6 ways to upgrade a box of brownie mix, from a former pastry cook

6 ways to upgrade a box of brownie mix, from a former pastry cook
  • As a pastry cook, I learned some tips that can take desserts from ordinary to extraordinary.

  • To upgrade boxed brownies, I'd switch my baking vessel or add some extracts to the batter.

  • You can also throw in salty snacks, extra chocolate, peanut butter, or coffee.

When the whole world was making life changes at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, I left my job in sales and social media to become a pastry cook in Charleston, South Carolina.

Although I think boxed brownie mixes are pretty close to perfect — especially when late-night chocolate cravings hit — here are a few simple ways I'd amp them up:

Switch up your baking vessel for unique results

Most boxed brownies will call for a metal or glass baking pan, but there's some room for edits here.

If you have a great cast-iron skillet, it'll create crispy edges and a gooey center that everyone can fight over.

To make perfectly portioned, single-serving brownies, use a muffin pan. These are great for on-the-go treats — even if you're just going to the couch.

No matter what you use, just be sure to grease it with nonstick spray.

Raid your snack drawer for salty toppings 

Air fryer potato chips
Air fryer potato chips

Potato chips add saltiness and crunch to brownies.Ali Majdfar/Getty Images

Even though I was a pastry cook, I prefer savory over sweet. Any time I can add in a savory element to my desserts, I'm all over it.

Salty snacks like kettle chips, pretzels, almonds, or even Ritz crackers are a great way to balance out the sweetness in brownies while adding an extra bit of texture.

Plus, you can satisfy your sweet and savory cravings in one fell swoop.

Chop your own chocolate for extra, gooey flavor

If you're baking brownies, you likely have a hankering for chocolate. Lean into this craving and chop up a bar of your favorite chocolate to toss into the batter.

Even if your mix already has chocolate chips, add in the chopped chocolate anyways. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers that help them maintain their shape, but chopped chocolate will create beautiful melted pockets in the brownies.

Try adding nut or seed butter to make an even more decadent dessert

brownies topped with peanut butter and chocolate chips on a cooling rack
brownies topped with peanut butter and chocolate chips on a cooling rack

Peanut butter goes well with chocolate.Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

For an extra kick of richness and a bit of flair, dollop teaspoons of nut butter on top of your unbaked brownies and swirl them into the batter with a chopstick or butter knife.

I prefer using unsweetened, salted peanut butter, but you can test out almond or pistachio butter. If you have a nut allergy or sensitivity, try swirling in some sunflower seed or granola butter.

The marbled effect of swirling the nut butter into the batter bakes up beautifully and takes just a few extra seconds of effort.

Different extracts can give boxed brownies a whole new flavor profile

Premade brownie mixes likely already contain vanilla, but you can amp up the flavor with an extra splash of your own vanilla extract. It's a small bit of effort that can make a world of difference.

You can also switch up the flavor profile with peppermint extract for a festive spin or almond extract for a taste reminiscent of birthday cake.

Coffee can elevate the chocolate flavor in brownies

scoop full of espresso powder over a jar of espresso powder
scoop full of espresso powder over a jar of espresso powder

You can add espresso powder right to the batter.Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Images

Chocolate and coffee are a dynamic duo.

If you want a subtle boost to the chocolate flavor of your brownies, add a teaspoon or two of espresso powder to the batter. Or, if you're going for more of a mocha moment, replace the water in the box's directions with brewed coffee.

Hot tip: Use decaf if the brownies are a late-night craving.

Read the original article on Business Insider