Have you experienced the situation where you need to provide a baked item for a holiday function but you don't have any time to put into it? We've all been there. It happens every holiday season. You need to bake something for some reason or another but can barely find 10 minutes or more to do so. Most of us will just pick up something from the grocery store bakery and hope that it's good. But if you have a box of brownie mix on hand, you are in luck. Today I'm going to share with you my favorite way to transform a box of brownie mix into something festive and special that you can feel great about sharing with your friends and family. And there's no need to tell anyone it came from a box! This box of brownie mix will be glammed up so much that it will deserve the title "homemade with love by yours truly!"
Here's all that you need:
- A box of brownie mix + the oil and egg the instructions call for
- Vanilla extract
- Black coffee leftover from this morning's breakfast - you will be substituting this for the water your brownie mix calls for
- A bottle of squeezable caramel sauce (like the Smucker's brand caramel sundae topping)
- Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Special equipment: a mini muffin pan + a cookie dough scoop for ease of scooping
So let's whip up this brownie mix. My very favorite tried and true box of brownie mix is Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate brownie mix. To me, the taste is unparalleled to all other brownie mixes. We are going to mix according to package direction, but instead of adding water, we are going to use black coffee. Did you know that coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate? A splash of vanilla extract will also help in the flavor enhancement department.
Next, we are going to scoop our brownie mix into a well-greased mini muffin tin (note that I said "well greased" - this is imperative to prevent sticking - I've learned from my mistakes!). This is a good strategy for portion control, but also great because you get 30 mini brownie bites as opposed to 9-12 square brownies. 30 brownie bite should be plenty to take to a party!
Now, this is where we get fancy - we are going to use our squeeze bottle of caramel sauce to drizzle a swirl of caramel onto each well of brownie batter. These will bake up in no time - 12 to 15 minutes until just set. The brownies will come out of the oven piping hot, and we will let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so. During that time, we will sprinkle the tops with sea salt flakes. TA DA! You just made Salted Caramel Brownie Bites and didn't even break a sweat.
Carefully run a pairing knife around the outside of the brownie bites and transfer them to a wire rack to cool or go ahead and plate em' up to serve warm. Dunking into a glass of milk or eggnog is optional, but highly recommended. Below you will find the recipe that really isn't a recipe in a handy printable form - enjoy!
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Brownie Bites with Caramel and Sea Salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate brownie mix
- ¼ cup black coffee
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 bottle squeezable caramel sauce or sundae topping
- 2 tablespoons sea salt flakes
- Preheat oven to 325. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the brownie mix, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla by stirring with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop the brownie mix into the wells of the mini muffin tin.
- Squeeze a drizzle of caramel on the top of each well of brownie batter.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just set.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan and while it cools, sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt on top of each brownie.
- Use a pairing knife to run around the edges of each brownie and carefully transfer the bites to a wire rack to cool or plate them to serve warm out of the oven.