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

Key Lime Margarita Brownie (alcohol-free)

January 09, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Creative, Fruit, Nut-Free


January schmanuary. I’m feeling tropical. Won’t you join me underneath this palm tree?

Cue the steel-drum band. The Key Lime Margarita Brownie deserves some good theme music.

Ahhh. These blonde brownie treats have a luscious key lime kick.

They’re not too sweet, a little gooey, and all impressive when you serve them to your gape-jawed guests.

And you can say, “Oh this? It’s just a little dessert I made in my spare time.”



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

Key Lime Filling

  • 15- to 20-ounce jar of lime curd or key lime pie filling (I used a 23-oz jar and had 1/2 c leftover)

Pre-baking Garnish Options (choose one of these three or make up your own)

  • Option 1 – Vanilla sugar (1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)
  • Option 2 - Graham crust (1/4 c crushed graham crackers and 2 T sugar)
  • Option 3 – Salt (1/2 tsp flaked margarita salt)

Some of these ingredients are optional. All of them are yummy.


Put the sugar cookie mix into a bowl and stir in the brown sugar.

Mix together the dry ingredients.

Melt 1 stick of butter in microwave for about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and 2 eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Butter makes everything better!

Using 2 eggs means you'll get a taller, fluffier brownie.

Blend in 1 package of softened cream cheese.

Mixing is easier if you slice the softened cream cheese as you add it to your batter.

Oh, yummy. Try to keep your finger-lickin' digits out of the bowl, please.

Spread your blonde batter into a greased 9×13 pan. An 8×8 pan is not big enough for this recipe! Now get your lime curd or key lime filling.

Deelish. May I suggest that you go for a key lime filling that is NOT green? In nature, the key lime is actually rather yellow. NOTE: If your store doesn't have key lime filling pre-made in a jar, you can probably find a dry mix to make it yourself in the pudding aisle...just do that in advance.

Now comes the fun part: Putting the key lime goo into the blonde brownie batter. One spoonful at a time, spoon the key lime filling into the batter, being sure to push the goo below the batter surface. Make sure every brownie will have several bites of lime flavor.

Push the goo down into the batter... you don't want it to just sit on the surface.

Use a knife to gently swirl together the blonde batter and the key lime goo.

Oh. My. This is where it starts getting a little exciting. Try not to drool in the pan.

Before baking, garnish with something wonderful of your choosing:

Garnish Option 1 – Vanilla sugar (1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)

The only thing that makes a sugar garnish better is to add vanilla to it. It gets richer and sweeter. And the sugar crystals gang up together to make little "sugar-clump colonies" that bake up crisply and dance on your tongue.

"Sugar" is to "brownie" as "smile" is to "people." I'm pretty sure that's an actual college-entrance-exam question.

Sprinkle the vanilla sugar on top of your blonde batter. So pretty!

Garnish Option 2 - Graham crust (1/4 c crushed graham crackers, 2 T sugar, 1 tsp vanilla)

Crush graham crackers using a plastic zippy bag and a rolling pin. Add sugar and vanilla. Shake the bag to mix it all together. Sprinkle over your batter.

Get out your aggression. Oh, yeah.

Hey, sugar.

Why dirty a dish, when you can just pour the vanilla right in there and shake the bag?

This is a lovely garnish option, especially if you're looking for a taste that is closer to a key lime pie. Yum!

Garnish Option 3 – Salt (1/2 tsp flaked margarita salt)

Pinch a few flakes of margarita salt and sprinkle them sparingly onto your batter. This'll give your blonde brownie a little margarita flair.

Sprinkle your garnish of choice onto the top of the batter. Then 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 about 30 minutes so they set up before cutting. Now get out your hammock, tie it between two pieces of furniture, and enjoy your tropical treat! Ahhh.

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’.




Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

July 09, 2011 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Candy Bar, Peanut Butter, Salty-Sweet


It's like a molten explosion of peanut-butter lava.


  • 1 box Pillsbury Cheesecake Swirl brownie mix
  • 1/3 c oil
  • 2 eggs (1 for brownie batter, 1 for cheesecake batter)
  • Small amounts of water
  • 3/4 c peanut butter
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (5-6 regular size, 20-25 mini size)
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts (optional)


Follow box instructions using oil, 3 T. water, and 1 egg to mix chocolate batter until smooth. If desired, mix in peanuts. Pour into greased pan. Set aside. Lick spoon if necessary, and be sure to wipe your mouth in case spouse enters the kitchen later.

Mix cheesecake batter according to box using 2 T. water and 1 egg. Set aside. This is getting good. It’s like the part in a movie when someone is loading bullets into a gun. You don’t know what’s about to happen, but you know there’s gonna be mayhem. And you can’t wait to see it.

Put peanut butter into a small bowl and thin it slightly with water or milk — adding just a dribble at a time. Mix thoroughly until it is about as thick as the cheesecake batter. Contain yourself. Seriously.

On top of the chocolate batter, drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake mix alternately with spoonfuls of peanut butter mix. Space your spoonfuls so you have enough to cover the whole pan.

Scrumptious spoonfuls, waiting to be swirled.

Use a knife to swirl batters together. Lucky, lucky knife.

Swirl the 3 batters together slightly by drawing a knife through them. Mmm, pretty as a prom picture. Bake this delectable swirled mess as the box directs.

While baking, chop Reese’s Cups into bite-sized chunks. When fully baked brownies emerge from the oven, use fingers to firmly press Reese’s chunks into the still-soft top crust layer. Let cool.

When you’re done, the surface will be rough and chunky, like a rocky canyon of peanut-butter boulders swimming in a burbling cheesecake river. This brownie dessert should be deemed a National Park for all to enjoy.