Recipe Review

I Tried This Ingenious TikTok Brownie Mix Hack and I’ll Never Make Brownies Any Other Way

published Mar 1, 2023
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Coffee brownie stacked on wax paper with cup of coffee beside.
Credit: Kelli Foster

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One thing to know about me: I will never, ever turn down a brownie. And that includes brownies from a box. They’re quick, low-effort, and positively delicious. And while brownies are great on their own, I’m always game to give my favorite baked good an upgrade or try a hack that will take a batch up a notch (hello, peanut butter brownies). 

I’ve seen some totally clever baking and cooking hacks on TikTok (like the muffin tin rice trick and the double toasted French toast hack), but I just saw one involving brownie mix that may be my favorite hack yet. Most box mixes rely on water, oil, and eggs to make the batter. This video suggests replacing the water with coffee.

As I watched this hack from TikTok user @katedavidsun, I had a lightbulb moment. Of course! Lots of chocolate recipes, like cake, homemade brownies, and even our chocolate cobbler, call for coffee or instant espresso, which enhance and deepen the flavor and richness of the chocolate. In fact, even the queen herself, Ina Garten, partners these two ingredients together. Strongly brewed black coffee is the secret that makes Ina Garten’s Beatty’s chocolate cake such a showstopper. 

How to Make Boxed Brownies with Coffee 

The premise here couldn’t be easier: Simply replace the water called for on the back of the box instructions with an equal amount of brewed coffee. Follow the rest of the recipe as written and bake as instructed. Easy-peasy.

My Honest Review of Boxed Brownies with Coffee

I will never make boxed brownies any other way. Using strong, hot coffee instead of water makes total sense, and I still can’t believe I never thought to do this sooner. It’s so smart. The result isn’t drastic but the chocolate factor in my brownies was definitely upped. The brownies tasted rich, fudgy, and super chocolatey. And no, you don’t taste the coffee at all.

Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Boxed Brownies with Coffee, a Few Tips 

There are a few details that the TikTok video leaves out, but a little know-how from experienced bakers will help you whip up the best batch of boxed brownies yet.

  1. Use good, strongly brewed coffee. For starters, use a coffee that you actually enjoy drinking. Then be sure to make this brew a little stronger than normal. The bitterness is what really enhances the flavor of the chocolate.
  2. Hot coffee is key. There’s a good chance your boxed brownie mix contains cocoa powder, in which case using hot liquid (in this case, coffee) rather than cool or room-temp liquid, will allow the powder to bloom. In other words: Hot coffee will unleash more ultra-chocolatey potential.

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