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?



Mardi Gras King Cake II (Coconut Brownie)

February 04, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Fun For Kids, Holiday, Party


The traditional New-Orleans-style King Cake is more like a cinnamon bread, but this coconut-and-chocolate ring has even more decadence, color, and flavor, so it will be perfect for your Mardi Gras party!


The inspiration for adding coconut comes from a Mardi Gras carnival krewe that has a popular “throwing-of-the-coconut” tradition, which drives Mardi Gras parade-goers wild! Over the years there were some coconut-related injuries at Mardi Gras, eventually leading to lawsuits and a reluctant discontinuation of the happy tradition for a year or two — until 1988, when the Louisiana governor signed into law the Coconut Bill, removing any liability from throwing a coconut during the Mardi Gras parade. Look, friends, I just blog about this stuff; I don’t make it up. So, HEADS UP! Here’s your recipe, comin’ at ya!



  • 1 box brownie mix (don’t use a mix with chocolate chips; they will stick to the bundt pan)
  • Eggs, oil, and water as directed on box (use the “extra egg recipe, usually a footnote)
  • Bundt cake pan prepared with cooking spray and 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 box coconut pudding (instant or cook)
  • Milk as called for on pudding box (usually 2 cups)
  • 3 T margarine
  • 1 ounce melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 1.5 to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • A few dribbles of milk
  • 3/4 tsp coconut extract
  • Sugar sprinkles in green, gold, and purple
  • Plastic “Baby Jesus” trinket, for adding after baking (remember, Mardi Gras leads to the Catholic tradition of Lenten season—so Jesus is a part of this celebration)


In a large bowl, mix together eggs, oil,and water. Add brownie mix and stir until all is combined. Prepare bundt pan first by spraying with cooking spray.


Finish preparing your pan by adding flour on top of the spray and shaking to coat all surfaces. Bang the pan against your counter to shake loose the excess flour and shake it out so you have a nice, thin, uniform layer of flour.



Pour batter into prepared pan.


Bake at 350 for about 25-35 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, looking for a nearly clean pull from the center. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and let it cool completely on a rack. Don’t let it cool entirely in the pan, as it will be harder to turn out of the pan.

Make coconut pudding as directed on the pudding box. I like the convenience of a no-cook mix.


Load your prepared coconut pudding into a pastry bag with a long tip or into an electric cookie press (just like the one a Brownie Ambassador might have on hand). You are about to inject the pudding into the brownie. <Certainly worthy of a trumpet flourish.>


Place the pretty, fluted part of the brownie face down, so you will be injecting the pudding from what will EVENTUALLY be the bottom of the brownie. This will let you leave the scars of entry on the bottom, completely invisible from your guests. Using the long tip, poke into the brownie every inch or so and move the tip around to make a cavity into which the pudding can flow. As you can see below, I made a TON of pokes into my brownie, using three rows of injections. Don’t be worried if you have some coconut pudding left over; you can remedy this by eating the pudding in your spare time. ;-)20130202-135031.jpg


Before you turn the brownie over to frost it, insert the plastic Baby Jesus trinket randomly into the treat. Here is the trinket, going in head first! I found my packet of 6 plastic babies at a national-chain hobby store that has sewing and baking supplies.

Turn your brownie ring over so the pretty fluted side is now up. You’re now ready to frost it. Smoosh margarine against the sides of a small bowl until it is soft and pliable.


Pour in the sugar and melted bittersweet chocolate. (I use “premelted” packets of bittersweet chocolate, as you can see below.)



When you try to mix it, it’ll be too thick to do anything with it. So add a few dribbles of milk until you can at least stir it into a smooth, thick, chocolatey frosting.


Add about 3/4 teaspoon of coconut extract, adding more or less to suit your taste. When you smell this heavenly homemade frosting, you’ll know what a treat is in store for you!


Spread this thick, coconutty icing on top of your King Ring, allowing it to slowly ooze down the sides. Quickly, while icing is still wet, sprinkle with the three colors of sugar sprinkles in a pattern that will please your Mardi Crew.



When you serve your King Cake, remind your guests to be careful until the inedible plastic baby trinket is found. The person who discovers the Baby Jesus in their piece is the King (or Queen) of your Mardi Gras festivities. May I suggest that you make a paper crown, just for your event?! Fun! Here’s my friend Katy, wearing the QK (“Queen Katie”) crown I made for her. Isn’t she gorgeous?

There is joy for the person you crown, but also responsibility; tradition deems that this year’s royalty must bring a King Cake to next year’s party! I hope you have fun making and serving this coconut-and-chocolate version of a Mardi Gras King Cake!

Adorable Sushi Brownie

April 28, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Creative, Decadent, Fruit, Fun For Kids, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path


These cute little bite-sized brownies LOOK like sushi but taste like a sweet tropical sunrise. Below, you’ll see how to do 2 flavor combinations: banana split sushi and kiwi-mango sushi. (But you can make up your own flavors!) This is a creative, super-fun idea that’s sure to get big applause at dessert time!

Kiwi, mango, and a toasted walnut float on a cloud of banana pudding, cupped in the sweet embrace of a tiny brownie. Sugar sprinkles masquerade as "rice." So cute!


Mini muffin pan(s)

1 box brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)

Egg(s), oil, and water as stated on the box instructions



1 pkg of 4 Snack Pack pre-made pudding cups, banana cream flavor

1 cup of large walnut pieces or halves, toasted

About 1/3 cup pineapple preserves (I used Smuckers)

About 15-20 maraschino cherries, coarsely chopped

Coarse sugar sprinkles (white color, to mimic the look of rice)



1 pkg of 4 Snack Pack pre-made pudding cups, banana cream flavor

1 cup of large walnut pieces or halves, toasted

2-3 kiwis, peeled and cut into small strips

1 mango, peeled and cut into small strips

Coarse sugar sprinkles (white color, to mimic the look of rice)

Here are the ingredients for the Banana Split Sushi Brownie.

Make brownie batter according to box directions. Spoon batter into a well-greased mini-muffin pan, filling each cup about 7/8 full, nearly all the way.

To get good-sized sushi, fill your cups almost all the way with batter.

Bake as directed on box, but for a MUCH shorter time. My brownie-ettes needed only about 12 minutes. Test with a toothpick until it comes out almost clean.
While the oven is hot, place walnuts on a cookie sheet and toast them for 5-6 minutes at 350 F. Remove and let cool.
When brownies have cooled, carefully remove from pan. Using a sharp knife, cut out the middle of each brownie. I also had good success using a “melon-baller” utensil. Dig out a hole as large as you can, while keeping the sides intact. Be sure not to cut all the way down through the bottom.
What to do with the middles? Well, of course, you can eat them while  you work. Or, if you like, you can set aside the middles and frost them with green frosting so they look like piles of the sushi condiment called “wasabi.” (After eating their sushi brownies, your guests can wash it down with the extra bite of wasabi. Ridiculous fun, isn’t it?)
To start, stir your pudding cup. Mine was “banana cream” flavor, and it had 2 layers of 2 different colors, so I wanted to mix the layers for consistent color and flavor from one sushi piece to the next.
Add just 1/2 teaspoon of pudding into the bottom of each brownie.
Place a toasted walnut in the middle.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of pineapple preserves.
Add a piece or two of chopped maraschino cherry.
Add a ring of pudding around the edge, leaving your pretty fruit and nuts peeking out of the middle, just like a sushi roll.
At this point, you can store your treats in the frig for up to a few hours. Then, just before serving, add a garnish that will really take it over the top. To add the appearance of “rice,” shake some sugar sprinkles (white colored, of course) if you have them.
Serve with chopsticks and wait for the gasps and adoration.
As above, begin with a small amount of banana pudding in the bottom of each brownie.
Add a walnut, plus a piece or two of both mango and kiwi.
Add a ring of pudding around the edge, leaving the pretty stuff in the middle showing, just like a sushi roll.
At this point, you can store your treats in the frig for up to a few hours. Then, just before serving, add a garnish that will really take it over the top. To add the appearance of “rice,” shake some sugar sprinkles (white colored, of course) if you have them.

So cute!

I made both flavors at once, and it made for a very pretty presentation!
Enjoy trying your sushi brownies at your next big gathering, and let me know which flavor you liked best: banana split or mango-kiwi!

EggNog Swirl Brownie

December 14, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Holiday, Nut-Free, Super-Simple


A little chocolatey. A little…uh… noggy. All wonderful. For a change of pace this year, put something in the cookie exchange that gets people talking: “Oh, that’s a cute idea!” You won’t believe how EASY it is. Just a few boxes and a few minutes of romping in the kitchen, then into the oven and done. Look at her; isn’t she holi-dazzling?

"You got me an EggNog Swirl Brownie? It's beautiful! Thank you!"


  • 1 box Pillsbury Cheesecake Swirl brownie mix


  • Chocolate (dark) pouch from Pillsbury box
  • 1/3 c oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 egg


  • Cheesecake (light) pouch from Pillsbury box
  • 2 boxes custard pudding mix (I used the 3.9 oz cook-n-serve box, but instant is fine too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (note: AllergicChild.com confirms that nutmeg is not a nut; it’s a spice)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, if desired
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk (or use egg nog if you have it on hand)

Just a few ingredients, just a few minutes in the kitchen. You'll love this recipe!


So easy. Just wait until you see how fast you get back to wrapping gifts!

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In one bowl, add the chocolate Pillsbury pouch, egg, oil, and water. Mix until smooth. Set bowl aside.

In another bowl, mix the white Pillsbury pouch with the 2 pudding boxes. Then add egg, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp of milk or egg nog. Mix until smooth. Mix in another tablespoon or two of milk or nog, and mix until the eggnog batter is similar in consistency to the chocolate batter.

Pour the chocolate batter into a greased pan. I used an 11 x 7 inch pan (77 sq in) and ended up wishing for a slightly taller brownie — so, I suggest an 8 x 8 inch pan (64 sq in). One spoonful at a time, push the eggnog batter down into the chocolate batter, then artfully swirl the batters together with a knife.

Swirl the two batters together so that each brownie will have a pretty top and some of both flavors. Don't get too enthusiastic or you'll end up with "solid grey" instead of "gold and brown."

Bake according to box, but add a few minutes to the baking time since the pudding mix adds to the amount of batter. When a toothpick in the center comes out almost clean, remove from oven. Cool and serve.

Swirly, pretty, chewy, Christmassy. Your guests will love this treat!

OPTIONAL BUT AWESOME: Make a glitzy little glaze to pour over top. Mix together 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon, and slowly add small amounts of either bourbon or rum or brandy until it makes a drizzly glaze. Enjoy!!!!

I think this would be awesome with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch topping. Just sayin’.