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

Bread Pudding Blondies with Whisky-Cream Sauce

May 24, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Blonde Brownie, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nut-Free, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Party


You’ll be so dang pleased with yourself when you make this de-freakin’-licious recipe, so just get on it right now: It’s time to introduce your mouth to the fantasy-revelation of bread pudding blondies with a homemade whisky-cream sauce with toasted pecans. (The whisky is optional, but highly recommended.)

I’m salivating as I type this. Seriously.


The amazing thing is that it all starts with a charmingly affordable mini-box of Jiffy brand yellow cake mix! Yep, that’s what I said. It’s probably less than a buck at your local market. Ain’t it cute?



  • 8-9 cups stale bread, cut into cubes (I bought a 24-ounce sourdough loaf and used 3/4 of it)
  • 1 small box Jiffy yellow cake mix (9 ounces, or about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp rum flavor or rum extract
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh, soft raisins


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Half & Half (or whipping cream, if you want it richer)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2-3 ounces whisky (or you can substitute 1 Tbsp rum extract + 1 tsp vanilla)
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped




Cut your stale bread into about 1-inch cubes until you have about 8-9 cups. (If your bread isn’t stale, cut into cubes and expose them to air for a few hours. Stale bread does a better job of soaking up your golden delicious batter.)

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the dry cake mix with the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. I like to use a fresh nutmeg and grate it myself; it makes my kitchen smell so good!

Add the eggs, oil, rum extract, and milk into the mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for about 2 minutes on medium. This is your blondie batter.


Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Put all your bread cubes into the pan and then pour all of the blondie batter over top, evenly distributing the batter so the bread will soak it up, leaving no overly dry bread cubes.


While the bread is soaking, sprinkle the top with raisins. It’s looking good, isn’t it?


Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, try the toothpick test. Insert the toothpick into the center and look at how wet or dry the toothpick looks. If it’s glossy wet, it needs more time. If some small, moist pieces cling to the toothpick, the blondies are done (see photo below).


The goal is to pull the blondies from the oven before the toothpick comes out completely clean and dry, which would indicate over-baking. (But this recipe has cream sauce, so if you overbake it, you’re still OK; you can pile on the cream sauce and still call it perfectly delicious!) Set the blondies aside and let them cool.

Now it’s time to make the cream sauce. Start by setting aside 1/4 cup of half & half into a small bowl. Pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups of half & half into a medium saucepan.


Add sugar to the saucepan. Mix and cook over medium heat just until it bubbles, stirring occasionally.

While waiting for the sugar and cream to boil, mix 2 T of cornstarch into the 1/4 cup of half & half that you set aside in the bowl. Mix together; this is called a slurry.


When the half & half reaches a light boil, pour in the cornstarch mixture and keep cooking on medium heat.


In a minute or two, your cream sauce will be nice and thick. Now add the whisky (or rum extract + vanilla), the butter, and the toasted/chopped pecans. Mix it all together.


If it’s too thick, you can add a few teaspoons of milk, water, or whisky to thin it out.

If it’s too thin for your preference, mix up another slurry of cornstarch-plus-liquid in a one-to-three ratio. You can use 1 Tbsp of cornstarch plus 3 Tbsp of water, or cornstarch plus milk, or cornstarch plus whisky, or cornstarch plus half & half. Add the slurry to the saucepan and cook on medium for another minute or two until it thickens up. (Never add powdered cornstarch by itself; it can create sticky lumps.)

To serve, cut a piece of bread pudding and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Generously dollop some of that rich, smoky, warm cream sauce right on top. You might even put the cream sauce into a gravy boat and let your guests top their own! So decadent! Store leftover blondies and cream sauce in the refrigerator.

Oh, people. I’m swooning for this guest-worthy recipe. Just look at that photo. How can anyone resist the beauty and the crave-ability of this Bread Pudding Blondie with Whisky-Cream Sauce?



Bacon Brownie with Maple-Pecan Frosting

September 10, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Salty-Sweet


Butter-y, maple-y, nutty, and bacon-y joys abound, bite after bite, in this brownie fit for royalty. For you doubters out there, yes, bacon DOES go with brownie. For a few years now, it’s been rather stylish to pair bacon with just about anything, including chocolate. In fact, TWO of my friends (unbeknownst to the other) came up to me in recent months and pretty much said, “You’ve gotta make a bacon-and-maple brownie.” For the awesome, bacon-y suggestion, my thanks go out: to Kris Early, of Bella Beads Studio, and to my central-Ohio-homegrown-rock-star-and-X-Factor-Finalist, Josh Krajcik.


  • 1 box mix of brownies
  • Eggs, as called for on the box
  • Oil, as called for on the box
  • Water, as called for on the box


  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple-flavored pancake syrup (I used Hungry Jack Lite Butter)
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar, more or less to get consistency you want
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked and drained (I used Sugardale, my father-in-law’s favorite bacon)

Mix and bake brownies as directed on box. While your brownies are baking, pan-fry your bacon and place cooked bacon on paper towels to let the excess fat drain.

When brownies are done, remove from oven and let them cool completely. While the oven is still warm, place the coarsely chopped pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them for 3 to 5 minutes at 350 F. If you skip this pecan-toasting step, you’ll have to pretend that your frosting has the same level of “ROWR” that can be achieved only via toasting. After about 4 minutes in the oven, your pecans will smell all rich and roasty and toasty. Remove them from the oven and let cool.

Place the butter in a medium bowl. Using the backside of a spoon, smoosh the butter against the sides of the bowl to smooth it out. Smooooooosh!

Mix in the maple syrup. It will look a little gross. Kind of shiny and flecky and slimy. No worries.

Sift your confectioner’s sugar and add it to the bowl. Mix until smooth. It’ll probably still look a little gross. No worries.

Add toasted pecans and mix. It’s going to start looking kind of delicious. Resist the urge to spoon it by the tablespoon into your mouth.

Take 9 of the 12 slices of cooked bacon and chop them coarsely. (Set aside the other 3 slices of bacon to use as a garnish later.) Add the 9 chopped bacon pieces to the frosting bowl and stir completely.

There’s your bacon frosting, my brownie friends. Pour this lumpy, bumpy, smoky, sultry frosting onto the cooled brownies. Spread it into a uniform layer. Do not stick your face onto the surface and begin a hands-free eating session.

Garnish by tearing up the 3 slices of cooked bacon that you set aside. Artfully place the torn bacon pieces on top of the frosting.

Keep refrigerated until serving.

There it is, brownie admirers from around the globe. It’s the Bacon Brownie with Maple-Pecan Frosting, a dessert that will astonish, delight, and satisfy all of the bacon lovers in your life.

If you like this recipe, you may also like these recipes:

Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie

Butterscotch Blondies with Sauteed Pecans

Butterscotch Blonde Brownies

June 15, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path, Salty-Sweet


Buttery, salty, sweet, toasty, nutty: this Butterscotch Blonde Brownie is a winning combination.



  • 1 box (15-17 ounces) sugar cookie mix
  • 1 box butterscotch pudding 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)
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 1.5 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup (1/2 bag) of butterscotch chips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Mix dry pudding mix with sugar cookie mix.

Add 1/2 cup melted butter, eggs, water, and softened cream cheese. (It helps if you let the cream cheese soften and slice it as you add it to the bowl.)

Spread batter into a greased pan.

Set the pan aside.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in skillet on medium heat. (Don’t use high heat; that won’t help. Medium or a half-notch above it is your best friend for this recipe.)

To the hot butter, add pecans. Stirring occasionally, sauté the pecans on medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t overcook it; you’ll know you’re done when you get a nice, rich, toasty smell. Oooh, bubbly!

Evenly pour the butter/pecan mixture onto your blondie batter. You’ll see a lot of buttery liquid goodness in there; try to distribute it evenly, across the surface.

Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the pecan layer, making sure you get all the edges, corners, and middle areas evenly.

Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the pan. Test it with a toothpick, looking for an almost-clean pick pulled from the middle area. When done, remove from oven.

Cool completely.

Though you could serve it now, naked, may I suggest that this nutty combo brownie is just not butterscotchy enough? I HIGHLY recommend that you take 1 cup of butterscotch chips, 2 Tbsp of oil, and melt them in the microwave (about 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chips are melted). When smooth, drizzle that golden-scotchy nectar on top of that crispy, salty pecan layer. You’ll be glad you did. So, so glad.

You’re done. Aren’t you delighted? This recipe is such an unexpected charmer when it’s served. Your guests will definitely ask you for details. You will especially love how the salty, crispy, toasted, buttery, sautéed pecans add a perfect snap to the top of the Butterscotch Blonde Brownie!

Father’s Day Brownie: Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie

June 11, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Alcohol, Creative, Decadent, Nutty


The smoky, sweet, rich cream sauce will make your kitchen smell heavenly, and the resulting Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie ensures that your friends will never forget to invite you to Wednesday night poker. Don’t be concerned if whisky isn’t your thing; you can control just how much “zing” your brownie has!




  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker Original Supreme)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on the box


  • 1.5 cups (12 ounces) heavy whipping cream (it’s OK to use half cream, half milk)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces Whisky (or Whiskey…the spelling depends on what country it’s from)
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 more ounces of Whisky
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1.5 cups pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted


Chop pecans into coarse pieces. (In the photos, you’ll see that I chopped mine a bit too small.) Toast the pecan pieces on a cookie sheet at 350 F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Mix brownie batter as directed on the box, pour into a greased pan, and set aside.

Pour the cream into a medium sauce pan, add the sugar, and stir well.


Add a pinch of salt. Or two. Yum.


Make a “slurry” by thoroughly mixing the cornstarch into two ounces of the Whisky. (Later in the recipe, you will use 2 more ounces of Whisky.)


Pour your Whisky-cornstarch slurry into the cream and stir well.


On medium heat, bring the mixture until it begins to boil, stirring constantly. When it boils, reduce the heat so it doesn’t scald the cream. Cook at medium-low for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your Whisky-cream sauce will thicken up, and it will smell heavenly. Remove from heat, and add the remaining 2 ounces of Whisky to the cooked mixture.


Add the butter and stir until it has melted into the sauce.


Add the toasted pecans.


Stir in the pecans. Oh, my. Delightful. (Do not drink all of this sauce straight out of the pan; you will regret it later when you will be forced to eat plain brownies.)


You have two options at this point.

1) You may pour the Whisky-pecan-cream sauce over the unbaked brownie batter in a stunning “top layer,” and then bake it.


Or, 2) You may put spoonfuls of the Whisky-pecan-cream sauce on top of the unbaked brownie batter, swirl them with a knife to make delightful veins of Whisky-pecan goodness, and then bake.



Whether you choose 1 or 2 above, use a 350 F oven. You will be one happy camper in about 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick, looking for a fairly clean pull from a prick in the middle of the pan. Remove from oven. Keep in mind, some of your Whisky will evaporate during baking. So, might I petition that you use a Whisky-laced pastry brush to add just a tad more of that golden flavor to the top crust? Just a suggestion.


It’s pretty. It’s manly. It’s pretty manly. It’s the Whisky-Pecan-Cream Brownie, sure to make any dad happy during Father’s Day dessert.