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7 Ways to Turn Basic Brownies into Mouthwatering Treats

Two brookies stacked on top of each other; a bag of peanut butter frosting; overhead view of brownie bars
Picky Palate/Sugar Spun Run/Amanda Prahl

So you’re a bit of a chocoholic, but you’re tired of plain, old brownies. What’s next? Easy—just a few simple tricks can turn your brownies into deluxe desserts!

Fudgy, delicious brownies are a classic chocolate treat, but it’s easy for basic recipes to feel a little repetitive after a while. The great news is, you don’t have to be an expert baker to mix things up and create gourmet-style brownies at home!

All you need are a few extra ingredients and some simple tips, and you’re well on your way to creating a dessert that looks and tastes like it should be in a bakery window.

How to Get More Intense Flavor

Getting a solid chocolate flavor is the most important part of any brownie recipe, whether you’re starting from a boxed mix or making your own from scratch.To really emphasize and deepen the chocolate flavor, try adding a teaspoon of espresso powder to the batter.

If you’re worried that this will turn your brownies into coffee-flavored brownie bars, don’t worry! You’re not adding nearly enough espresso powder for its flavor to overwhelm the chocolate. Instead, it functions as a chocolate booster, intensifying the flavor and giving it a little more complexity and depth.

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This instant espresso powder is the secret to big coffee taste in your desserts.

How to Make Richer, Gooier Brownies

The slightly dense, fudgy texture is really what sets brownies apart from just chocolate cake. If your favorite regular recipe still isn’t quite gooey enough for your taste, there’s a really simple hack! Just add one more egg yolk (just the yolk—you’ll need to separate out the egg white) to the batter.

Be careful not to add the whole egg in, though. Adding an extra whole egg will complicate the texture. The egg yolk alone adds a little extra fat and emulsifying ability to the batter, but the whole egg adds egg whites, too, which act as a leavening agent. An extra whole egg is likely to change the texture of the brownies to be more cakelike.

How to Make Deluxe Peanut Butter Brownies

A chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting; a piping bag of peanut butter frosting
Sugar Spun Run

Is there anything that goes together as well as peanut butter and chocolate? Upgrade your plain brownie recipe with the addition of some peanut butter! After mixing up the batter, add about 1/2 cup of peanut butter baking chips to the batter and stir them in—making sure they’re relatively evenly distributed—before pouring the batter into the baking pan.

Want to really take things to the next level? Let the brownies cool completely, then whip up a batch of creamy peanut butter frosting to spread on top.

It doesn’t have to be a fancy, complicated recipe, just a basic buttercream, like the peanut butter frosting (seen above) from Sugar Spun Run. Essentially, it’s equal parts butter and peanut butter, plus powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a bit of milk.

Tip: You can adjust the consistency of your frosting easily! If you want thicker frosting, use a little more sugar; for thinner frosting, more milk.

But if you want to make your simple frosting recipe look very fancy, you can always load it in a pastry piping bag to give it that bakery-fresh look!

How to Make Mint Brownies

Who says mint is just for the holiday season? You can upgrade your brownies year-round with a hint of mint, which pairs really well with fudgy chocolate brownies. It’s a super simple way to add another layer of flavor to your favorite brownie recipe.

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How you go about it depends on what texture and type of mint you prefer. For a milder, creamier option, either chop up about 1/2 cup of mint chocolate candies or stir in that same amount of mint chocolate chips. If you prefer the stronger taste of peppermint, crush 1/2 cup of peppermint candies or sticks into medium-sized bits to stir in (or even sprinkle on top).

How to Make a Brookie

A pan of brookies with two bars stacked in the foreground
Picky Palate

In its simplest form, a brookie is just the delicious union of two beloved desserts: a brownie baked with a layer of flattened chocolate chip cookie dough on top. If you have recipes for both that you love, you can pretty much just layer the two, then bake—just keep a close eye on the baking time, because they can vary quite a bit based on how much moisture is in each recipe, how thick the layers are, and so on.

The basic brookie isn’t your only option, though. You can easily find deluxe brookie recipes that add ingredients like nuts, marshmallows, candy pieces, cookie bits, and more! One decadent treat is the Oreo S’mores Brookies (above) from Picky Palate.

Gotham Steel's Brooklyn Brownie Pan

This clever pan creates 18 perfectly uniform brownies with crisp edges and gooey yummy centers.

Start with a brownie base, then add Oreos, graham crackers, and mini marshmallows, plus chunks of your favorite cookie dough! The result is a gooey, super-chocolatey treat that brings together the best of several desserts.

Want to keep the gooey goodness but have nice firm edges, both for the texture and the ease of eating? Try baking your brookie in a brownie pan with built-in dividers.

How to Make Nut Brownies

Another easy hack for when you want to tweak a basic brownie without too much hassle. Simply chop up your favorite nuts—about 1/2 cup should work, although you can adjust it based on your personal tastes—and stir them into the batter as the final step before pouring into the baking pan.

Which nuts work best in brownies? You’ll usually have the best luck with your “classic” baking nuts, such as pecans and walnuts.

Almonds are a little harder, but they can add some delicious crunch and flavor, too.

How to Make 7-Layer Brownies

Close-up of brownies with coconut topping; brownie squares seen from above
Amanda Prahl / LifeSavvy

There’s a pretty good chance you remember 7-layer or “magic” bars from a potluck or gathering at some point in the past. Now, imagine that same gooey decadence, but melded with a perfect fudgy brownie for a deluxe brownie bar that’s super easy to make!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your favorite brownie recipe for a 13×9 pan (can use boxed mix or a from-scratch recipe)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut, loosely packed
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Tip: If you don’t use all the condensed milk, pour the remainder into a glass or a small glass bowl and put it in the fridge to use as rich coffee creamer!

The recipe itself couldn’t be easier:

  1. Mix up your chosen brownie recipe as directed. Pour into a 13×9 baking pan.
  2. Bake using your recipe’s usual instructions for temperature but remove from oven at the halfway point of the baking time.
  3. Working quickly, sprinkle the two kinds of baking chips evenly over the surface of the brownies, followed by the pecans, then the coconut.
  4. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top. Use about 2/3 of the can to start with, but if you prefer a gooier topping, use the whole can.
  5. Finish baking until the top becomes golden and a bit bubbly and the brownie itself is fairly solid in the middle. For best results, remove from oven while the middle is still just a little wobbly—it will continue to “cook” in the pan for a few more minutes, and the texture will be a little fudgier.

It really is surprisingly easy to upgrade classic recipes with just a few small adjustments. With a few hacks like these and a little patience, you can bake like a pro in no time!

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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