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

Dreamy Apricot Blonde Brownies

August 31, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Fruit, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path


By now, you’re probably getting the impression that my brownies are my children. I love them all. And I hate to play favorites. But this one, this little lovely sun-colored gem, is quite special. It’s my site’s first blonde brownie. And it’s a doozy. My husband just had his fourth serving, and I made them just 3 hours ago. That means it ranks a “ten” on the IE Scale (Infinite Edibility Scale).

The Dreamy Apricot Blonde Brownie. Girly, yes. But men love it, too.


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

With a palatable pile like this to start from, how could you possibly go wrong?


Melt 1 stick of butter in microwave for about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and 2 eggs to sugar cookie mix and mix thoroughly.

Mmm, butter-n-eggs. A solid start to build from your box-mix base.

Blend in 1 package of softened cream cheese. It helps if you cut it into pieces before adding it to the bowl.

Cream cheese is a pretty, pretty addition to make your batter smooth and rich.

Add brown sugar and stir. Mix in macadamia nuts and spread into a greased 9×13 pan.

In my mind, it wouldn't be a blonde brownie without some brown sugar in it. And the macadamia nuts? Well, gosh, they just make everything better.

Put apricot preserves into a microwave-safe dish and warm it for 30 seconds so it’s easier to stir. Add cinnamon and mix completely.

I think apricot preserves are heavenly on toast, but even better in baking. And just a touch of cinnamon makes a big difference in this recipe.

Now comes the fun part. Putting the preserves into the batter. You have two choices of how to get it there:

a) Use a knife to make channels or deep swirls in your batter and spoon your preserves into the channels, or

b) One tablespoon at a time, spoon preserves onto the batter, burying the preserves below the surface, then use a knife to gently swirl the batter and preserves together.

I like to have fun with my food.

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 at least 30 minutes so they set up before cutting. Though they’re delicious when completely cooled, I highly suggest eating while they’re still warm. It’s like taking a bite right out of early autumn itself. Mmm.

The Dreamy Apricot Blonde Brownie, in all of its cheerful glory.

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!

YouTube Preview Image


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.