Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homemade brownie mix

Q&A with Myself
Q: What's one of the fastest desserts you can throw together that is almost universally loved?
A: The brownie.
Q: Where do most people get their brownies?
A: From a packaged mix.
Q: Why?
A: It's fast and the brownies are actually quite good.
Q: But you still have to add the oil and the eggs and mix the batter and bake them, right?
A: Yes, but you don't have to measure all the dry ingredients. That's a big pain...and it's messy.
Q: So why don't you make your own brownie mix and keep it on hand for when you're in the mood for brownies?
A: I don't have a comeback for that. It's a good idea.
The upside is you'll have something just as convenient as a store-bought brownie mix but without any additives. And when you finally bake the brownies, you'll actually be baking from scratch.

P.S. While you're at it, mix up multiple batches to make all that messy measuring worth the effort. Or get together with friends and treat the event like a cookie exchange. Chip in together to buy the main ingredients in bulk, then let each person come up with some interesting additions to personalize his/her brownie mix (espresso powder, cinnamon, chopped peanuts, white chocolate chips, diced dried pineapple, toasted pine nuts, etc.). Then swap containers so you go home with a bunch of different brownie possibilities.

Brownie Mix
I made the mix in a 1-quart deli container. I threw all the ingredients in and then just shook it up to mix them. It worked great. Just be sure to label the container so you know what mix-ins you put in (if any). And stick a little note inside to remind yourself of the other ingredients you'll need for the batter (oil, eggs, and vanilla), as well as the oven temperature and baking time.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder or nonfat milk powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup add-ins, such as chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

In a medium bowl (or deli container), combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, buttermilk powder, baking powder, salt, and whisk (or shake) to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips and add-ins (if using). Store airtight.

To make fudgy brownies
Brownie Mix (above)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

To make cakey brownies
Brownie Mix (above)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Dump the Brownie Mix into a bowl. Add the oil, water, vanilla, and egg(s), and stir just to blend.
3. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
Makes 16 brownies


  1. Could you perhaps prep some recipes that can be stored dry (like the brownie mix) that would only require water and heat to then turn into nutritious food? Rather than brownies which are basically fat carbs and sugar, could you work out something that had a higher protein content rather than sugar?
    Also, you are allowed/encouraged to use powdered milk but NO eggs.
    It's for emergency preparedness. You know what I mean...

  2. If you really want to see what types of foods you could have on hand for emergency preparedness, you should check out both camping and survivalist websites. They sell almost anything you could think of in a freeze-dried (therefore lightweight) form. But, on the topic of some high-protein mix, I would bet that if you took chickpea flour and maybe some soy flour, mixed them with powdered eggs (ah, summer camp), maybe baking powder, and some seasonings, you would have a thing that would bake up into a cake-ish thing and it would be pretty high in protein.

  3. Wait, Julien, why NO eggs? Not sure I understand the "allowed/encouraged to use powdered milk but NO eggs."

  4. Couldn't you mix the oil in with the mix so you would only have to add the water, vanilla and eggs?

  5. Off the top of my head I would say that adding the oil would make it less convenient to store (a big lump of solid stuff instead of nice, flexible powdery stuff) and possibly likely to turn rancid. It might also be really difficult to mix well later. That said, it's a worthy experiment. Let me know how it turns out.