The Basics: Brownies from a Box

How do you screw up brownies from of a box? Trust us, you can. This weekend, we had dry, flavorless caramel brownies that obviously came from a box. They looked delicious until we took our first bite. We immediately regretted our choice, wishing we had grabbed the chocolate candy instead. But, we didn't want to be rude, so we forced ourselves to choke down the whole thing.

Before that fateful brownie encounter, we thought brownies out of a box were easy. It's just brownie mix, eggs, water and oil. Put it in a greased pan and bake. Obviously, it's not as easy as we thought. So, what's the secret to perfect brownies from a box?

It all hinges on the mix. Some are diehard Duncan Hines people, and some prefer Betty Crocker. But, we like Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix for the most homemade-tasting brownies. Your guests will never know they came from a box.

The Ghirardelli brownie mix has chocolate chips already incorporated in. We sneak an extra handful of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips in for some extra sinfulness. If you want to go over the top, replace part of the water with Kahlúa.

Remember, don't over-mix the batter. Just mix until everything is incorporated. Pour in a greased pan and bake.

Our other trick to fudgy brownies is under-baking them slightly (about two minutes less than it says on the box). The brownies will continue to cook slightly in the hot pan after you take it out of the oven. If you use the toothpick method, the toothpick will come out with a little batter and not perfectly clean. Once they're cool, top them with your favorite ice cream for pure decadence.

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Jane Catherine Collins