Nutella-swirled brownies with mini peanut butter cups from CollegiateCook.com. (Photo: Candace Braun Davison)

How to Take Box-Mix Brownies to the Next Level

Growing up, friends would freak out over my mom’s chocolate-chip brownies. They’d practically beg me to ask her to make them, and years later, when we started experimenting in the kitchen, I started getting calls asking to spill our family’s secret.

So here goes:

We used a Martha White brownie mix, doctored with a few heaping handfuls of semisweet chocolate chips.

Yes, that’s it.

A few friends refused to believe it. Some bought the mix, made it at home, and swore we were hiding some big secret from them.

Fudgy brownies studded with chopped Milky Way Marshmallow bars. Because they're extra delicious that way. (Photo: Nathan Davison)
Fudgy brownies studded with chopped Milky Way Marshmallow bars. Because they’re extra delicious that way. (Photo: Nathan Davison)

We weren’t. It really was a box mix. It all came down to three things, as my mom showed me:

  • Under-mixing. Never take an electric mixer or whisk to the batter. Just fold in the oil and eggs with a rubber until the lumps of brownie mix are broken up.
  • Under cook. Bake to the minimum time suggested, and pull them out right away. If the batter jiggles in the center when you go to pull it out, it could use a few more minutes, but otherwise, turn off the oven and let that baby cool!
  • Add a mix-in.

The right mix-ins can completely change the brownie’s flavor. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Chopped Milky Way Midnight (or Milky Way Marshmallow) bars
  • Nutella
  • Mini M&Ms
  • Peanut butter (just dollop a bit on top and swirl with a knife)
  • Cream cheese (see above)
  • Marshmallow Fluff
  • Cookie dough
  • Chocolate chunks or chips

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