How to turn a cake mix into a batch of brownies. Not.

Okay, so I got a horrible craving for brownies. Just had to have them. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, except I had NO cocoa powder or baking chocolate on hand and currently hubby has my car (his in the shop) and he wouldn’t be home until after 8 and I knew I would die of unrequited brownie lust by then.

Poking around in the pantry did turn up a chocolate cake mix and I figured, why not? Pretty much the same ingredients, just cake batter is a lot more liquid than brownie batter. So just cut back on the liquids a bit, and things will turn out all right, right?


So the box called for three eggs, 1/2 c. liquid oil, and 1 cup of water. So I tried one egg (since you add more eggs to create cakier brownies, and I was heading the opposite way), the same amount of oil, and a half cup of water.

This created an unstirrable lump of brown sludge. And I tasted it… no real chocolate flavor. :frowning: What to do. We have a ton of left over candy from Halloween (what happened to the trick or treaters this year?) but unfortunately the only chocolate item was Kit Kat bars.

But I did have some packets of cocoa mix! Okay… Ripped open four of those, dumped them in, and added a bit more water.

Now I had a rather darker lump of unstirrable brown sludge. (But at least it tastes more chocolatey!)

Maybe another egg.

Except it wouldn’t stir in – the lump of sludge just sort of skated around on top on the slimy egg in the bottom of the bowl.

Okay, time to turn to power tools. I got out the hand mixer and had a go.

And the damned lump o’sludge proceeded to CRAWL UP THE BEATERS! All the way up, to the top of the beaters and smearing onto the handle! I’m not kidding, it was acting like Son of Blob from the old horror movies, flowing against gravity in search of prey.

I tried over and over, adding more water, scraping the sludge-monster down off the beaters. But within seconds of turning on the mixer the sludge was on the prowl again.

So I finally gave up.

On the power tools, not the goal. A woman in need of brownies is not easily deterred. The stuff tasted okay, so… I greased up a square pan. Heavily, figuring I might need to make it difficult for Son O’Blob to crawl out of the pan. And then I plopped as much of the mass into the pan as I could pry and scrape free of the beaters.

And then I tried to spread it out. Yeah. There was zero friction against the greasy pan AND the stuff had a cohesive springy texture. It was sort of like trying to spread a (chocolate?) pizza dough that hadn’t been given any time to rest. It’s alive!

Finally it was laying more or less flat, more or less covering the bottom of the pan. I bunged it into a 350 degree oven, set the timer for 30 minutes as a pure guess and slammed the door on it. If nothing else, I figured the Blob would roast to death and could be disposed of WITHOUT needing to call in the National Guard with flame throwers.

So when the timer when off, I cautiously opened the door. Hmmm. It didn’t look like brownies at all. It had risen up to fill the entire pan to the top of the sides. On the other hand, it did look – and smell – rather good. So I poked it with a toothpick, which came out clean. To my surprise, given that the result was at least three times as thick as a normal brownie and should have taken much longer to cook. So I tried cutting out a little piece in the corner of the pan. Which came out neatly, looked done… and, swear to god, it actually tastes GOOD.

Not like a brownie, really, the texture is wrong. Much more like a dense cake – anyone remember those ‘snack cake’ mixes from decades ago? Where you dumped the mix, one tablespoon of vinegar, and some water into the pan, stirred and baked? It seemed like a close cousin of that.

But it was warm and sweet and chocolatey. Close enough, I guess. At least to keep me from further mad scientist experiments for now.

Sometimes failures are a lot of tasty fun. And sometimes not. I once tried to make Alton Browns Ultimate chocolate chip cookie and I seriously misjudged the amount of butter. I tried all kinds of things to revive it and then eventually fried it up like a pancake. I ate some of it… a very hard thick bannock like, greasy chocolate chip thing that all melted and ran and… it wasn’t terrible… but it wasn’t good either. My family had an intervention before I tried to make them into truffle type things dipped in chocolate. :smiley:

Next time, whether you use a brownie mix or a cake mix, substitute the eggs and oil for a can of black beans. We’ve been making/eating black bean brownies for years.

Beans? Really? Color me skeptical.

Mona Lisa, and then you chop up the result and stir them into ice cream… :smiley:

Username/post combo noted. :smiley:

Duckster, we’re fighting ignorance here. Please make a batch for us all to taste-test in the name of science. Be sure you make enough for the whole class to share.

Kit-Kat cake.

The big difference between brownies and cake is the amount of leavening. Since it was a mix then you are at a disadvantage and should have just learned to want cake.
If you wanted to go the other way with a brownie mix you probably could get cake by adding some baking powder.

You may have had more luck starting with the coco mix and flour and skip the cake mix entirely.

Yes, really, on the black bean brownies. I’ve made them, they are good, no hint of bean flavor and they’re actually better for you - no oil, and lots of fiber!

Just chiming in because I think “unrequited brownie lust” is a great phrase. :smiley:

Well, I served the 'brownie-ish" things at supper, and my guy ate three of them, so I guess that means they were at least okay.

Still intend to lay in some cocoa AND Baker’s chocolate tomorrow. I will not be caught short again! <shakes handful of carrots at the sky>>

Thank you for the support. Not sure if I should mention homemade pizza with a delicious, crunchy all cauliflower crust.

The OP is one of the best-written I have seen for a while, kudos.

Years ago, when we first acquired a breadmaker, my younger brother (who was probably about 12 at the time) attempted to make a cake in it. He wasn’t crazy - it was actually a recipe in the book that came with the machine. However, I think he must have forgotten to add the sugar, because it came out as a dense slab of the strangest-tasting cake I have ever experienced. It wasn’t so much that it was outrageously bad, more that its appearance deceived you into thinking it was cake but it tasted almost, but not quite, entirely unlike cake (with apologies to Douglas Adams). Oh well, at least the birds liked it.

Moved MPSIMS --> Cafe Society.

While I am glad to hear that everything turned out all right re the not-quite brownies, this really isn’t a good strategy for dealing with evil food or other objects–see what happened to Karen Black when she tried it with that Zuni fetish doll.

Hmm. I tried the OP’s tactic last night: box of cake mix, one egg, .5 cup oil, .5 cup water. It’s interesting. I’d call it an average brownie except it doesn’t have the crackly top and is still very fluffy.

The mixes were on sale so I have another one. Once I manage to offload the rest of last night’s experiment on other people (it tastes good, I just don’t need to eat a 9x13 of ersatz brownie by myself), I’ll try again. I wonder if letting the mix sit for a while before being baked will allow a crucial amount of CO[sub]2[/sub] out and result in a denser product.

Eeeps! That was meant as a CAUTIONARY TALE not a RECIPE!

Something no True Brownie Lover will ever say. :smiley:

I’ve heard (but cannot personally vouch for it) that adding another egg and perhaps more oil might help.

I just leave out the water and maintain the other proportions, and they turn out well

I have tried the black bean substitute in a brownie recipe before. It was Not Good. And other people around me that tried those not-brownies agreed. Yarf.