Duncan Hines offers you several different types of brownies, each with a unique trait that makes them distinct from one another. But no matter which flavor you choose or how well you cook them, boxed brownies inevitably seem to fall short of homemade ones. So, how do you improve the taste of a box of Duncan Hines Brownies?
To make Duncan Hines brownie mix better, substitute water with milk and vegetable oil with melted butter. Add a tablespoon of espresso powder or coffee granules to bring out the chocolate flavor to the fullest. Additionally, use roasted almonds, rice cereal, coconuts, etc. to give an extra dimension.
Given that boxed confections appeal to quick and convenient, you might think improving them would be too much work. But these simple baking hacks will cost you very little of your time yet reward you with a vastly superior experience. All this and more are going to be in this article.
How to Improve Duncan Hines Brownies?
As we mentioned, there are several different types of brownies you can try out from Duncan Hines. Each has at least one ingredient that helps to separate them. But the tricks we are going to discuss today are pretty universal. Meaning you can apply them to any of their brownie-related desserts and still see noticeable improvement.
So, here are some quick and easy baking strategies that will improve the taste of your Duncan Hines brownies and make them taste a bit closer to home:
Start by Replacing the Water With Milk
Any boxed brownie recipe will instruct you to use water depending on the amount of batter. Water provides a platform for all the ingredients to mix properly. But since water is pretty devoid of flavor, it does not add much to the mixture in terms of taste or texture.
Milk, on the other hand, has 3.5% milkfat. And this fat is crucial in making your brownies taste rich and creamy. The more fat in your brownies, the fudgier and creamier they will be, which goes perfectly with the rich chocolate flavor. So, by adding milk instead of water, you instantly make your brownies more appetizing.
Alternatively, you can use heavy cream, if you are looking for an extra fudgy brownie. According to the USDA, heavy cream has to have a fat content of 36% minimum. This is ten times the amount present in milk. This will obviously have a significant impact on the texture of your brownies.
So, you can use either milk or cream depending on how gooey and rich you want to make your brownies. And if you are looking for an in-between, you can replace one half of the water with milk and the rest with cream.
Use One More Egg
The next ingredient we are going to look at is the eggs. Most brownie recipes, including those belonging to Duncan Hines, describe the use of two eggs.
The role of eggs in brownies is twofold. To be more precise, the eggs, or the egg yolk acts as an emulsifier to hold all the other ingredients together. They also make the brownies moist yet gooey. Without the eggs gelling the other ingredients, you would end up with a runny brownie that will fail to set properly.
So, simply by adding an additional egg or just the egg yolk, you can make your brownies richer and creamier. As long as you do not overcook the brownies, the extra egg will help to make for a gooey center. If you want a lighter and cakier brownie, you can add only the egg whites.
Replace Vegetable Oil with Melted Butter
The next we are going to upgrade is vegetable oil. In this case, we will use melted butter instead of canola or sunflower oil. The oil provides moisture to the brownies, making them soft and edible even after baking them at a high temperature. But much like water, vegetable oil does not add much in terms of flavor.
On the other hand, the effect of Butter is similar to the effect of adding milk or cream. It drastically increases the fat content in the brownies, making them moister, heavier, and richer. In fact, butter is mostly fat; 80% is the minimum requirement to be labeled as such. This is much more than even the fat content in heavy cream.
Of course, you need to melt the butter before putting it in the batter. You can achieve this easily with the help of a microwave oven. You can also use a saucepan to melt the butter slowly. Be careful not to burn it as it will completely ruin the taste of the brownies. It is best to let the butter cool down to room temperature first and then include them in the batter.
Up to this point, we have solely discussed ways of making Duncan Hines brownies thick and fudgy. But suffice it to say, many people will prefer their brownies to be on the lighter side. So, the brownie has to resemble more cake than a fudge.
To get the consistency of cakes, start by adding a bit more flour and brown sugar into the mix. Both the flour and sugar absorb water, which means less free water in the batter. This makes the confection less gooey and cakier. Flour also counteracts the fat. The higher the flour content than fat, the cakier your baked goods will be.
So, by adding an extra bit of flour and sugar, you can soak up much of the moisture. This will make for brownies fluffy and light like cakes. You can also add an extra egg for a more cake-like consistency. Additionally, incorporating baking powder or baking soda infuses air into the mixture, making them more cake-like.
Complement the Chocolate with Coffee
Chocolate and coffee are not just a great combination of beverages. They also complement each other perfectly in baked goods, be it cakes, cookies, or brownies. Simply adding a tablespoon of finely grounded coffee granules to the mix will greatly enhance the bittersweet taste of the chocolate in your brownies. So, the chocolate will shine through completely.
Alternatively, you can utilize espresso powder to the same effect. One tablespoon of espresso powder will make the chocolate flavor more prominent.
Another way of incorporating this method would be to pour hot, brewed coffee into the batter and mix it well. And rest assured your brownies will not taste like bitter coffee.
Add a Dash of Vanilla Extract
While the coffee highlights the bittersweet flavor of chocolate, vanilla extract will complement the chocolate differently. Pure vanilla extract has a more rounded sweetness. This will go perfectly with the slight bitterness from the chocolate.
Try Making S’Mores Brownies
The previous hacks have been about replacing the standard brownie ingredients with upgraded items that can make for better brownies. So, now let’s talk about some of the ways you can play with Duncan Hines boxed brownies to make any sort of dessert you want.
We usually associate s’mores with camping and marshmallows. But brownies are an interesting and delicious addition to that classic treat. And you do not even require a campfire to enjoy it.
All you need are some graham crackers, marshmallows, and a boxed Duncan Hines brownie mix (plus the ingredients to make the brownies). Make the brownie mix the way you like it. Then cover the graham crackers with the brownie mix. Cook them in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
Then take the tray out of the oven and place marshmallows on top of each cracker. Put the tray back in the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Another way is to bake the brownies normally, but take them out of the oven 15 minutes earlier. Then, put the marshmallows on the top and return the mixture to the oven until the brownies are done. Decorate the dessert with chocolate drops and crackers.
If you are tired of both fudgy and cakey brownies and want to try a new texture then brownie brittles are the way to go. This crunchy yet rich sweet treat will delight your taste buds and give your palate something fresh to chew on.
For this dish, you need basically the same sets of ingredients you would otherwise for a normal brownie. But instead of pouring it thickly on the baking tray, you are going to spread it very thin. This will make for a crunchy and chewy brownie batch once it is out of the oven. Of course, you require a large baking tray for this to work. Alternatively, repeat the same steps several times until you use the whole mixture.
Add Nuts to the Brownies
Speaking of crunchy brownies, you can achieve this by adding toasted nuts to the batter. Almonds and walnuts are the best choices, but simple peanuts will also do the trick.
Roast the nuts separately in a pot. Then add them to the batter right before you put them in the oven. Not only will they add an extra dimension to the texture, but you will also receive the nutritional benefits of nuts.
Ice Cream Brownie Sandwiches
Turn your Duncan Hines brownie mix into an ice cream sandwich. First, make a batch of brownies and bake them in the oven. Then take large scoops of ice cream and cover the brownie while it is still in the tray. Now, add crushed Oreos on top and carve out a slice.
How to Make Two Boxes of Duncan Hines Brownies?
Making two Duncan Hines Brownie Mix boxes is just as easy as making one. Note that if you have Betty Crocker’s Brownie Mix and you want to make a double batch, there are slightly different instructions.
- 2 Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie Mix
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cups water (or equal part milk)
- ¾ cups vegetable oi (or equal part melted butter)
- A pinch of salt
- Vanilla Extract
- Roasted Almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Take a large bowl and mix all of the ingredients except the nuts. After whisking, sprinkle the nuts on top.
- Take a large enough baking pan and grease it properly with butter. Pour the mixture and put it in the oven.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. Use a toothpick to see if the center is cooked or not.
- Take it out. Cool the brownie. Then cut into slices and serve.
How to Make Brownies From Cake Mix Duncan Hines?
Brownies and cakes are two different experiences. But thanks to many overlapping ingredients, they also share striking similarities. So much so that you can even have a batch of brownies with a cake mix!
The difference between cakes and brownies is pretty simple to understand. Cakes have a more leavening agent (flour, baking powder, extra egg), which helps them to rise and be fluffy and soft. In comparison, brownies have a higher fat to flour ratio, making them thicker, richer, and creamier. They also have more sugar for a bit more crunchiness or chewiness.
So, to convert a cake mix into brownies, your primary objective is to increase the amount of fat in the batter. By giving it more fat, you are making them creamier, heavier, and fudgier.
You can easily achieve this by incorporating chocolate chips, melted butter, and heavy cream. All of these ingredients have a high-fat content that will make the cake fudgier. You can also utilize just the egg yolk and leave out the egg white for a richer brownie.
To conclude, with just a few simple tricks, you can elevate a box of Duncan Hines brownies to the next level. You might even trick your unsuspecting friends and family members that they are homemade rather than boxed.