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Doctored up brownie mix....suggestions???

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I don't have time to make my homemade truffle brownies that I love so much, so I'd like some suggestions of ways you've doctored up a "boxed brownie mix" to make it, well....special!


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  1. my grandmother used to put in bits of chopped caramel pieces...if served warm, they stay a bit gooey - if served room temp the caramel is seriously chewey, but but for the kids to eat.

    4 Replies
    1. re: monica

      Here is the recipe I saw on the Food Network by Giada De Laurentiis and website feedback from people who tried it was most positive.

      Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
      1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
      1/3 cup vegetable oil
      2 large eggs
      2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons espresso powder
      1 (19.8-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
      3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
      1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

      Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 tablespoons espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Add the brownie mix. Stir until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.

      Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until the glaze is set. Cut into bite-size pieces. Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.

      1. re: Hope

        Trader Joe's has a truffle brownie mix or something along these lines that's good rich chocolate, and I'm pretty picky. Lots of good suggestions posted. One that I can add is that you can make great "frosting" my putting Hershey chocolate on the warm brownies when they come out of the oven. Spread the melted chocolate to "frost" them. I've never tried it before, but it would probably be tasty to do this with Andes mints, too.

        1. re: Kitty

          Putting York Peppermint Patties on top of the warm brownies and then swirling them into an icing is a delicious way to make boxed brownies special.

      2. re: monica

        My mother used to make brownies after Valentines Day and dump in the leftover red hots... It was a bit weird-looking, all those semi-melted hearts, but really tasty.

      3. - toast and chop up some nuts
        - mix one package of cream cheese(room temp) with one egg, a tp vanilla, 1 tb sugar, and then mix in 2 tb of flour
        - make your brownie mix

        Pour 1/2 of the chocolate mix into pre-greased, parchment lined pan(bottom only needed), then spoon out the cream cheese mixture on top in patches, then scrape the rest of the choco mix on top. Take a knife point and swirl the mixture into a pretty design (don't over do it or it will look muddy & less swirly). Sprinkle the nuts on top and bake, adding another 10 minutes to the baking time.

        - chopped pieces of caramel on top
        - crushed pieces of peppermints
        - dried fruit....cranberries, cherries, etc.

        1. Ghiradelli makes brownie mix which isn't bad...
          Marshmallows are a good mix-in...
          Flavored liqueurs...
          Really good icing on top...

          1. Swirl in one of the following...

            choc ganache
            melted butterscotch chips
            softened peanut butter
            raspberry jam

            1. If you want to keep it chocolatey, add a pinch of salt, melted butter instead of oil, touch of powdered espresso, underbake slightly so the chocolate aromas are still volatile.

              7 Replies
              1. re: petradish

                Great suggestions! These little things make all the difference. I like the sound of volatile chocolate.

                BTW, what is the best major brand of brownie mix these days? I recall using Duncan Hines in the past, but I'm not so sure. Does it even matter?

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  Cook's Test Kitchen show on PBS did a show about brownies last saturday and they did the blind taste test with packaged brownie mixes and Ghiradelli's was selected hands down. The comment was best chocolate taste.

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    Just today I was discussing brownies with a friend
                    and she said the Safeway brand mix was really good. I haven't tried it myself. But she's a great cook.

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      Carb lover, are you laughing at my volatile chocolate notes? :-P It's what makes chocolate lava cakes special-that moment when the cacao reaches chocolate sensory overload-the peak aromas! Like roasting nuts or coffee, there's an ideal moment to stop the heating process and let it shine. Thus, I underbake the brownies.

                      It's Duncan HInes for me. Ghiradelli is too floury and chalky for my fudge-loving tastes.

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I can't recall brownies specifically, but I like Duncan Hines chocolate cake mixes in general. They seem more chocolatey than the other major brands. I haven't noticed the Safeway one, but would will try it because Safeway products are usually just as good as the major brands.

                        I agree that Ghiardelli is a bit dry and chalky, and that Ghiardelli chocolate lacks sass (or volatility, as we're putting it in this thread) in general. It needs a lot of doctoring.

                        1. re: nooodles

                          Thanks for everyone's comments. I've never tried the Ghirardelli brownie mix before, but since you and petradish both used the word "chalky" in your descriptions, that scared me straight! Am curious about it though given that it won CI's taste test...

                          I'm a big fan of fudgy brownies and that's why I've used Duncan Hines in the past. Don't really remember what Pillsbury or Betty Crocker taste like though. May have to check out Trader Joe's mix, although their housebrand stuff is so hit or miss.

                        2. re: Carb Lover

                          trader joe's belgian choc truffle b mix....add 1/3 c good cocoa powder, a bit more egg and real vanilla.

                          real home/scratch flavor and texture.

                          nary a blah bite in the box.

                      2. I threw caution to the wind one day and mixed in the rest of my tropical trail mix in there - you know, the kind with cashews, coconut, dried mango and papaya and (most importantly) banana chips.

                        Just fabulous. And you can pretend that it's healthy, too. :-)

                        1. My friends mom who used to have a catering business alsways added real vanilla to the mixes and it made them taste so much better.

                          1. I have used Duncan Hines for years.

                            I add semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter just before plopping it into the baking pan. The amount is up to you-at least 1/3 c. for a 9 x 11 pan. Wonderful.

                            Because my kids don't like nuts, I sprinkle crushed walnuts or pecans over 1/2 the batter in the pan, and gently fold in with a spatula.

                            Once I mashed a banana that needed to be consumed, and just added it to the batter. Good, a little less fudgey than usual, and of course, healthier!

                            The suggestion for chopped dried cherries sounds good. I have a bag of Trader Joe's mixed dried berries: strawberries, cherries, and blueberries, I think. I will have to try them!
                            Have fun and be creative!!

                            1. I think many of these suggestions sound great. But a while back someone said they spice up a brownie mix with (I think) chili powder and crystallized ginger.
                              Have looked for that post but cannot locate. If poster is reading please tell us your recipe again. It sounded pretty interesting.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Babs

                                That was probably me, the chili-chocaholic. A pinch of cayenne is more than enough for most people, and a half cup of chopped candied ginger per 9X13 pan. Start with that, and add more if the taste appeals to you.

                                This works as an add-in to any brownie mix, but I've found it tastes much better if you're working with a chewy, very very dark chocolate version. When your brownie is chewy, the ginger is like little pockets of flavor without too much of a texture contrast.

                                I tried it one time with a more pale cake-like brownie and didn't like it very much at all. The cake-like brownie and chewy ginger didn't complement each other very well.

                              2. I recently read in a magazine (can't remember which one) this suggestion: bake the brownies in a larger baking dish than called for so they'll turn out slightly shallower than usual. Line the baking dish with foil or parchment so that you can turn the finished product out onto a cutting board when fully cooled. Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to create brownie stars. (You can save the trimmings and freeze them in a plastic bag to crumble over ice cream.) Sprinkle the brownie stars with powdered sugar and arrange them on a pretty cake stand.

                                1. I am famous for doctoring up brownie mix. SOme of my favorite things to do are add PeaNut butter right into the mix and chocolate chips.

                                  Another for mint brownies are follow the brownie mix for baking and once they come out of the oven cover the top with a box of the Andre Mints. Wait a minute or two and they will start to melt and then ice the warm mints all over the brownie for a frosting and let set. I have tried this with Hersheys chocolate as welll.

                                  1. I use any brand that is on sale (it does not matter). Add 1 tea almond extract, 1/4 cup melted real butter, 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa and an extra egg. Bake like the box says minus 1 minute. Let cool and use a mesh strainer to sift with confectioner sugar. If making for adults do the same thing but after they come out of the oven use a very good brand (I use one imported from switzerland) of apricot preserves and spoon over top while hot. Let cool completely (put in fridge if necessary then cut. You can add the confectioner sugar or not.....they are delicous either way and are sure to get compliments for adults and kids alike.

                                    1. I sometimes take mini peanut butter cups or mini caramel cups and press them in rows in the batter (pour batter into pan, then arrange cups in lines so you can cut between them). When you cut between the cups, each brownie ends up with a surprise in the center.

                                      1. My favorite way to fancy up brownie mix is to add in white chocolate chips and orange flower water. Orange extract will also work. I'm one of those people who doesn't measure, just sort of throw stuff in, but I'm guessing a tsp. or two of orange and about a cup of white chocolate chips?

                                        I've also used those red and white starlight peppermints I've run through a food processor during the holidays and a batch I made with dried cherries and a splash of kirsch turned out well too. In fact, I find a splash of many types of liquor adds a good flavor and gives me an excuse to take a nip out of the bottle when I'm baking.

                                        1. Add 3 tsp. of strong brewed coffee to highten the chocolate flavor then fold in 1/2 cup of dark chocolate covered raisins into the batter before spreading in the pan.
                                          Once out of the oven spread nutella over the top of the brownies and chill. Once firm, cut into squares. Amazing!

                                          1. Yeah, yeah, old thread, but the ideas are still good.

                                            Anyway, I bought a lot of peanutbutter chips on sale this spring, and they're excellent mixed into brownies. I also bought some cinnamon chips (same sale) and I bet they would be good, too.

                                            1. Place batter in baking pan and drizzle (a few globs are good also) with carmel topping (like you use for ice cream), chocolate chips, and pecans, then bake! Your friends will think you bought it at the local gourmet bakery!

                                              1. Trader Joe's Triple Fudge Brownie Mix is a winner (just made a batch this morning for a last minute event after work) and I will throw in dried cherries to add interest if I'm looking to play around with it.

                                                1. I've always liked to bake the brownie mix as usual, and as soon as it gets out of the oven, I put a very thin layer of frosting on top. any flavor is good. Sometime I add sprinkles to make it fun for the kids.