Lose your box brownie recipe?
If you find yourself without the box to show you the instructions for your brownie mix, fear not. I can help. Most brownie box mixes call for about 1/3 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 or 2 eggs. For dense, fudgy brownies, use 1 egg; for taller, more cake-like brownies, use 2 eggs. If the batter is way too stiff to pour, add more water. Bake in a greased pan in a moderate temperature oven (350F or 175C). Baking times vary from about 20-40 minutes, but it mostly depends on your pan size. A bigger pan needs less time to bake because the shallow batter has more surface area exposed to the heat. Always trust the toothpick test (below).
The toothpick test
Insert a wooden toothpick near the center of your baking brownies. If it comes out wet, they need more time. If it comes out perfectly clean and dry, hustle those brownies out of the oven because they’re already a little over-done. The perfect done-ness is evidenced by a toothpick that pulls up just a few moist crumbs of brownie.
Cut brownies with a plastic knife
Cut ‘em while they’re warm. And use a plastic knife. Yep, that’s what I said. Plastic. I read all about it here: http://amysfinerthings.com/how-to-cut-brownies
Richer-tasting brownies (butter)
It’s a simple and inexpensive substitute, but you’re gonna love it. Most box mixes call for 1-2 eggs, some water, and about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil. When I want a richer brownie, I use melted butter or margarine INSTEAD OF the oil. I just cut 5 tablespoons (about 1/3 cup) of the golden stuff into a microwave-safe dish, and I microwave it for about 20-25 seconds. DON’T put your buttery product into the microwave for a full minute at 100% power — or you’ll be scrubbing oily splatter off the top of your oven’s roof. Not fun.
Richer-tasting brownies (coffee)
On your brownie box mix, look at the recipe. There is usually a small amount of water needed, maybe 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. We’re going to JAZZ UP that water by adding instant coffee to it. Into a small bowl, pour your water, but make sure it’s the hottest your tap will allow. To the hot water, stir in 1 teaspoon of instant coffee. Stir this coffee water into your brownie mix instead of just plain water. Then follow the rest of the box instructions (usually 1-2 eggs and some oil). You’ll be surprised, but the coffee flavor blends right in. Most people won’t be able to put their finger on why your brownies are so tasty, but you’ll know!
Richer-tasting brownies (vanilla)
Most people have vanilla in their cabinets, so this is an easy one. Follow the directions on the box. Then add 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla to your batter. It’s subtle, but it gives a nice richness to your brownie batter, and it smells heavenly during baking!
Easier cutting and serving
Before baking, cut an extra-long piece of baking parchment, waxed paper, or aluminum foil (for those who speak Queen’s English, “al-u-min-i-um” foil). The piece should be longer than your pan by about 7-8 inches (18-20 cm) in both width and length. Line the pan with the foil/paper (some suggest putting cooking spray under the liner and on top of it too), pour batter on top, and bake. After cooling, you can gently pull up on the sides of the paper/foil and tug out the entire pan of brownies, for easier cutting. Reynolds Wrap has a quick trio of photos that demonstrate exactly how to do it.