Remember boxed brownies? They’ve come a long way since your classic Betty Crocker mix; we’re talking wheat free, soy free, nut free options that are straight up delicious. You wouldn’t think a brownie without all of these ingredients could be tasty, and you, like me, would be wrong. I’ve done the ‘everything-free’ thing on and off for a few years now (perils of L.A. living), so I’ve tried my fair share of the healthier boxed brownies, and King Arthur’s Gluten Free Brownies take the cake. They’re soft, yet chewy, insanely chocolatey, with a nice crust on top that makes for the perfect crunch pattern.

Even though I prefer to go the more artisan, homemade route with my brownies most of the time, I’ve grown accustomed to keeping one box in my pantry, because life happens, and sometimes you just need a quick chocolate fix. The best part about these particular brownies is how simple the base is, which makes them perfect candidates to be ‘doctored up,’ and what better time to experiment with a rich, chocolatey treat than now with Valentine’s Day on the (very immediate) horizon? My current favorite additions include:

Brown Butter Ghee: It’s got all the positive health benefits of regular ghee, in addition to being nearly dairy free, but gives the brownies an unbelievably amazing nuttiness like you took the time to brown normal butter. The ghee is oiler than regular butter, so I use slightly less than the recommended 1/2 cup.

Brewed Coffee: Coffee is known for its ability to amp up any chocolate flavor, which is why so many bakeries use it in their chocolate batters. It’s not required, and these will still be great if you use water instead, but if you can swing it, they’ll be next level.

Mini Marshmallows: I use the healthiest version I can find from Whole Foods since you can’t tell the difference between those and regular marshmallows when they’re all melty and gooey after they’re cooked.

Dark Chocolate Chips: These give a great melty texture that contrasts the marshmallow and brownie batter so well once you bake them. Again, totally optional, and also switchable for any chocolate you prefer. I’m sure white or milk would be killer.

Sea Salt: Right after removing these from the oven, while they’re still hot, I hit them with a sprinkle of sea salt. I’ve yet to find a dish that can’t be made better with it.

Credits

Photography
Greyson Tarantino