BOXED BROWNIE MIXES

Published Monday, December 01, 2008. From Cook's Country.

Do any come close to homemade?

PRODUCT NAME DESCRIPTION REQUIRED INGREDIENTS PRICE
Recommended
  Ghirardelli Chocolate Syrup Brownie Mix

“Balanced chocolate (flavor) and sweetness” was tasters’ assessment of these “moist, chewy” brownies, which were also praised for their “perfect texture.” One taster gushed, “Just like Mom used to make.”

1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup water for 8- by 8-inch pan of brownies (can also bake in 9- by 9-inch pan) $3.69 for 18.75 ounces
Recommended
  Barefoot Contessa Outrageous Brownie Mix

Most tasters lauded the “very rich,” “real,” and “natural” chocolate flavor of this upscale brand from television personality and cookbook author Ina Garten. The “dense and chewy,” “moist and fudgy” texture was also a hit. A few naysayers complained about “burnt” or “acrid” notes.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, 2 eggs, and ¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional; we did not use them) for 8- by 8-inch pan of brownies $8.99 for 20.8 ounces
Recommended with Reservations
  Pillsbury Brownie Classics Traditional Fudge Premium Brownie Mix

“Sweeter than most and not as chocolaty” and “pretty sweet but good” sum up tasters’ opinions of this brand’s middle-of-the-road flavor. Comments on texture were not as kind: “spongy,” “extremely oily,” and “weird chewy clumps.”

1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup water for 13- by 9-inch pan of brownies $2.59 for 19.5 ounces
Recommended with Reservations
  Betty Crocker Hershey’s Ultimate Fudge Supreme Brownie Mix

With the longest ingredient list in our lineup, it wasn’t surprising that tasters found these “very chewy” brownies to have a “fake” chocolate flavor and an “off aftertaste.” “More sweet than chocolaty.”

1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, and 2 tablespoons water for 8- by 8-inch pan of brownies (can also bake in 9- by 9-inch or 13- by 9-inch pan) $2.99 for 21 ounces
Not Recommended
  Duncan Hines Family-Style Chewy Fudge Brownies

Cries of "too sweet," "all sugar and no chocolate," and "lacks flavor" dominated the comment sheets. "Looks awesome, but [tastes like] crud" and "tastes like microwave brownies" were other complaints.

1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup water for 8- by 8-inch pan of brownies (can also bake in 9- by 9-inch or 13- by 9-inch pan) $1.69 for 21 ounces
Not Recommended
  King Arthur Flour All-American Fudge Brownie Mix

Our tasters clamored over strange flavors: “offensive molasses,” “rank artificial chocolate,” “strange cinnamon aftertaste,” “prune-y,” and “tastes sort of dirty” were among the telling remarks.

1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, and 3 tablespoons water for 8- by 8-inch pan of brownies $3.83 for 18 ounces
Not Recommended
  Cherrybrook Kitchen Fudge Brownie Mix with Chocolate Chips

The “stale and sour,” “murky” flavors didn’t come from the margarine—these eggless brownies were still last across the board when made with butter. The non-dairy chocolate chips in the mix didn’t seem to boost chocolate flavor. Tasters detected hints of “carob,” “fruit juice,” and “banana”—not chocolate.

1/3 cup melted margarine, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, and 3/4 cup water for 9- by 9-inch pan of brownies $5.29 for 16 ounces