We’ve made dozens of brownie variations from a mix. I started digging through our old recipes to find my favorites. Here are my top six.
- The cheesecake brownies above. Make a simple cream cheese filling and swirl it through the mix.
- Nutella brownies. These are incredible. Add Nutella to the brownies to make them smooth and rich, unlike any other brownies. Then the coarsely chopped snacking nuts area a killer.
- Brownie pizza. There’s two ways to go here: bake a pizza in a pizza pan then top it with sweets like candy, nuts and caramel topping or go with fruit and some chocolate sauce. I went with fruit.
- Caramel macaroon brownies. This is an incredible concoction of brownie, coconut macaroons, and a caramel topping.
- Banana split brownies. Make a banana split on top of a brownie.
- Malted toffee brownies. Adding malt powder is a nice touch. Adding toffee bits makes it even better.
How to Make Cheesecake Brownies with a Brownie Mix
You can add a cream cheese filling to any brownie mix. There are two ways to do this: either swirling the cream cheese filling through the brownie batter or putting a cream cheese layer over the brownie batter to make a layered dessert. We’ll describe both ways.
Swirled Cream Cheese Brownies
1 brownie mix
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Dust with flour or line with parchment paper.
- Mix the brownie batter according to mix instructions. Set aside.
- For the cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat in. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Set aside.
- Pour half of the chocolate batter into the prepared pan. Spoon half of the cream cheese filling onto the batter in pools. Pour the rest of the chocolate batter over the cream cheese pools. Spread smooth. Spoon the remaining cream cheese filling in pools over the top of the brownie batter.
- Hold a table knife or spatula vertically and cut through the batters just until the two batters are swirled together. Do not over mix.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the brownies test done by sticking a toothpick or knife into the center of the pan. The brownies will be done when moist crumbs cling to the toothpick or knife. Let the brownies cool completely before removing them from the pan.
Cream Cheese Brownies.
Make twice as much cream cheese filling by doubling that portion of the recipe. Instead of swirling the cream cheese through the brownie batter, spoon all of the cream cheese filling on top. The result will be a double-decker brownie: chocolate on the bottom and cream cheese on top
This is a pretty simple project. I like to bake with parchment paper. My favorite brownie pan is a silicone springform pan where I can peel off the ring and cut the brownies into nice wedges right on the glass base. If you can get clean cuts, these make impressive desserts.
If you are busy, you can use a premade cream cheese filling for your brownies.
Nutella Swirled Brownies with Salted Snack Nuts
These are really good—different, sophisticated brownies. With ribbons of Nutella swirled in the batter and salted snacking nuts on top, these brownies are marvelous.
Place spoonfuls of Nutella on top of the batter in the pan. Hold a spatula vertically and slice through the pockets of Nutella to create swirls.
Sprinkle the nuts over the swirled batter.
Note: For a 9×9-inch pan, use 1/2 cup Nutella and 1/2 cup nuts.
Make sure you use salted snacking nuts. Unsalted baking nuts are not the same.
Malted Toffee Brownies
These are interesting, really good brownies. Everyone that tried them, loved them.
The malt powder tempers the chocolate in the brownies, almost making them milk chocolate. The pecans gave them a nutty crunch and the toffee pieces gave them a very nice flavor.
We thought they needed a little touch of chocolate and so we drizzled our fudge frosting over the top.
- One brownie mix for a 9×13-inch pan
- 1/3 cup malt powder
- 3/4 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 cup toffee baking morsels
Mix the malt powder and pecan pieces into the batter. Sprinkle the toffee pieces over the batter. Drizzle the baked brownies with a fudge frosting.
Note: For a 9×9-inch pan, use 3 1/3 tablespoons malt powder and 1/2 cup nuts.
How to Make a Brownie Pizza
If you are going to have a party, make it a brownie pizza party. It’s going to be fun—brownies and pizza just sound like fun and you can tailor them any way you’d like and to any tastes.
I’m partial to brownie pizzas with fruit but we have made them without fruit. For me, it’s simple and casual. Debbie, my daughter, builds neat works of art.
They work for a family. We’ve made them and served them to hundreds of people. They call that scalable—it works for two or two hundred.
- Pick what you want to top your pizzas with. Consider tastes. If you are using fruit, you need to build them just before serving. You can’t leave cut fruit at room temperatures for long and fruit tends to bleed if you refrigerate your fruit pizzas.
- Pick your brownie or cookie mixes. Our Uncle Bob’s Extra Moist Brownie Mixmakes thick brownies and works well in a 14-inch pizza pan. That’s a 21 ounce mix that calls for eggs. If you use a smaller batch mix, scale down the pan size.
- The brownies are the basis for the pizzas. Your pizzas will be no better than your brownies.
- Consider baking times. Because the batter is not as deep, they will bake faster than normal. In a 14-inch dark pizza pan, we’re baking ours in about 15 minutes.
- Consider serving size. To serve in the store, we cut our 14-inch pizzas into eighteen slices. Those are pretty narrow slices and about the equivalent of 2×3-inches. If you pile a bunch of goodies on top of 2×3-inch brownie, that’s a generous serving.
- Consider a smaller pan. We’ve used those same mixes and baked each in two nine- or ten-inch pie pans. The brownies are a little thicker than if baked in a single 14-inch pan.
- Consider how you are going to eat them. If the brownies are firm and you don’t pile too much on top, you can pick them up and eat them with your hands. If not, serve them on a plate with a fork.
For fruit pizzas, sliced strawberries, bananas, and kiwi work well. Berries work well. Chocolate in any form works.
We love Designer Dessert Sauces. They are perfect for drizzles, just the right consistency, and come in a variety of great intense flavors. We consider those almost as important as the brownie mix.
Additional Topping ideas:
- Chopped nuts.
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate whipped cream
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
- 1/2 cup toffee chips
- M & M candies
- Maraschino cherries
- Gummy Bears
- Cake decorations
- Miniature marshmallows
- Chopped peanuts
- Chocolate syrup
“Incredible concoction!” These are stuffed with a macaroon batter and topped with caramel frostings and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Yeah, we have a mix for this. See the mix.
You can buy the coconut macaroon mix here if you don’t want the combo pack. We stuff the brownies with coconut by squeezing bands of coconut across the batter with a pastry bag. You can also spoon the coconut batter onto the brownie batter.
That’s caramel frosting on the brownies.
Banana Split Brownies
Make it a banana split with sliced bananas, ice cream, whipped cream, nuts, and a syrup.
French Vanilla Whipped Cream
You can make this with or without the cream cheese. The cream cheese will help stabilize the whipped cream so that it does not melt as quickly.
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon French Vanilla flavor
- Place the sugar and cream cheese in the bowl of your stand-type mixer. Beat until the sugar is creamed through the cream cheese into a soft, consistent mixture.
- Add the cream, color, and flavor. Beat until soft peaks form.
Notes: Whipped cream will melt as it sits, especially if not refrigerated. A tablespoon of meringue powder per cup of whipping cream will help it hold up. Whipped cream can be whipped again to revive it.