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Ghiradelli Brownie Mix - as is or alter recommendations?

I love the Ghiradelli Brownie Mix and plan to whip up a batch of brownies for a holiday party this weekend. They are quite delicious as is, but I was just wondering if anyone alters the added ingredient recommendations - 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 1 egg? For example, do you ever use butter instead of vegetable oil or add an extra egg, etc? TIA.

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  1. I know someone who subs a couple tablespoons of Kahlua for some of the water... They're SO good...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mild Bill

      I always, always sub Kahlua (or some other liquer -- Chambord is good with a few white chocolate chips as well, or Bailey's) for all of the water required in brownie mix, and add some good chocolate chunks as well. And make them in a smaller pan!

    2. We've covered the top in Peppermint Patties, After Eight Mint Squares, marshmallow and chocolate chips, caramel bits, used apple sauce instead of oil, added crushed nuts to the batter, added vanilla extract, brushed the top with Kahlua right out of the oven and added instant espresso powder (2 tsp.) to the batter, topped with raspberry puree once cooled and made a peanut butter layer onto of the brownie layer before baking.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        Hope all of those additions were in the same panful!

        1. re: pine time

          lol, I tried editing it but couldn't get back in!

          No all different batches of course. My son happens to love this mix. Most of the experimentation is his.

      2. I've substituted coffee in place of the water.

        1. Usually I add chopped dried sour cherries to the batter. Spread ganache on the top.

          1. I know some people doctor it up but I guess was wondering if adding butter instead of the oil would make any difference. The Kahlua instead of water sounds great.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              I sub apple sauce for the oil, not butter.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                I use butter instead of the oil. Brandy for part of the liquid and I add some espresso powder. Sometimes I put in some cinnamon.

              2. 1 tablespoon of hot peperoncino powder.

                It doesn't make it ridiculously spicy, but just enough to give a tingle in the back of your throat. Lovely.

                Excellent with coffee.

                1. I recently made them and added some peppermint extract to the mix. Almond extract would be another great addition.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodie06

                    Peppermint brownies were in fact my plan...I think I'm going to mix in some chopped Andes and perhaps smear some on top but that could be a bit too minty.

                  2. I haven't changed up the basic instructions (maybe once I used applesauce because I was out of vegetable oil), but I have mixed in whatever leftover baking chips I have in the pantry (butterscotch, white chocolate, mint, etc). I have also swirled in melted peanut peanut butter or Nutella, but for some reason, my go to is generously sprinkling the top with sweetened coconut flakes before baking - they come out slightly toasted.

                    My husband made a grasshopper pie last year and the bottles of mint and chocolate liqueurs have sat untouched since...maybe I can use them instead of water?

                    1. If you search under the correct spelling: GhiraRdelli, you will find other posts about their mix.

                      Of the four varieties in my supermarket, I prefer the Dark Chocolate.
                      I add my own chopped walnuts. Originally I used melted butter but once I began using virgin coconut oil in my cooking, I tried melting it for the brownies, and have never gone back to butter. It adds a subtle
                      hint of coconut and makes a moister brownie, I think, than the butter did.

                      1. I also love that mix! They are so tasty, and easy to make. One time, I didn't have any oil, so I substituted a stick of butter. They sure tasted better, but there were a little on the tender side. They fell apart very easily.

                        Next time, I'm going to use half oil, and half butter. That will give them more body and better taste!

                        1. I make them with browned butter. People always wonder what is in them! If I'm really going overboard, I make the pour-over-while-hot kind of chocolate frosting using browned butter in that too. Incredible!

                          1. Cooks Illustrated did a whole TV episode on this once. They went out on the street for a blind taste of home vs box brownies. The box won. They admitted that sometimes box is better then home then they went on to figure out why.

                            Their reason, which I agree with is that box brownies are all about the texture. They are soft and chewy. But home made tasted better.

                            It's kind of like the Alton Brown Chew Chocolate Chip thing. People love chewy for cretin sweets. Brownies are one of them.

                            Their answer had to do with the ratio of saturated fat to unsaturated fat. They checked out what the box has and turns out it's reverse of what most home recipes are. Something like 73 percent is unsaturated, like oil, and the rest butter. That oil kept things soft and chewy.

                            Ghiradelli was rated the best if I am correct.

                            As far as doctoring them up, I would not mess with the eggs, liquid or fat. One thing you can do is chop up some chocolate instead of chips. They will melt into the dough as it cooks giving more hits of flavor.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: kjonyou

                              I went with coconut oil instead of the regular vegetable oil and it was quite delicious. Well, that was round #2 after the 1st batch with Andes mints was a big hit. Everyone at the party thought that they were homemade.

                              1. re: kjonyou

                                I remember that episode (actually ATK). I recall the explanation also included the idea that most people are more accustomed to box mix brownies, therefore these experiences/expectations somewhat colored their choices.

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  I think you are right. But at the end of the day, if everyone is used to X then you cant just write it off people have not got used to Y.

                                  1. re: kjonyou

                                    People begin with cheap White Zinfandel and (hopefully) progress to Cabernet.

                                    Cheap milk chocolate to imported bittersweet.

                                    Box mixes to homemade.

                                    I have wondered how/if my favorite bakery responds to customers who don't understand their style of baked goods (less sugar, real butter, extra-dark chocolate, baked goods that are beautifully browned, etc.).

                                    A lot of the ATK philosophy revolves around pleasing the largest number of people possible, and thus involves compromise.

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      I bought a 3-pkg box of Ghiradelli brownie mix at Costco today. My son loves it. He grew up liking the recipe I used most (the ones called Katherine Hepburn browines) http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... but once he got in the kitchen and started making a box mix, this mix, he never looked back. Son is the chocolate lover of our household, has eaten chocolate from six continents and he thinks GBM is the bomb.

                                2. re: kjonyou

                                  Side note: I'd like to nominate "cretin sweets" as one of the best typos ever.

                                3. Add whole or half nut on top of each piece after baking and slicing.

                                  1. Late to the discussion... but new to Chowhound and decided to see what people said about the brownie mix I use since people love them so much. I always use the dark chocolate mix, bake in a 9x9 pan and for only 35 minutes as apposed to the listed 45 minutes... they come out PERFECT. I also add a few chocolate chips of whatever variety I have on hand to the top. People go crazy for these!

                                    1. as recommended by ghg, I made a batch of these brownies with a second batter mixing goat cheese, egg, flour, conf. sugar and vanilla together and swirling that into the prepared brownie mix. they came out very moist and marbled by the goat cheese which added a wonderful flavor to the brownies.

                                      1. I glaze any brownies with this fudge topping: In a saucepan put 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup each of milk and butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute by the clock. Remove from burner and dump in 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir until they melt then pour over the hot brownies in the pan. The glaze sets up as it cools.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          A simpler icing: Unwrap your choice of flavor of Andes chocolate after-dinner mints/candies. Lay them atop the pan of baked brownies as soon as it's out of the oven. They will meld into an even layer as the heat softens them. Swirl or not, your choice. Slice once the chocolate firms up again, before it gets totally hard.

                                        2. LOVE 'em! I use the dark chocolate one and generally add something. Lots of times, it's M&M's. The ones I really love are the ones when I add a peanut butter swirl using something akin to buckeye filling for the swirl. I've also done them with a chocolate chip cookie layer.

                                          I generally use 2 mixes and bake in a 9x13 pan. Either recipe option (they have two choices - basically number of eggs, but maybe something else...can't remember) is equally good.

                                          I also use the mix in Brownie Batter ice cream - yum!

                                          1. For most brownies, I sub some or all of the liquid with Kahlua, Amaretto, or somesuch. Plus, I almost always toss in a spoonful of espresso granules.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: pine time

                                              I know people also say to always use milk instead of the water in a mix, but I have never tried that with the Ghirardelli. Might be a worthwhile experiment...

                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                I have wondered this too. I love this as well... I bake from scratch all the time , but sometimes you just need something fast and good and I honestly can not bake better from scratch!

                                                1. re: hheath9h

                                                  Yep...I keep seeing all these "best" brownie recipes (from scratch) and keep meaning to try one, but in the end...it's that box!

                                            2. I have tried many recipes and I think I have come close to better then box. Not a huge fan of Americas Test Kitchen but I do agree with them on one point. Most people like the box over home made because of the texture not the flavor.

                                              I don't think it has anything to do with a well developed pallet or refined taste.

                                              Ghiradelli specifically are chewy. The chocolate is decent, not the best in the world but certainly not low grade like say Hershey's. Chewy seems to translate as delicious for some reason. Fudgy and gooy have their fans but chew seems to win.

                                              Unfortunately, the version that ATK came up with seems to be missing some flavor and they dry out kind of fast. But they did hit on one thing, oil to butter ratio make them more chewy.

                                              1. Sorry to bump this old thread, but we just bought a 4 pack of the Brownie Mix from Costco and they turned out too "wet" and "soggy", even after letting them sit for over half an hour. What are we doing wrong? We followed the directions to the tee, and haven't heard others complain about this

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: duckdown

                                                  What size did you do? Just one pouch of mix or did you make a larger batch?

                                                  1. re: cheesymama

                                                    Just one pouch, exactly according to the directions on the box.

                                                    1. re: duckdown

                                                      I like them gooey so I underbake. Unless your oven's thermometer is off, I have no idea what went amiss.

                                                    2. re: duckdown

                                                      I take it that these were your first ones of that brand from Costco? Or you got them before and now they're different?

                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                        I wonder if your oven temp is off?

                                                        They are a standby in our house. We use half brewed coffee, half dark rum for the water the box calls for. They're a huge hit every time. We use the same baking time for either foil or glass pans - a lot of them get baked in foil as takealongs so we don't have to worry about bringing back a pan.

                                                      2. I like the Ghiradelli brownies. I often sub an orange olive oil for the vegetable oil which works really well with the flavor of the mix.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ziggylu

                                                          Wow, creative idea! I have some excellent citrus olive oil--would never have thought to use it with brownies.