Don't Settle For Bland Boxed Brownies (Add Some Swirl)

Brownies! Thick slabs of rich chocolate goodness with their chewy edges and crackled top. A snack that feels like a dessert, and a dessert that feels lighter than cake (but still so decadent). The perfect complement to ice cream. People have their own opinions on the best type of brownie, but we can all agree that regardless of whether they're like fudge or cakelike, they are darn delicious.

While making brownies from scratch is fun, most of us don't have the time to bust out all the mixing bowls any time we want a sweet treat. That's not a deal breaker though, as the grocery store shelves are full of boxed brownie mixes. There are many different varieties across brands from Betty Crocker and Ducan Hines and beyond. Boxed mixes take a ton of time and work out of the process of baking brownies, but they can feel a little lackluster sometimes when compared to their fancier cousins. There is a better way. 

Boxed brownies are easy to dress up

The great news is that it's very easy to bridge the gap between average from-the-box brownies and absolutely delicious brownies. Regardless of which box you come home with from the store, you can dress those brownies up in so many ways. They are a blank canvas for you to have fun with.

Even professionals know that brownies are meant to be augmented. Chef and James Beard Award winner Kelly Fields spoke with HuffPost about what makes brownies special, saying "once you have a brownie recipe you love and feel like you've mastered, you can then create so many variations by experimenting with new flavors in new ways." She's right and it's easy to get started on upping your brownie game. The first thing to try is a little thing called the swirl: Swirling in other ingredients into the batter before baking so that you have layers of flavor when you take them out of the oven.

Swirl flavor into your brownies

Adding a swirl of flavor to your brownie batter is a surefire way to add some decadence– — and some fun. Try mixing in a ribbon of raspberry jam throughout, or get really crazy and grab the marshmallow fluff. Caramel sauce (either homemade or packaged) adds rivers of sweetness and some extra chew. A sprinkle of salt before baking and you'll have yourself some salted caramel brownies. Peanut butter mixed with cream cheese, sugar, and egg adds an extra step, but also creates a bonus layer of flavor and texture when added. Don't forget Nutella, either, if you're looking for something that reminds you of Ferraro Rocher.

To create the perfect swirl, fill your brownie pan with batter and then dollop your filling across the top. Run a knife or a toothpick through the filling, dragging it through the batter until it's nicely marbled. Of course, swirling in ingredients isn't the only way you can make your next batch of brownies. Play around with combinations of mix-ins and swirls. Brownies with walnuts and a caramel swirl? Yes, please. Peanuts mixed in with ribbons of jelly? Yum. There are so many flavors to play with, and you should enjoy every single one.