The best thing about boxed brownies mixes are the convenience and ease of use. It’s really hard to screw up a boxed brownie mix. If you have a half hour, you can make the fudgy, chewy treats for a quick chocolate fix.
But those two selling points are also the pre-made mixes biggest limitations. You’ll scratch that chocolate itch but you really won’t wow anyone with the results. Even the best box mix will still be a box mix. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can do to dress up that box mix.
Here are my 8 favorite easy ways to improve a boxed brownie mix:
Olive oil instead of veg oil, moist
Boxed mixes almost always call for a liquid fat, typically vegetable oil, rather than a solid fat such as butter or shortening. Oil makes baked goods lighter and moister and helps with preserving that fudgy texture.
While you definitely do not want to skip the oil in a brownie mix, it’s the primary fat, you don’t need to stick with the highly processed vegetable oil. You can equally substitute olive oil or coconut oil. Both oils are healthier than vegetable or corn oil though they will impart a subtle flavor change. But I think olive oil or coconut oil pair really well with chocolate.
If you are a strict butter adherenet in your baked goods, you can still use butter in a box mix but can I suggest brown butter? The brown butter will add caramel notes and intensify the chocolate flavor. Not a bad thing. https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-brown-butter-238326
Add a swirl
It’s very easy to add a dramatic and tasty topping swirl to the prepared brownie mix to take the bland box mix to the next level. Tahini or peanut butter work really well with chocolate.
Simply mix 3 tablespoons tahini or PB, thin with equal parts maple syrup and add a pinch of salt. Then dollop the loose topping on top of the prepared brownie mix in the pan and run a knife tip around to swirl. Then bake the brownies like normal.
Nothing fancy about this one but I’ve never found a box mix that had enough salt. Add a pinch to the batter or sprinkle on top after pouring the batter into the pan. The additional salt will definitely make the flavors pop more.
Another easy way to boost the overall flavor profile, is to replace the water in the recipe with the same amount of brewed coffee. This will help balance out the sweetness of the mix with some bitterness.
Add bittersweet chocolate
If you don’t want to add caffeine, another way to balance the sweetness is to add additional chopped bittersweet chocolate. More chocolate is rarely a bad thing.
Add sugar and spice
Replacing the plain, granulated sugar with a simple vanilla sugar can add some interesting and unexpected flavors.
You and also add additional spices that you like or pair well with chocolate like cinnamon, cocoa powder, chile powder, curry, chipotle, or mint. Start with a teaspoon and adjust to taste.
Use a round or different pan
Finally, if you like your box mix as-is, you can always switch to presentation and consider a different type of pan than the standard 9×13. This works really well if you can’t get enough of those crunchy corners.
You might not always have time to make brownies from scratch but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for bland boxed mixed either. Try one of these 8 ways to improve a boxed brownie mix and have a dinner party worthy dessert in no time.
PS – Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix is by far the most superior boxed mix!