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

Mountain Dew Cupcakes

June 25, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Fun For Kids, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party, Products


This is the FIRST CUPCAKE for my site, and I did NOT make this decision lightly… in truth, once I had the idea for this citrus-y, lemon-y, lime-y dessert, I knew that the Mountain Dew Cupcake simply HAD to be created. Just look at it. It’s like the headline should be “Cupcake Escapes from Kitchen and Rules the X-Games.”


BAM! Yeah, THAT just happened, right in your mouth.


  • 1 box lemon cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme)
  • 3 eggs
  • One 6-ounce cup lime yogurt (I used Yoplait Key Lime Pie flavor)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup water


  • Two 12-ounce cans Mountain Dew (about 3 cups)
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 3-4 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of the citrus batter, above
  • 14 drops green food color
  • 3 drops yellow food color


  • One tub lemon frosting (I used Duncan Hines Creamy Lemon)
  • 3 drops green food color
  • 2 drops yellow food color
  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar



Put on your shin guards and crash helmet. Keeping one hand on the handlebar of your BMX, use the other hand to simultaneously pour both cans of Mountain Dew into a medium saucepan. You will start with about 3 cups of liquid in the pan.


We’re going to reduce that Mountain Dew down to its intense, dewy essence. There are no rules on how to reduce Mountain Dew, so I made ‘em up: Pow! Boil that bad boy on high heat for about 15-20 minutes until about 3/4 cup of liquid remains.

During the 15 minutes when that’s boiling down, squeeze about 3-4 tablespoons of lime juice into a small bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Set that aside for later.


Check your boiling pan. When you have about 3/4 cup of molten Mountain Dew left, it’s time to move forward.


It may be hard to judge how much is in the pan, so you can use a heat-safe Pyrex glass measuring cup to check. That’s what I did.

Keeping the pan off of the heat, return The Dew to the saucepan, except for about 1/8 of a cup, which you will mix right into the cornstarch mixture. The goal is to get the cornstarch mixture warmed up a little.


Add cornstarch mixture to the pan, whisking it quickly, like you’re pedalling up an extreme hill on the BMX course. Don’t worry if you get flecks of lime goo on your face and apron — pretend it’s the mud you’re flinging onto the competitors behind you.



Return the mixture to medium or medium-high heat for just another minute or so, until it thickens up to the consistency of pudding. It will look a lot like lemon meringue pie filling at this point. This, my MD friends, is the basis for your Mountain Dew Goo. Pour it into a medium-sized bowl and set it aside while you make the cake batter.

Put all 5 of the batter ingredients into a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.

It should be thick, smooth, and creamy. Don’t eat it.

Take about 3/4 cup of the lemon batter and add it to the bowl of the Dew Goo.

Mix together and then add 14 drops of green food coloring.

Getting close. Now add 3 drops of yellow food coloring. Mix until the color is even. You can tweak it to be greener or yellower based on your personal preference. (I found this particular shade to be a nice balance against the yellow of the batter. Just one DewGirl’s opinion.)

Set the green goo aside while you fill all your muffin cups about 1/4 full with the yellow batter. I used foil muffin cups in silver and green, left over from Christmas; they were just so Dew-like.

On top of that layer, add an edge-to-edge layer of the green Mountain Dew Goo. This layer should bring each muffin cup up to about half full.Be sure to spread the green from edge to edge so you can’t see any of the yellow batter.

Top off each cupcake with a final layer of the yellow batter, making sure to cover the green entirely. I found the easiest way to do this was to spoon a circle of batter around the outer edge of the cup and then cover over the middle. Each cup should be pretty full, about 3/4 to 5/6 full.

Bake at 350 F for 17-21 minutes, until a toothpick test reveals a nicely raised (but still slightly moist) and spongy-set cake. During baking, something wild happens to that green layer, which gets all loopy, swirly and tossed around as the batter rises and expands. You’ll see what I mean when you take your first bite.

Set aside to cool completely. In the meantime, mix your frosting. Put the pre-made lemon frosting into a medium bowl. Mix in 3 drops of green and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. Feel free to tweak until you get the Mountain-Dew color that YOU like.

Add 3/4 cup of powdered (or confectioners) sugar. Mix until it’s completely lump-free.

Sprinkles make everything better. My opinion: These Mountain Dew Cupcakes just do NOT look extreme without some garish garnish on top. POW! Now THAT’S better!

You don’t HAVE TO refrigerate these, but they are so much more refreshing when you do. Chill off on a summer day with one of these bad boys. YEAH!

Keep your eyes on the prize: the one, the only, Mountain Dew Cupcake!! 

Mucho Margarita Blondie

April 10, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Chilled, Creative, Fruit, Holiday, Off the Beaten Path, Party, Salty-Sweet, Super-Simple


On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, celebrate with a light, sweet, tart, creamy, lime-bliss concoction that will knock your party socks off: the Mucho Margarita Blondie! PS – It’s one of the easiest recipes on this whole site!



  • White chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough, 16-ounce package
  • Whipped topping, 12-ounce tub, thawed
  • 6 ounces frozen-concentrated limeade, thawed (I used half of a 12-ounce can)
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup tequila
  • Optional food coloring, green and yellow
  • Optional garnish of flaked margarita salt or toasted flaked coconut

First, thaw both the frozen whipped topping and the frozen-concentrated limeade. While they’re thawing, you can bake the cookie crust and wait for it to cool.

If you love coconut and want to use it as a garnish, shake about 1/2 cup onto a cookie sheet in a thin layer. Bake at 350 F for about 5-7 minutes until it’s golden brown. Watch it carefully, because it will go from perfect to burned in a minute or two. Set coconut aside to use right when serving.

Into a greased 9×13-inch pan, spread the cookie dough, pressing it by hand into a thin layer. (If you want a thick crust, use a 9×9-inch pan and bake longer.)


Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until the edges turn a rich, crispy brown. Set aside until it’s cooled completely.


Now it’s time for the margarita part. This is so fast and easy, you will hardly believe it. In a bowl, add the thawed whipped topping (12 ounces), the thawed limeade (6 ounces), and the tequila (1/8 to 1/4 cup, depending on your taste). Stir with a rubber spatula until combined.


At this point, your margarita topping will be zingy, creamy, and refreshing — but maybe not as pretty as it could be. If you like, try adding 5 drops of green food coloring and 2-3 drops of yellow. You could use a lot more food coloring, if you like, but I tend to use less. Just aim for it to have YOUR idea of a perfect margarita-esque appearance.


Mix your margarita topping until it’s uniform in color. Pour your margarita topping over the cooled cookie crust and spread evenly.


Refrigerate for 30 minutes so it sets up a little. Cut into serving-sized pieces.

If you want to balance the zing of lime and tequila, garnish right before serving with a tiny pinch of flaked margarita salt or with a big handful of toasted flaked coconut.


That’s it! For your Cinco de Mayo party, go with a dessert that’s super simple, definitely delicious, and really refreshing: It’s the Mucho Margarita Blondie!

Cinco de Mayo Brownie – Key Lime Margarita Blondie

May 02, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Fruit, Holiday, Nut-Free, Salty-Sweet


This margarita-esque blonde brownie recipe is ready to be the main dessert at your Cinco de Mayo party!

The Key Lime Margarita Blonde Brownie is happy to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with you... on any day of the year!


Key Lime Margarita Brownie (alcohol-free)

January 09, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Fruit, Nut-Free


January schmanuary. I’m feeling tropical. Won’t you join me underneath this palm tree?

Cue the steel-drum band. The Key Lime Margarita Brownie deserves some good theme music.

Ahhh. These blonde brownie treats have a luscious key lime kick.

They’re not too sweet, a little gooey, and all impressive when you serve them to your gape-jawed guests.

And you can say, “Oh this? It’s just a little dessert I made in my spare time.”



  • 1 box (15-17 ounces) sugar cookie mix
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (use only 1/3 cup if using a “Splenda” brand)
  •  1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese (let soften outside of ‘frig for 5-10 mins)

Key Lime Filling

  • 15- to 20-ounce jar of lime curd or key lime pie filling (I used a 23-oz jar and had 1/2 c leftover)

Pre-baking Garnish Options (choose one of these three or make up your own)

  • Option 1 – Vanilla sugar (1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)
  • Option 2 - Graham crust (1/4 c crushed graham crackers and 2 T sugar)
  • Option 3 – Salt (1/2 tsp flaked margarita salt)

Some of these ingredients are optional. All of them are yummy.


Put the sugar cookie mix into a bowl and stir in the brown sugar.

Mix together the dry ingredients.

Melt 1 stick of butter in microwave for about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and 2 eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Butter makes everything better!

Using 2 eggs means you'll get a taller, fluffier brownie.

Blend in 1 package of softened cream cheese.

Mixing is easier if you slice the softened cream cheese as you add it to your batter.

Oh, yummy. Try to keep your finger-lickin' digits out of the bowl, please.

Spread your blonde batter into a greased 9×13 pan. An 8×8 pan is not big enough for this recipe! Now get your lime curd or key lime filling.

Deelish. May I suggest that you go for a key lime filling that is NOT green? In nature, the key lime is actually rather yellow. NOTE: If your store doesn't have key lime filling pre-made in a jar, you can probably find a dry mix to make it yourself in the pudding aisle...just do that in advance.

Now comes the fun part: Putting the key lime goo into the blonde brownie batter. One spoonful at a time, spoon the key lime filling into the batter, being sure to push the goo below the batter surface. Make sure every brownie will have several bites of lime flavor.

Push the goo down into the batter... you don't want it to just sit on the surface.

Use a knife to gently swirl together the blonde batter and the key lime goo.

Oh. My. This is where it starts getting a little exciting. Try not to drool in the pan.

Before baking, garnish with something wonderful of your choosing:

Garnish Option 1 – Vanilla sugar (1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)

The only thing that makes a sugar garnish better is to add vanilla to it. It gets richer and sweeter. And the sugar crystals gang up together to make little "sugar-clump colonies" that bake up crisply and dance on your tongue.

"Sugar" is to "brownie" as "smile" is to "people." I'm pretty sure that's an actual college-entrance-exam question.

Sprinkle the vanilla sugar on top of your blonde batter. So pretty!

Garnish Option 2 - Graham crust (1/4 c crushed graham crackers, 2 T sugar, 1 tsp vanilla)

Crush graham crackers using a plastic zippy bag and a rolling pin. Add sugar and vanilla. Shake the bag to mix it all together. Sprinkle over your batter.

Get out your aggression. Oh, yeah.

Hey, sugar.

Why dirty a dish, when you can just pour the vanilla right in there and shake the bag?

This is a lovely garnish option, especially if you're looking for a taste that is closer to a key lime pie. Yum!

Garnish Option 3 – Salt (1/2 tsp flaked margarita salt)

Pinch a few flakes of margarita salt and sprinkle them sparingly onto your batter. This'll give your blonde brownie a little margarita flair.

Sprinkle your garnish of choice onto the top of the batter. Then bake at 350 F for 35-45 mins (depends on your pan size and depth of batter), until a center-placed toothpick comes out moist but nearly clean.

Let cool for about 30 minutes so they set up before cutting. Now get out your hammock, tie it between two pieces of furniture, and enjoy your tropical treat! Ahhh.