The Brownie Experiment – Which Takes Longer to Make, Boxed or Homemade?

Well, bless my heart. The work I have to do around here for you people is sometimes just too much, you know? I mean, after I labored over the mac and cheese experiment, spending thirty whole seconds of extra time in my kitchen to make the good, homemade, whole grain, Creamy Mac and Cheese, several of you got on your knees and begged asked me to experiment next with brownies to see which took longer – brownies from a box, or homemade brownies. Really. Asking me to bake two pans of rich, gooey, chocolatey brownies? I seriously had to muscle up on this request, you know? Sometimes you all can be soooo demanding.

It’s okay though – {she says, with the back of her weary hand placed pitifully on her forehead} – I love you all enough that I was able to find the strength to serve you in this way. If someone must make two pans of brownies to help prove a point, I will rise to the challenge.

What? I suppose next you’ll ask me to make chocolate cake, or pudding, or fudge or something? Who do you think I am anyway?

Okay. I’m all done pretending to whine now. Seriously, anytime you want to ask me to make brownies, I am alllll over it. I’m happy to “take one for the team” anytime chocolate is involved.

So here’s a little something that hasn’t been in my kitchen for several years now…

Why yes, it did feel a little funny pouring that into a bowl. And then, because I haven’t made brownies from a box for such a long time – I actually had to take the time to read the directions. I felt a little silly and was glad no one was in there watching me struggle to remember and figure out how to make brownies from a box. Except now I just told you about it, so I guess you get to make fun of me anyway.

From box to pan, before going into the oven, it took me right at 4.5 minutes to mix up these brownies. Quick and convenient? Yep, they sure were. (I used Olive Oil in case you were wondering.)

Next, I started to mix up my Homemade Fudge Brownies that I have been making for several years now. I already had some whole wheat flour ground and in the freezer, but I totally don’t feel like that was cheating in this experiment because I almost always have flour ground and in the freezer for brownie emergencies baking. It’s a little something I call “kitchen efficiency” and it totally works for me.

How long did it take for me to mix up the homemade brownies and get them into the pan? 5.5 minutes. Why did it take me an entire minute longer to mix up homemade brownies than it took to mix up the boxed brownies? Because I had to wait for my butter to melt on the stovetop. Yes, the butter was taking its sweet time to liquify. But never fear. While my butter was melting, I got out my other brownie ingredients, washed a few dishes, and talked to my children. All was not lost in that extra minute of brownie preparation time.

Can you tell which pan is homemade and which pan is from a box?

The blue dish holds the homemade brownies, in case you were wondering which pan to dig into first.
Not that you can, however, because they are sort of gone now.

So, did making brownies from a box save me any time? Yes. One whole minute. Score one for boxed brownies.

Did I feel better about using an extra minute of my life to melt some butter and mix up brownies with sucanat and whole wheat flour? Well, of course I did. Plus I got some dishes done while my butter melted.

By the way, do you know why it only took me one extra minute to mix up the homemade brownies? Because I have made homemade brownies so many times that I don’t even have to think about it anymore. Truly, the more you cook from scratch, the easier and faster it becomes. If you’re new to baking and cooking outside of the box, don’t lose heart! It gets easier the more you do it!

And then, it won’t be long until you’re like me and have to cock your confused head to one side while you try to read the directions on the back of a box.

Crazy but true. ;)

I’ve got more experimenting to do, so stay tuned for more fun updates. I think muffins are the next on my list.

So tell me – do you make homemade brownies or boxed brownies? If you haven’t attempted to make them homemade, I encourage you to give them a try. Yes. That’s an order. Hey, it’s chocolate. Who’s going to argue with that? :)

Healthier Cheesecake Brownies

Warning: The following post is full of calories, sugar, and rich gooey chocolate. Reading this post will not result in any weight gain, neither will you have a sugar crash when you are finished looking at the pictures. However, baking and actually eating these Cheesecake Brownies in real life is a different story – especially if you struggle (like I do) with over-indulging in such things as cheesecake or brownies or a fantastically incredible combination of the two. These are made with healthier ingredients such as whole grain flour and unrefined sugar, but it’s not like these are made of green leafy vegetables. Oh how I wish. Therefore, I recommend that if you make these Cheesecake Brownies, you should plan to take them immediately to a potluck or otherwise heavily populated event where there are many servant-hearted people to help you consume them. Participating in a short time of “quality control” before taking them to an event is acceptable, as long as you don’t feel that you need to test the quality of the entire pan of goodies.

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Trust me, I am offering this warning from the botom of my sugar-loving heart.  I am the girl who, when asked, “Which do you like best? Brownies…or Cheesecake?” I always answer with an definite and enthusiastic, “Yes!!!”  I love them both, but put them together and that pan of Cheesecake Brownies and I could have a fine party, just the two of us. But I’m also working hard to get in shape and to eat a healthy diet.  Cheescake Brownie binges and my running shoes just don’t go together.

In other words:  Share the love, people.

Cheesecake Brownies

Brownie LayerYum

1 cup melted butter
2 cups sucanat
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Cheesecake Layer

2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup sucanat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together melted butter, sucanat, and cocoa powder. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring well. Mix in flour and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Spread the brownie batter into a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, cream together all cheesecake layer ingredients:  softened cream cheese, eggs, sucanat and vanilla. Once it is well mixed and creamy, spoon the mixure into about twelve “plops” over the top of the brownie batter.

Use a butter knife to “cut” and swirl the cheesecake mixture through the brownie batter.

Try not to hyperventilate while you anticipate how good these will taste once they are baked. Good luck.

Bake in a 350° oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the Cheesecake Brownies to cool completely before slicing. Makes 24 servings.

I will say it again:  This recipe makes twenty-four servings. These cheesecake brownies are not to be consumed by you alone – not even in 24 different settings. Not even if you first ate a good dinner. These are to be shared. Do not forget this important information.


Oh, but when you do indulge in your Cheesecake Brownie, I give you full permission to thoroughly enjoy yourself. Savor each rich, chocolaty, cream cheesy bite of gooey goodness. Put your feet up, turn on some music, and make it an event. And if you think of it, call me. I like events that include brownies and cheesecake.

What would you answer to the question of:  “Which do you like best? Brownies…or cheesecake?” (“Yes” is an acceptable answer.)

Coconut Flour Brownies (Gluten Free!)

I decided to follow my “What Kind of Wheat Flour is Best?” post with a gluten free recipe. Talk about swinging from one side of the pendulum to the other, huh?  I’m either trying to be accommodating – or keeping you forever on your toes with what to expect when you check in here. ;)

Beth emailed this recipe to me, saying she found it on the Azukar Coconut Flour package that I’d posted a deal for recently. (The deal is still good, by the way!)  I tweaked the recipe slightly by replacing the regular sugar with sucanat. Also, you could add chocolate chips if you’re feeling the need for a major chocolate fix, or chopped nuts if you’re feeling nutty. Personally, I can always use a chocolate fix, and nutty as I am, I don’t care for chopped nuts in my brownies.

Coconut Flour BrowniesYum

1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sucanat
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir together melted butter (or oil), cocoa and sucanat. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in coconut flour, stirring until all ingredients are well combined. (Coconut flour likes to clump together a little bit – I find a whisk usually helps smooth out the mixture as I stir.)  Fold in chocolate chips and/or nuts if you choose.

Pour into an 8×8 inch baking dish. Bake in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes.

Whether or not you need to eat a gluten free diet, I really recommend that you check into using coconut flour every once in a while. It’s a very healthy flour. Read more about why I love coconut flour.

What have your coconut flour experiences been like so far? Are you a nutty brownie sort of person, or simply just…nutty?

Peanut Butter Brownie Cups (made with whole wheat and sucanat)

The delightful thing about eating healthy, whole foods is that you can still have your cake and eat it too – you just need to make treats with real, wholesome ingredients. It also helps you to stay healthy if you refrain from eating the entire batch of goodies. Shucks.

Read through this post about Healthy Sweeteners, this post about Healthy Fats and this post about Whole Grain Flour to answer questions you may have about how to make treats that still have lots of great nutrients! While we still limit the sweets and treats at our house, I don’t feel guilt when feeding my family delicious desserts that are made with these whole foods and healthy fats. (You’ll see a big list of our healthier treat recipes here.)

And now, my friends, I have a very exciting new recipe to share with you that contains wholesome, funky fresh ingredients. Warning:  You may want to sit down when you take your first bite so that you don’t faint from the pure joy of it all.

A Heavenly Homemakers reader, Katie, gave me the idea for these Peanut Butter Brownie Cups.  With tears in my eyes, my hand clutched to my chest and a sob in my throat, I’d just like to say from the bottom of my heart, “Katie…thank you.”

Yes, gooey chocolate and peanut butter makes me completely sappy. You can only imagine that this type of behavior is what my children and husband experience on a regular basis while living with me. If you think my reaction to this recipe is overwhelming, you should have heard me trying to get through the end of Little Britches when I was reading it out loud to the boys. Don’t even ask about Old Yeller.

Peanut Butter Brownie CupsYum

1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 – 2 cups sucanat (depending on your preference)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I use homemade peanut butter)
2 Tablespoons honey

Stir together melted butter, sucanat and cocoa. Add eggs and vanilla and stir well. Mix in flour until batter is thoroughly mixed. Scoop batter into 24 paper lined muffin tins (filling each one about 1/3 full).

Stir peanut butter and honey together. Spoon 1/2- 1 teaspoon of peanut butter mixture into the center of each brownie cup.

Bake in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 Peanut Butter Brownie Cups.

Have you tried baking treats with whole wheat flour and sucanat (or honey)? Do you use real butter (instead of margarine or crisco)? Does the thought of chocolate and peanut butter together make you swoon?

Leave a comment on this post for an additional entry for our drawing for 5 $10 Gift Certificates to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop!

My Favorite Chocolate Recipe

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Today I’m sharing my favorite chocolate recipe with you.   It is SO GOOD. 

I guess that’s why it’s called Death By Chocolate. What a name. I didn’t name it. I’d have named it something like A Little Piece of Chocolate Heaven. Or Just When You Think It Can’t Get any Chocolatier. Or Chocolate Covered Chocolatey Chocolate

Well…anyway. Death By Chocolate is a recipe my mom found somewhere when I was a teenager. I remember her serving it when she wanted to make something special for company. She always put walnuts in hers…and I always picked ’em out. :)  I’m not a fan of nuts in my food. But you can put walnuts in yours if you want to. I’ll just pick ’em out if I come over and share it with you. (Which I’d love to do…come over and share it with you.)

As I remember also…the original recipe called for a box of brownie mix…a box of chocolate pudding…and a container of cool whip. The way I make it now…it is all made from scratch. And Oh. My. Goodness. Do try it. You won’t be sorry.

Death By ChocolateYum

Recipe for Creamy Chocolate Pudding
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Recipe for Fudge Brownies (with or without the chocolate chips)
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
½ t. vanilla
1 t. sugar or a few drops of stevia
1 cup pecans or walnuts, optional

Bake Brownies according to recipe. Allow to cool. Make Chocolate Pudding according to recipe. Allow to cool.

In a large glass serving bowl, begin to layer your Death by Chocolate

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Cut or crumble brownies into small crumbs or pieces. 
I usually cut mine into one inch squares. 
Place one third of them into serving bowl.

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Pour one third of your pudding over the brownie pieces.
Continue this brownie – pudding layering twice more.

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Choose the cutest person you can find to whip your cream. 
With beaters, whip cream until soft peaks form. 
Add vanilla and sugar or stevia. Mix in with beaters.

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Spread the whipped cream on top of your brownie-pudding layers. 
If you’re talented and have time…put something fancy on top like put chocolate shavings. As you can see…I’m not that talented.

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Oh, but look how pretty that is!! 

This is the very bowl my mom always made Death By Chocolate in. I’m so thankful to have this bowl in my own kitchen now. 

Okay…chocolate lovers! Come up with some excuse to make this!!! Invite someone over. Have a party. Invent a new holiday. You HAVE to make Death By Chocolate!! (Ooh, someone should invent a new holiday…JUST to celebrate CHOCOLATE!)

Anyone else a chocolate lover like I am?!
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This post is linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap.