat brownie... Either get a low-fat box mix and follow the directions. Or, if your store doesn't have that, get a regular mix and make a few substitutions. (See written recipe.)

When your low-fat brownies are baked, let them cool until they are room temperature. You’ll be working with frozen stuff in your next layer, so don’t try to move on while the pan is still hot. You’ll just end up with a gooey mess and you’ll be messing with universal karma. Try to be patient.

When brownies are completely cooled, it’s time to put the Weight Watchers fudge bars on top. Using a knife dipped in hot water, pry the frozen fudge bars from their wooden sticks and place them side by side on the crust. Let stand for a few minutes until they soften.

Using a knife dipped in hot water, slide the fudge bars from their sticks. Then set the pan aside so they can soften.

Meanwhile, mix 3/4 teaspoon of flaked salt into 1/2 cup butterscotch topping. Set aside.

Flaked margarita salt helps balance the seductive sweetness of the butterscotch.

When the ice creamy fudge bars are soft, use a spatula to smoosh them together. Spread them into one smooth layer. Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes or until top layer is stiff.

Those softened fudge bars don't stand a chance. Soon they will be part of a delectable low-fat frozen treat that will make your summer sweeter.

Pull from freezer. Using a spoon, artfully create deep pockets and seams into the stiff ice cream layer. Stir the salty-scotch topping once more so the salt is evenly distributed; then pour your topping into the pockets and seams to create a ribbon of salty butterscotch.

Pour your topping into the little channels you've artfully made in the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until it's solid, and then serve with a fork!

Freeze for at least 30 minutes before serving.

If you can possibly wait that long.