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

Banana Caramel Blondie

January 07, 2013 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Caramel, Fruit, Nutty


If you love banana nut bread, but want it in a dessert form, look no further than this easy-to-make banana caramel blondie recipe. It’s nutty, sweet, moist, and ready to put an exclamation point at the end of any picnic, potluck, or home-cooked meal.



  • 1 box banana cake mix
  • 2-3 eggs, as called for on the box
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 8-0unce package cream cheese
  • 1 to 1.5 cups walnuts, chopped
  • Optional: Chopped chocolate or (gasp) truffles


  • 6 ounces, or about 3/4 cup, caramel dip (I used Marzetti brand)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 ounces of dark chocolate, shaved



Decide if you want a higher, fluffier blondie or a shorter, denser blondie. If you want higher and fluffier, use 3 eggs; if not, use 2 eggs. Put eggs in a bowl and scramble them. Melt butter in microwave for about 40-45 seconds and mix it in with the eggs. Pour in the banana cake mix.


Batter will be thick. Add cream cheese and mix thoroughly.


Add a cup of chopped walnuts. If you LOVE walnuts, add a cup and a half! Do not spoon this delicious batter directly into your gullet. Resist!


Pour this thick, nutty, heavenly smelling batter into a well-greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes until a center-placed toothpick comes out nearly clean. Watch it carefully because you don’t want to overbake this one. It’s sooo good when it’s tender and perfectly baked. Remove from the oven. If you like, you can chop up some chocolate (I got extravagant and used truffles) and shove those pieces down into the still-warm crust for a chocolatey surprise.



I put chocolate into HALF of my banana blondies so my guests would have a choice.

Let cool. Spread caramel into a thin layer over the crust of your blondies.


Here, you can see my “half chocolate/half plain” strategy.


Garnish your caramel layer with a sprinkling of about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts.


And, hey, because I’m a brownie ambassador, I’ve always got some chocolate bars stashed away for emergencies. So, I busted out some dark chocolate (Hershey’s Special Dark, in this case) and I cut some shavings onto the top. Life’s just better with extra chocolate on top, even if it’s just an ounce or two.


Oh my. There she is. Your newest little blondie bombshell! She’s the banana caramel blondie, complete with walnuts and a little chocolate flair, just for good measure.


Molasses-Bottom Brownie

November 18, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Cream Cheese, Creative, Decadent, Holiday, Nutty, Off the Beaten Path


If you like buried treasure, this molasses-on-the-bottom brownie recipe will be your favorite. It’s gooey, smoky, nutty, not-too-sweet, and exceptionally drool-inspiring on a plate. This is a perfect comfort-food-for-falltime recipe. I can’t help imagining how heavenly this brownie would be with a scoop of old-fashioned black-walnut ice cream by its side. Just sayin’.


As a kid, one of my favorite recipes was the ever-challenging from-scratch recipe for Black-Bottom Pie. This molasses brownie recipe I’ve created here reminds me of the black-bottom pie, but without all the time, expense, ingredients, and effort required to get to the face-stuffing stage. :-)  I hope you enjoy it!


This recipe starts with 1 box Pillsbury Fudge Truffle Bundt Cake Mix, which contains 2 plastic baglets

“Cake mix” baglet from Pillsbury box mix
2 eggs
6 T melted butter
1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
1 cup water

“Filling mix” baglet from Pillsbury box mix
2 T melted butter
1/2 cup molasses (regular, not black-strap or super-dark molasses)
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts



Take the larger Pillsbury baglet filled with powdered cake mix, and pour it into a large bowl. Add melted butter, eggs, cream cheese, and water. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed with a mixer.


Set large bowl aside. Take the smaller Pillsbury baglet filled with powdered filling mix, and pour it into a medium bowl. Add melted butter and molasses.


Stir by hand until well blended. Then stir in the chopped, toasted walnuts. Set medium bowl aside.


From the large bowl, pour your light, puffy batter into two large greased loaf pans — or one large loaf pan and 2 mini-loaf pans. See below for a size comparison. These mini-loaves make great gifts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, or any other holiday when people like to, uh, eat.


Regardless of what size loaf pans you use, plan this next part ahead so that you will evenly divide the filling according to pan size. Below is a photo of the large loaf pan with half of the filling in it. As you can see, the thick filling is piled up in the center half of the pan, with sort of a mound-like shape, leaving an empty space on either side of the mound. Don’t let the filling touch the pan; stop your filling just a half-inch away. During baking, the heavy filling will sink through the puffy batter and down to the bottom of the pan, allowing a light, tender batter crust on top and a gooey, nutty filling on the bottom one-third of your dessert.


Your guests are going to flip when you serve this. (Just a suggestion: microwave each piece for 15-20 seconds before serving because it is outrageously delicious that way.) So here it is, folks: Molasses-Bottom Brownie, a super moist, gooey, smoky, nutty, and tender baked treat with a recipe that people will beg for.


Apple Walnut Blondie

November 09, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Blonde Brownie, Cream Cheese, Fruit, Nutty


Utterly autumnal and ready for hungry leaf-rakers…it’s the Apple Walnut Blondie, a recipe for those who want to keep their kitchen full of happy fall-time snackers.20121109-133905.jpg


  • 1 17-ounce package sugar cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker brand)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese (I used Philadelphia brand)


  • 1 21-ounce can apple pie filling (I used Comstock brand)
  • 1.5 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (I used Diamond walnuts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of ground cloves, optional
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, optional
  • Vanilla glaze, optional (a little butter, confectioner’s sugar, milk, and vanilla)



To the cookie mix, mix in the eggs, melted butter, and cream cheese (it makes mixing easier if you slice the cream cheese as you add it to the bowl).


The batter will be thick. Spread it into a greased 9″ by 13″ pan.20121109-134001.jpg

Open the can of apple pie filling. Using a sharp knife, cut down and around in the can so any large pieces become more bite-sized.


Spread apple pie filling evenly across the batter.


Put your chopped walnuts into a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon. If you love ground cloves, add a sprinkle (about 1/8 teaspoon), but that’s optional.


Add melted butter.


Add lemon juice. You can add less than 2 tablespoons if you want your blondie to be sweeter. The lemon juice is an inspiration from my great-grandma Katherine’s recipe for Hungarian Christmas-time cookies.


Pour this tart, nutty mix on top of the batter and apples. Using a knife, gently swirl these delicious layers. Don’t mix too much. I find that swirling side-to-side is good, but you’ll also want to do some up-and-down swirls to get some of the fruit and nuts down into the batter.


To counter the slight pucker of the lemon juice, you may want to add some brown sugar by hand, just sprinkling it over the top evenly. It gives sort of an “apple crumble” look to your crust. If you like your sweets to be not too sweet, I suppose you could skip this step.


Bake for about 35-45 minutes at 350 F, using a toothpick to check for doneness. The toothpick should be nearly dry and almost clean.

After I baked my blondie, I whipped up a little optional ultra-vanilla glaze to drizzle on top. (Mix 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine with 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a dribble of milk. Voila!) Drizzle to your heart’s content.

The Apple Walnut Blondie is pretty enough to use as a centerpiece at your big holiday party, so try this easy recipe now… before you have to give them all away to your drooling guests!


Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Crunch Brownie

April 20, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Decadent, Fun For Kids, Nutty, Peanut Butter, Super-Simple


Adorable. Take it to work; chat with it until you need a snack. Then become one with your Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Crunch Brownie.

For the recipe, follow the directions for Girl Scout Tagalong Brownie Pie, except use a mini-muffin pan to bake your brownies.


Mini-muffin pans can do double-duty as mini-brownie pans!