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

For Easter – Peeps Brownie Pond

April 08, 2014 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party


Visit this delightful “pond,” coming to a trifle bowl near you: It’s the Easter-time Peeps Brownie Pond, complete with colorful jelly fish, blue pudding waves, and swimming Marshmallow Peeps chicks on top! This one is super-fun for kids.

The recipe is right here: Peeps Brownie Pond.




Nutty Zebra Brownies

September 26, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Nutty


These zebra brownies get their stripes from marshmallow and Nutella hazelnut spread — and, best of all, no zebra were harmed in this recipe! The black-and-white pattern is fun to make with kids and memorable to serve for a special event. Here she is in all her animal-print glory: The Nutty Zebra Brownie.



  • 1 box brownie mix
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box directions
  • Approximately 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • Approximately 1/3 cup hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)20120926-120343.jpg


Mix and bake brownie batter according to box directions. Allow to cool. While the oven is hot, toast your chopped hazelnuts for about 4 minutes at 350 F, until they smell roasty and rich. Set the hazelnuts aside for later.

When brownies are cooled, cut them into serving sizes. Don’t be tempted to skip this step. If you choose to spread marshmallow on top of un-cut brownies, cutting it later gets very tricky. Tricky and sticky! So, cut your brownies first.


Move the cut brownies to a place from which you can easily frost, store, and serve them. Separate them by at least a half-inch so the marshmallow goo from one brownie will not touch the goo from the neighboring brownie. Next, spoon about a cup of marshmallow fluff into a bowl or measuring cup and stir it until it’s smooth.



Place about a teaspoon of marshmallow fluff onto each brownie and spread. To save some time and create a bit of an assembly-line approach, I got into a “4-brownies-at-a-time” groove. I scooped and spooned fluff onto 4 brownies and then I spread it with the knife. Then I spooned onto 4 more and then spread that. The fluff begins to stiffen up after about a minute, so you don’t want to spoon too many at a time. Here is my spoon-and-spread action: 20120926-120551.jpg

Using a knife, stir the hazelnut spread until it’s smooth. Pull up a thick strand of hazelnut spread and drag it diagonally across the marshmallow topping in a zebra-like pattern. 20120926-120816.jpg

At this point, you have the option of keeping your zebra print intact or adding the extra yum (and the added ker-unch) of some toasted, chopped hazelnuts.


It’s so cute, so sweet, and so memorable! It’s the Nutty Zebra Brownie, starring marshmallow fluff, hazelnuts, and Nutella.

20120926-120850.jpg 20120926-120959.jpgIf you like hazelnut, you may like these recipes:

Brownie Waffle with Hazelnut-Cafe Whip

Oh, joy. It's the Brownie Waffle with Hazelnut-Cafe Whip. Does it get any better than this?

Nutella-Kahlua Brownie Truffles

If you like marshmallow, you may like these recipes:

S’mores Brownie

Who needs kindling and firewood when you can have the best part of a bonfire right in your kitchen?

Elvis Brownie (made with MallowCups) 

Who says, "There's only ONE ELVIS?" I count two of them: The Vegas Elvis (left, pan-fried) and The Graceland Elvis (right, pan-free).

Peeps Brownie Pond – A Scoopable Easter Treat

March 29, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Creative, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path


It’s Easter season and time to make a brownie recipe that features those kooky, adorable Peeps marshmallow treats. Looky! It’s a brownie pond… Let’s jump in!

Thanks to Jaime Santillan for the adorable studio shot above. Jaime takes amazing photos.

Five-year-old Ella, my friend's daughter, is mesmerized by the peeps and the fish. Such a wonderful Easter moment here!


  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Pillsbury Dark Chocolate in the “13 x 9 family size”)
  • Oil, eggs, and water as directed on box
  • Jelly fruit slices, about 20
  • 1 box pudding mix, white chocolate or vanilla flavor (I used Jell-O White Chocolate)
  • 2 cups of cold milk, any % is fine
  • Blue food coloring, 10-20 droplets
  • 1 16-ounce tub Cool Whip topping
  • Marshmallow Peeps Chicks
  • Fun garnishes (may I suggest some daffodil leaves and a tiny grape hyacinth?)


Mix brownies as directed on box, using the “extra egg” version of the recipe. I also suggest using a 13×9 family-size box, as you’ll need as much brownie as possible to fill your trifle bowl.

Pour batter into a greased pan, bake as directed on box, and let brownies cool. You can do the next few steps while brownies are baking or while they are cooling.

Mix instant pudding with cold milk and about 3 drops of blue food coloring.

Pudding mix + milk + blue food coloring = An equation for pudding greatness

Whisk as directed on box.

Mmmm. Pond water never looked so delicious.

At first, your pudding may be blue-green rather than straight blue, because most light-colored puddings are a bit yellow-ish. Don’t worry; a few more drops of blue coloring will help. Whisk in a few more drops at a time until you’re happy with the color. After a few minutes of whisking, the pudding will be thick. Put it in the refrigerator while you do the next few steps.

Cut your jelly candies into fish shapes. Start by cutting the jelly in half.

Cut in half, revealing the SUPER-STICKY inside of the candy.

Then make a few cuts to create the appearance of a fish body and tail fin. My advice is: “Cut away everything that doesn’t look like a fish.” If that’s not enough direction for you, remember that all you need to do is cut away 4 tiny triangles. Follow the 4 easy steps below.

Cut #1: Create the top of the body and top of the tail.

Cut #2: Create the bottom of the body and bottom of the tail.


Cut #3: Create a notch in the tail.

Cut #4: If you're feeling particularly chipper, cut a smile into the fishie's face.

One by one, stick your fish onto the inside of the trifle bowl, about 1 inch above the bottom. The gooey jelly will serve as a very strong adhesive against the glass.

"Hi, I'm a green fish!" "Hi, I'm an orange fish!" "Do you smell brownies?" "Yep!"


Cats like this recipe. A lot.

Here's what your ring of fish should look like.

Crumble one-third to one-half of your cooled brownies into the trifle bowl. Set aside the remaining one-half to two-thirds of brownie to use in a higher layer.

Try to resist the urge to scarf those brownies. You'll need all those crumbles to fill up your trifle bowl.

It’s OK to use bigger brownie chunks in the center of the bowl, but when you get near the fish, use fine, small crumbles to fit in the crevices between the fish. It will make your fish stand out better.

By using smaller crumbles near your fish, you will help those cute little fishy features (fins, smiles) stand out better.

Get in the frig’. (Not literally. Don’t be silly.) Get out the blue pudding and pour it in an even layer over the brownie crumbs.

Yum. I love pudding and brownie together.

It's starting to get REALLY CUTE in that dish!

Add another layer of fish.

More fish = more awesome!

Add the rest of your crumbled brownies.

Again, be sure you use the finer brownie crumbles near the side so you can clearly see the outline of your fishy masterpieces.

Add 3-4 drops of blue food coloring into the Cool Whip. Mix. You can add more coloring until you achieve the color you want for your pond surface.

You could use plain white Cool Whip for your pond surface, but I liked the idea of adding some more color.

Pour 90% of the blue Cool Whip onto your brownie surface.

Reserve about 10% of the Cool Whip so you can add some extra color.

In the remaining 10% of Cool Whip, add 1 or 2 more drops of blue color. Don’t mix it in. Instead, spoon the unmixed blob of Cool Whip and color onto the top of your pond.

Here is how you make pretty blue ripples on your pond.

Without mixing too much, use a spoon to make round, sweeping swirls on your pond surface. The food coloring will create a nice medium-blue ripple in your light-blue pond water. Cute!

The ripples are there, but what's missing? Something to swim on them!

Add your marshmallow Peeps as floating decor on the surface of your Easter pond.

Aww. These little darlings are just icing on the cake.

Keep refrigerated. Just before serving, my marshmallow Peeps looked like they needed company on top of their Easter brownie pond, so I also added a few fresh leaves and flowers from my spring garden.

I hope you all have a happy springtime. This recipe is a great way to kick off the season with some "quality time with the kids."


Gingerbread Fluff Brownie

December 21, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nutty


Get ready to share this recipe because your guests’ll want to know.

Look at all of that NorthPole Goodness atop this glorious holiday treat!



  • One box gingerbread mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened


  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • Half of a 10 oz tub of marshmallow fluff
  • 1/4 c confectioners sugar


In a medium bowl, stir together the gingerbread mix, egg, melted butter, and water.

Start your batter off by adding an egg.

Butter makes everything better. Even gingerbread fluff.

Add cream cheese and stir until smooth.

The cream cheese will help give your gingerbread a more brownie-like consistency.

Spread batter into a 9×9-inch pan (nonstick or greased).

This batter is rich and fragrant.

Bake at 350 for 28-35 mins, until a toothpick comes out almost clean. While your brownies are cooling, you can make your gorgeous garnish.

In a medium bowl, mix your chopped walnuts with the cinnamon and cloves.

Mix walnuts with those two Christmassy spices.

Take your tub of marshmallow fluff and scoop out about half, or about 1.5 to 2 cups, into a microwave-safe bowl. (I’m not using a specific measured amount because fluff is hard to measure — its volume changes when handled because the air puffs out of it.) Pop it into the microwave for 20 seconds, just long enough for it to be mixable. Stir nuts into the bowl of fluff until it’s evenly mixed together.

Stir with purpose. You are creating greatness here.

Pop the mixture back into the microwave for another 20 seconds so it is smooth enough to spread. Spread over gingerbread crust. Work quickly because the fluffy mixture will cool and stiffen.

I suggest doing this step while sitting down, just in case your knees buckle.

For a sweet, snowy North Pole effect, sprinkle your nutty gingerbread landscape with confectioners sugar. I used a sifter and it created a nice, thin layer. Don’t create a completely solid layer of sugar. If you allow some of the shiny fluff to be visible, it creates a “moonlight shining on snow” effect.

On behalf of Santa, elves, polar bears, and penguins, allow me to thank you for your artfulness as you execute this final step.

So cute… so festive! Based on experience, I suggest keeping these brownies in the pan until just before serving. Once you cut the brownies and plate them, the semi-stiff fluff likes to sloooooowly creep southward. After cutting, try to serve them within 15 minutes or so. 

Happy holidays to all of my brownie friends and family!


From OutOufTheBoxBrownies.com to your family -- I wish the finest and funnest of things for you during your holiday time together! Share the brownie love!