The Ingredient You Need To Easily Upgrade Your Next Batch Of Brownies

If you love a warm batch of brownies fresh out of the oven (and who doesn't?), you might not think that your favorite brownie recipe needs an upgrade. Whether you prefer crisp brownie edges or soft middle brownies, it's hard to mess up a chocolatey dessert, right? 

But if you want to branch out from your usual brownies, maybe with a few chocolate chips sprinkled in, you'll love this wintery twist on the classic brownie recipe. Sarah Fennel of @bromabakery on Instagram shared a more elevated brownie recipe with her 500,000+ followers, and they (literally) ate it up. 

So, what's the secret brownie ingredient that found one commenter clean out of brownies in just two hours when they tried the recipe? You may never have thought of trying this wintertime staple in your brownies, but once you do, you'll bake a brownie batch you'll never forget (and never stop eating).

The winter ingredient that takes Sarah Fennel's brownies to the next level

Powdered hot cocoa mix is a great addition to a variety of desserts, but you likely haven't seen it used in brownie recipes. Sarah Fennel's winning brownie hack is as easy as substituting hot cocoa mix for the cocoa powder in your brownie recipe. 

Fennel recommends using Land O Lakes Cocoa Classics Supreme Hot Cocoa Mix, but you can use whatever mix you have on hand. Although these brownies may sound fancy, they only have 10 ingredients — many of which you likely have in your pantry. Accompanying the hot cocoa mix are flour, sugar, eggs, bittersweet chocolate, and milk, among other ingredients. They also take just 45 minutes to make, so they're a great treat to bake for a party (or if you're not a fan of sharing, to devour yourself).

But don't scarf down those brownies just yet. After you've mixed the ingredients and baked the brownies, it's time to start making the rich chocolate buttercream that — along with the hot chocolate mix — will take your brownies to the next level. (Thankfully, the buttercream calls for many of the same ingredients the brownies do, so there's no need to run back to the pantry.) Once you beat the buttercream until it's perfectly light and fluffy, you can ice your hot chocolate brownies and decorate them with mini marshmallows and peppermint bits, as Betty Crocker suggests.

Sarah Fennel's tips for the perfect hot chocolate brownies

Fans already know that Sarah Fennel loves surprise brownie ingredients, but she also has plenty of other secrets for upgrading your brownies. Fennel recommends using the highest-quality bittersweet chocolate possible; that way, mixing until you find the right consistency will be easier. She also says that vanilla extract is a surprisingly important ingredient to round out the brownies' flavor, so it's crucial not to skimp on it (per Broma Bakery). 

According to Pillsbury, after you bake the brownies, you can insert a knife near the edge of the brownies to check if they're done. For the perfect brownie, Fennel recommends inserting a toothpick into the middle of the brownies as well (per Broma Bakery). The brownies should be done when the knife near the edge of the pan comes out clean but the knife/toothpick in the middle of the pan comes out a little bit gooey.

And if by (slim) chance you have any leftover brownies, Fennel suggests placing them in an airtight plastic bag and defrosting them when you're ready to eat them. No matter the occasion, Fennel's hot chocolate brownies are an easy recipe that'll leave you craving more.