This post is about shortcuts.
I put so much pressure on myself to do everything the ‘right’ way and the hard way. I want to feel the work I’ve done, the sweat, the aches. It’s just how I am. This can be a good thing, sure. I get a lot of shit done. And it all comes out pretty well, sure. I have a lot of pride behind my work. I’m ultimately very happy I am that way. However, I think sometimes I feel a bit guilty for taking shortcuts on things, or taking a break… and I don’t think that’s particularly healthy. But I’m working on it. I think I have a fairly decent balance in all of it, but I think I could beat myself up less when I feel I need some time off. I need to remember that there’s nothing wrong with taking a shorter way to get to the same place sometimes if your legs need a break from all the walking. As long as the journey is enjoyed.
This post is also about boxed brownies mixes.
There is such a stigma placed upon a boxed cake mix or brownie mix, and I think we need to have a little discussion about them. First of all, there are several different varieties out there now and you have the choice to pick the brands that don’t have all kinds of fake crap in them. So, that’s a nice bonus. But people in the culinary world tend to look down upon something that provides a shortcut in the kitchen. I’m not like that. I think it’s best to go ‘from scratch’ on as many things as you can, sure. But I do not draw a hard line in the sand on a lot of things. We choose to raise our family with homemade and fresh things most of the time, but also allow our children to experience what else is out there. Along with the knowledge of what is in those things… and what it not in them.
My kids know what’s healthy, they know what’s real and they know what their bodies need and can use as fuel. But you better believe my kids know what an Oreo is, what Doritos are, and what’s new in Fruit Loops. I’m saying all of this because I think it’s important to understand my/our philosophy on food. I cook for them more than I don’t. Restaurant food is a special occasion. Opening a package of something is a special occasion. They have made cookies and cakes and brownies with me using the flour, sugar, butter, oil and eggs from our kitchen. They know what goes into everything we eat at home.
With all of this being said, I am 100% on board with the idea of keeping boxed mixes in your pantry at all times.
At. All. Times.
I highly encourage it.
I always have a box of chocolate cake mix, yellow/butter cake mix, and brownie mix. You can do so many things with those three mixes. And I have used them for many a ‘last minute’ occasion and whistled my little way through it every damn time.
(Ok, full disclosure- I cannot whistle, but you can still use the visual.)
But here’s the catch – whenever I use a boxed mix, I always. ALWAYS. Doctor it up. So let’s stop knockin’ the mixes!
Don’t knock it. Doc it!
(My husband came up with that one. Love that man.)
Meaning, I am always adding lots of other yummy things to make the box taste better, look better, and frankly, me more mine. But my time spent baking is cut drastically. Don’t get me wrong- I love to bake. LOVE. it.
But sometimes we need a shorter walk to a yummy place.
So these brownies I am about to share with you begin with a box of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix. I added lots of other things to it, and they came out so incredibly well. And I didn’t have to measure a thing! Took me barely any time at all.
And I really needed that shorter walk.
Here’s a little tip I’ve learned in all the boxed brownie mix baking I’ve done… you really don’t have to be so precise over measurements here. They’re gonna come out awesome because of all the extra stuff you’re putting in there… it’s not like a cake where you do have to pay a little more close attention. So eyeballing the main ingredients really won’t hurt anything in the end… eyeballing, in my experience, always leans towards the ‘over’ side. And I mean, who doesn’t love a super moist and gooey brownie anyway?
So, here you go – An insanely rich and amazing and EASY brownie recipe that takes what you love about s’mores and fudgey, gooey brownies, and smushes them all together.
So go ahead. Take that shorter walk today. You deserve a break. And also some chocolate.
Don’t knock it. Doc it.
In a mixing bowl, combine the following…
- 1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
- 1/4 cup applesauce (I only use unsweetened, and you can always just go with 1/2 cup of the oil instead of half/half with the applesauce)
- 1/4 cup cooled coffee OR 1/4 cup cold water + big fat spoonful of instant coffee/espresso powder (I always bake with decaf)
- big splash milk or big fat spoonful of sour cream/plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- fat pinch kosher salt
- splash vanilla extract
Mix well with a whisk, make sure the egg is fully beaten.
- the mix from the box.
Whisk again until smooth.
- roughly 1 – 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (aka a fat pouring of them, minus the snacking amount)
- roughly 2 cups mini marshmallows (aka a lot of handfuls of them, minus the snacking amount)
- 4 large graham cracker sheets, broken into bite sized pieces (do not be precious about this)
Mix with a rubber spatula to evenly distribute.
Pour chunky batter into greased 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking dish.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Just check it after 45 and see… I don’t know your oven. You don’t want a soupy center. When you insert a wooden skewer into the center, it should come out with wet crumbs and a little bit of thick chocolate ‘syrup’ and the center should jiggle when you shake it, with the edges pulled away from the sides of the pan.
This comes out so cool! All the added, yummy bits float to the top of the batter and the chocolate chips just land wherever they want to.
Cool on a rack slightly before slicing into 9 large squares.
Serve warm for most desirable sound effects from guests.
Also vanilla ice cream is recommended. To cut the richness, obviously.
But you can eat this sucker ice cold and have zero complaints.
I had it for breakfast today.
Thanks for reading, ya’ll. I’ve been a bit out of commission lately, but I’ll be posting more soon hopefully Love y’all xo
These look wonderful, Abbey!
Oh, thanks so much LeAndra!!! xoxo
I feel this way about Cambell’s cream soups in casseroles. Yes, often I use my various homemade bechamels, but if I don’t have any, or don’t have time, I am certainly NOT going to forgo chicken tetrazzini. That would be ridiculous. And then, there’s the nostalgia factor, having spent my whole childhood eating my mom’s delicious casseroles made with Cambell’s soup. I bet a lot of foodies didn’t have that growing up. If they did, they wouldn’t be so quick to turn their noses up. (Same with queso made from Velveeta and Ro-tel tomatoes.)
But I never use baking mixes! I figure I can whip my sweets up from scratch just as quickly and more cheaply, but if you, Miss Abby, say that you save significant time, then that is something to pay attention to. I quite like the look of this recipe. My husband will squeal with joy.
Aww! Yeah… nostalgia plays such a huge role in how we eat and cook, doesn’t it? It’s why I still have an affinity for cool whip… my grandmother used it and always had it in her fridge… it just makes me smile 😉 I hope you give this a try and let me know what you think! x