In these D.I.Y., happy I made my own jam/pickles/stone-ground flour days, revealing you use and like the occasional boxed baking mix is akin to admitting you spent the weekend watching a “Real Housewives” marathon while your children ate dry cereal straight from the box.
Tinged with shame and a dollop of sloth, among serious home cooks it’s often assumed that pre-fab means sub-par. And this is where they would be very wrong, especially where brownies are concerned. Even if you regularly make brownies from a boxed mix, here’s a little secret that will transform them from dependable to decadent: just add butter. This is particularly true with the deluxe dark or double chocolate brownie mixes. Substituting melted Kerrygold butter for the recommended oil changes the texture to a rich, dense, fudge-like confection, especially if you use only two eggs and underbake them a smidge.
But don’t stop there – make a sophisticated sweet by using extra-strong espresso instead of water. (Brew it yourself, or use a double dose of instant powdered espresso).
If you want to deepen the coffee flavor, grind some more beans to a fine powder and stir in a tablespoon or more before baking. Another delicious touch is to mix some of the powdered coffee with coarse granulated sugar (turbinado sugar is ideal) and sprinkle it on the surface of the mix before it goes into the oven. Or try another adult delight – brown the butter slightly and use bourbon in place of the water. The caramel notes of the bourbon marry beautifully with the cocoa in the brownies and the nuttiness of the butter. If bourbon isn’t your thing, try Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur) with a topping of toasted hazelnuts and chunks of dark chocolate. Serving these grown-up sweets warm with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream will send them straight to dessert heaven.
For more kid-friendly versions, use the melted butter, skip the adult liquids, and top the mix with a generous swirl of creamy peanut butter and a big handful of chocolate chips. Try adding your favorite jam as well and make them PB&J-licious. Or go campfire with a generous topping of mini marshmallows and chocolate chips – a treat that will have your kids begging for s’more.