Experiment With Extracts To Upgrade Boxed Brownie Mix

What's better than the crispy crust and moist, fudgy interior of brownies? The answer is nothing — unless, of course, you're adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But whether you like this cookie bar chewy, cake-like, or more on the fudgy spectrum, few desserts will give your taste buds more pleasure. Brownies are special for another reason too. Regardless of whether you are making them from scratch or are a fan of boxed brownie mixes, they can be customized in more ways than you can count on two hands.

If you're baking brownies from a boxed mix, don't hold back from making them your own. You can add different types of chocolate to create the ultimate fudgy brownies. Or if you're a little more adventurous, you might consider adding mascarpone to your brownies, which will help make them extra fudgy. But there are so many other ingredients you can add, including candies, nuts, and even bacon. However, if you really want to turn your brownies into a pièce de résistance, you may want to start experimenting with extracts.

Extraordinary flavor enhancers

While vanilla extract with its warm, caramel notes is a baker's staple, there are other flavors you might want to consider adding to your brownies. Extracts are concentrated solutions made by placing fruits, nuts, or spices into a liquid — usually alcohol — to draw out their flavors. They can also really change your favorite boxed brownie mix and transform it into a whole new product. Add a little mint extract to your brownie batter and you have mint chocolate brownies that you can serve up with an Irish coffee. Choose a cherry extract and you get a cherry-chocolate brownie that is both tart and sweet.

Whether you love a little almond, anise, coconut, lemon, or even butter extract, these flavor enhancers add an element that helps make for a powerful dessert statement. Just remember: A little bit goes a long way when it comes to extracts, so don't be heavy-handed if you decide to experiment. A teaspoon is a good place to start with subtle flavors like vanilla or almond, but you may want to dial it down for stronger-tasting extracts. In addition to giving your boxed brownie mix a twist, one of the advantages of using an extract is that the flavor is more uniform from brownie to brownie. And then there is that little fact that they can help extend the shelf life of this sweet treat.