The Kitchn: How to turn a box of cake mix into gooey, chewy brownies
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The Kitchn: How to turn a box of cake mix into gooey, chewy brownies

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The Kitchn: How to turn a box of cake mix into gooey, chewy brownies

One simple formula can help you turn any flavor of cake mix into dense, chewy brownies.

If you've only ever tried chewy cocoa brownies or their vanilla and browned buttered kin, the blondie, you're in for a sweet surprise. Here, we've transformed a box of strawberry cake mix into gooey fruit-flavored "brownies," topped with swirls of tangy cream cheese frosting and a shower of sprinkles. The pretty pink treat is a sweet way to bring some much-needed spring sunshine into our homes. Here's how to do it.

We opted to make our brownies with strawberry cake mix, but you can use this simple formula to turn any flavor of cake mix into dense and chewy brownies. Add 1 large egg, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1/4 cup water to a box of cake mix, then bake in an 8×8-inch baking pan until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you've got a box of yellow cake mix on hand, top the brownies with an easy chocolate frosting for a new way to serve a birthday cake. If the intense color and delicate cocoa flavor of red velvet is what you crave, swap the strawberry mix for a red velvet one but keep the tangy cream cheese icing the same. Got a box of lemon cake mix in the back of your pantry? Top the brownies with a sweet vanilla icing spiked with lemon zest and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The possibilities are endless.

Strawberry Cake Mix Brownies

Makes 16

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box strawberry cake mix, such as Pillsbury
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Sprinkles (optional)

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, preferably metal, with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over two sides to form a sling.

2. Place 1 box strawberry cake mix, 1 large egg, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup water in a large bowl and stir with a spatula until combined and no dry spots remain. The batter will be very thick. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

3. Bake until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 25 minutes. Place the brownies on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, let 4 ounces cream cheese and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter sit at room temperature to soften.

4. Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until light and smooth. (Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.) Add 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of kosher salt and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

5. To serve, use the parchment sling to lift the brownies out of the pan onto a cutting board. Dollop the frosting onto the brownies and spread into an even layer. Top with sprinkles, if desired, before slicing and serving.

Recipe notes: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.

(Patty Catalano is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.)

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