The best brownie mix?

At my new job, unlike my old job, there is no coffee cart that comes by at 2:10 every afternoon to sell gigantic and perfect chocolate-chip cookies for 75¢. So I bring brownies to make up for it. Making brownies at home has turned out to be a cool mother-daughter activity on Sunday afternoons--it's not hard for a kindergartener to help crack an egg, measure and pour oil and water, stir it all together and scrape into a baking pan. Here are some tasting notes I scribbled on torn box-fronts in search of the perfect brownie mix.

Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownies, 13x9 family size
Touted as "extra thick and fudgy!" these did not deliver.
"Not very chocolatey or chewy. Plain."

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix
Has "Chocolate chips in the mix." This was "very moist & fudgy.
Good. Maybe too moist--got clumpy."

Pillsbury Dark Chocolate 13x9 Family Size
"Dark color & moist texture, but not very chocolate-y tasting"

Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge (8x8 only)
with "Hershey's Fudge Pouch & Melt Away Chips"
"Wow, very dense & moist & chocolate-y. Not cake-y. Almost like underdone but not--just moist!" It appears that I liked these, but they were actually so rich & sweet they became a chore to eat. They were still around the following week, and we took a break from brownie-baking for a few more weeks just to recover.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme (8x8 only)
"Chocolate Syrup pouch included"
By this point I was wary of add-ins like a pouch or chips, but I think this mix is a winner! "Chewy, chocolate-y, but not too much of either. Could be the one?!"

Are you a brownie-holic? What's your favorite recipe? Do you believe in from-the-box, or insist on from-scratch? Any secrets? I have a friend who places walnut halves on top of the batter before baking for the total illusion of homemade. Yum.


ValleyWriter said...

Good run down. I use a mix if I'm in a rush, but usually add something to it to dress it up - chocolate chips or a swirl of raspberry jam. Full on homemade brownies are still the best in my book (though I haven't tried the Ghirardelli mix - might have to now!).

P.S. I miss the coffee cart, too!

Anonymous said...

Very cool, Kitty. The comparison by brand posting is tops! I'll have to try the Duncan Hines and Ghiradelli Choc. Supreme and do a family taste test. Brownies are one of the only things I thought I could make -- Remember? When you knitted with the wife that night?
I sucked at it?? Remember I had to be bailed out?

I am inspired to try again by your post. I'll enlist Jack's help. My ideal brownie is not cakey, but fudgey in consistency, with a nice frosting like candy bar on top. And I don't like nuts. Americans, my European friends love to remind me, are too nutty. One of them on visiting our shores thought that there must be some powerful nut lobby, else why would all the candy bars have nuts in them? Give me a plain Swiss milch chocolate bar any day of the week!


"Prof. Kitty" said...

VW, a swirl of raspberry jam sounds amazing! A friend also put neat rows of walnut halves on her brownies, they looked super fancy.

Wade, do not read what I just wrote about nuts. I remember that night you made brownies well, that's part of what got me into brownie-making in the first place! Highly recommend doing with Jack! Super easy and the results are huge reward.

"Prof. Kitty" said...

I must be obsessed with that walnut story, I put it both in the post AND in the comments. Heh.