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Most of the baking I do is for funsies, but right now I am working on recipes to use for an international inspired dessert buffet. I still have a few weeks to figure everything out, but I want to do a trial run of as many recipes as I can before we hit crunch time. While taste is obviously first and foremost, this time around I need to figure out how to make things easy to eat, simple to make, and ideally something that stores well so I am not trying to make everything the day of. The first item I decided to work on was brownie bites inspired by the spice and richness of Mexican Hot Chocolate. I’d found a few recipes online, and while I could certainly cobble together a recipe to suit my needs from scratch, I really wanted something that would tick the “time” and “ease” boxes if at all possible. Enter box brownie mix. I picked one of my favorite brownie mixes (both rich and fudgy like the hot chocolate) and added the spice elements I wanted to highlight, poured it in my mini muffin tin, and checked it every five minutes until the brownies were set. We had a winner! There will need to be a little tweaking to the spice level, but all in all, I consider this a solid option and can check one more thing off my list.
- Ghirardelli Supreme Brownie Mix
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/3 cup veggie oil
- 1/4 tsp of orange zest
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1/4 tsp cheyenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease mini muffin tin and set aside.
- Dissolve espresso granules into the 1/4 cup of water and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and stir until completely incorporated.
- Fill muffin wells half way with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes before gently removing from tin. Enjoy!
* If you choose substitute in another box mix, be sure to choose one without chocolate chips or pieces added. It’ll throw off the balance of spice, and with the bites being so small, you run the risk of the chips burning against the sides of the tin before the brownie is set.
A few months ago, I tackled the Maniac Fire Bread from Sweet & Vicious. It was pretty great, and one of my taste-testers was so in love that she HAD to have the recipe. Unfortunately, after reading the directions, she decided that the whole process was more than she cared to tackle with her limited baking skills. So I had a thought: what if I came up with something that combined the same flavors, but was much less complicated to complete? Say, something utilizing that most amazing of baking cheats, the box mix? Challenge accepted!
- 1 box of Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk Brownies
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup veggie oil
- 2 eggs
- 1-1 1/2 tsp minced serrano chile
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray brownie pan with non-stick spray.
- Combine mix, cinnamon, milk, oil and eggs in a bowl and mix thoroughly
- Mince the serrano and then fold into batter and pour into prepared tin.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
- Obviously, this isn’t quite the same thing, you know, being brownies instead of a quick bread, but the flavor is there and you still have the dense texture that is dotted with chocolate chunks. Plus, it’s easier to cut and consume.
- I know a lot of bakers gasp at the idea of using mixes instead of baking from scratch, but let’s be honest – life is busy, and you don’t always have time to make everything from scratch. Besides if most people were given the choice between box mix brownies or no brownies, I’m pretty confident in asserting that they’ll happily take/settle for the box mix bakes. Sometimes it’s just better to work smart instead of hard.
Honestly, these brownies are the result of me being clumsy. I was making brownies for Andy to take to the office and I had just seen the episode of Barefoot Contessa where she talked about simple ingredients that can be added to recipes to enhance the overall flavor of a dish. None of her test subjects could figure out what was that made the flavor different, all they knew was that it tasted better. One of the recommendations was adding a little bit of coffee to chocolate baked goods. Inspired, I decided to go all Food Network and sprinkle a bit of instant coffee into my brownie mix, but being clumsy, ended up dumping in about 1/4 cup. I did my best to scoop out the extra granules, but everything that had actually touched the batter stuck. I finally just mixed it in and baked the brownies. I warned Andy about my culinary mishap, but he took them to work anyway, and boy was I shocked when he called to tell that everyone had flipped over the amazing coffee brownies. So I guess clumsy isn’t always bad.
What you need:
1 Box of Brownie Mix( with box specified ingredients)
1 Heaping Tbsp of Instant Coffee
- Preheat oven to the temperature listed on the box.
- Combine mix with instant coffee and other required ingredients
- Bake for the amount of time suggested on box (usually 20-25 minutes)
Box Mixes I’ve Tried:
- Gluten Free – Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix (cake-like brownies) or Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix (fudge-like brownies), Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix (cake-like brownies)
- Regular – Betty Crocker Triple Chunk Brownie Mix (cake-like brownies), Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix (fudge-like brownies)
- Vegan – Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix (very dense cake-like brownies), Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix (fudge-like brownies) *To veganize these mixes substitute veggie spread or oil for the butter and replace egg with egg replacer, apple sauce, banana, silken tofu, etc.
- For even distribution of coffee flavor, fully dissolve instant coffee in the liquid ingredients before mixing in.
- For brownies that have concentrated “coffee pockets” gently fold in coffee granules and bake immediately.
- If you want a strong coffee flavor add additional granules, I’ve made these brownies with up to 3 tbsp of instant coffee.
- I like to add a handful or two of chocolate chips to the brownie mix. This is especially good if you have opted for the stronger coffee flavor.