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

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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!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 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
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DIRECTIONS
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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

Blarney Brownie

March 16, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path, Party

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On Saint Patrick’s Day, you want a green dessert that will dazzle your guests both with taste and a good old Irish sense of humor — so serve the Blarney Brownie. (Blarney means, among several definitions, “deceptive nonsense.”) See, the Blarney Brownie is a little like the concept of green beer; your guests will see “green” but they’ll taste “cherry!” In this recipe, some Leprechaun trickery and green maraschino cherries will ensure that blarney never tasted so good!

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BATTER INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box frosting-included brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as called for on the box mix (I like the “extra egg” version, usually a footnote on the box)

FILLING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) marshmallow topping (the kind you drizzle over ice cream)
  • 1/3 cup juice from a jar of GREEN maraschino cherries (not the traditional red)
  • GREEN maraschino cherries, about 20
  • 5-10 drops of green food coloring
  • Green sprinkles

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Green maraschino cherries. They’re not in EVERY store, so call ahead! I found mine right next to the red ones.

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DIRECTIONS
Open box mix and set aside the fudge icing packet, which you’ll use after the baking. Be careful when buying your brownie mix for this recipe. Don’t confuse a “put-the-fudge-packet-INTO-the-batter” mix with a “put-the-fudge-packet-ON-TOP-OF-the-baked-brownie” mix. (The into-the-batter packets are usually not very sweet and won’t work as a frosting.)

Pour powdered brownie mix into a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and water to the brownie mix. Stir thoroughly. Spread 75% of the chocolate batter into a greased pan, setting aside 25% for later.

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In a medium bowl, place cream cheese and marshmallow topping. Mix with an electric beater on medium or medium-high speed until completely mixed, or about 1 minute.

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Add 1/3 cup of the green maraschino cherry juice. Mix on low speed (to avoid splattering), and it will turn a light, pastel green. Look, “light green” is cute, but I don’t think it’s green enough to feel REALLY celebratory, so I mixed in 7 drops of green food coloring, which gave it a lovely springy color for Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Cut the green maraschino cherries into big, chunky pieces — not too small. I chopped mine into halves and thirds. Pretty!

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Pour 2/3 of the creamy green batter in an even layer over the brownie batter that’s in the pan. Then evenly sprinkle the green cherry pieces over that.

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Pour the remaining 1/3 of the green batter on top of the cherries.

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Use the remaining 25% of chocolate brownie batter to drizzle over top of the green batter. This will be your top crust.

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Bake according to the box directions, but be sure to add another 10-15 minutes, since you’ve added a whole layer in there. Be watchful. It’s hard to do a “toothpick” test to check for doneness, because the green middle layer stays wet and gooey. Just try to reach a moment when the center of the pan is no longer wet and jiggly. Also, watch for the four corners to begin getting crusty and dry. You’ll probably notice some puffing up on all four edges; that is the chocolate brownie batter rising around the green batter. (The green batter has no eggs in it, so it will not rise or puff up.) When done, remove from oven and allow to cool. Don’t worry if it looks a little like a barren planet surface; we will be covering it up with frosting and sprinkles!

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When brownies are completely cool, it’s time to frost. Soften the fudge icing packet by placing it under hot tap water for 30 seconds. Knead packet in your hands to mix the packet’s contents. Cut away a corner of the packet and squeeze frosting over brownie crust. Spread the frosting in a thin layer over your cooled brownies. Quickly, while the frosting is still wet, decorate with green sugar sprinkles.

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There she is, your shamrock-green St. Patty’s Day Blarney Brownie, a deceitful cherry-flavored treat for everyone who has a little Irish in ‘em!

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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

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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.”

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INGREDIENTS

  • 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)

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DIRECTIONS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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

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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!

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Strawberry Triple-Cream Brownie

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

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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.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 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)

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DIRECTIONS

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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