Let’s be honest for a moment. Sometimes even the most experienced bakers feel lazy. And sometimes there’s nothing better than whipping up a quick boxed brownie mix.
But, of course, we’re still bakers, and we like putting our individual spin on things. So today’s post is a quick one on how to make boxed brownies better on those days when you want something sweet to snack on but don’t have the time or energy to make something from scratch.
How to make boxed brownies better
1. Add espresso powder
The first rule in making your boxed brownies better? Add espresso powder. 2 teaspoons will do. It will dramatically enrich a deeper cocoa flavor into your brownies. But don’t worry, they won’t taste coffee-y. Just more intensely chocolatey! You’ll want to use the instant espresso or coffee powder though, not legit ground espresso beans.
For a more intense mocha flavor, you could play around with substituting some of the water in the batter with coffee. I haven’t tried this out myself, but it sounds like a good idea!
2. Make it crunch time
Anything with a little bite will do. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cocoa nibs…adding a little textural crunch elevates your brownies from blah to bomb. Mix your crunchy bits into the batter or sprinkle on top to make your boxed brownies look even prettier. Just make sure you’re using raw nuts and not the pre-salted ones!
3. Use an extract
I used vanilla extract in these brownies to keep them simple and chocolatey, but it’s always fun to experiment with different extract flavors in your boxed brownies. Peppermint is a total winner, as is bourbon! If you’ve never baked with other extracts before, make sure you look up how much of each extract is typically used in a recipe. Some extracts are extremely potent, and not all of them blend in well like vanilla does.
4. Add more chocolate!
I mean… how could you not? A drizzle of dark or white chocolate on top, adding chocolate chips to the batter, or, dare I say, both?! You could even cut up your favorite candy bar and mix that in. Kit-Kats and Crunch bars would add some nice texture, just saying…
5. Finish with a little salt
IMO, there is nothing better than a little salt on a baked good and brownies are no exception. Go for a finishing salt like Maldon, Falk Salt, or Jacobson. Just a light sprinkling will do!
6. When in doubt, underbake
The easiest way to ruin a batch of brownies is to overbake them. They can go from fudgy and delicious to cakey and dry in a matter of minutes. So be sure to set that timer for 5-10 minutes less than it says on the box. You know they’re done when a butter knife inserted in the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean (a little bit of brownie on there is OK!). The brownies will continue to cook as they cool, and once they are ready to eat they’ll be the fudgiest, loveliest brownies EVER.
Now that you know how to make boxed brownies better, the world is your oyster. If there’s a specific mix-in or topping you like in your brownies, let me know! I’m always looking for an excuse to make more brownies.
Lazy Girl Boxed Brownies: aka how to make boxed brownies better when you're feeling lazy but still want a delicious dessert.
- 1 boxed brownie mix, with water, oil, and egg amounts according to package instructions
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup whole roasted almonds
- 1/4 cup cocoa nibs
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- finishing salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix brownie batter according to package instructions. In addition to the water, oil, and egg amounts specified on the package, add in instant coffee/espresso powder and vanilla extract.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, then top with roasted almonds and cocoa nibs.
- Bake according to package instructions, making sure to use the knife test to check for done-ness. Allow to cool slightly while you melt your chocolate chips.
- To melt the chocolate chips, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 15 second increments on 50% power. Stir chips in between each addition.
- Once fully melted, drizzle over brownies and finish with sea salt.