A simple-yet-brilliant hack for better boxed brownies

Plus, a way to use up leftovers from your morning brew

Published February 24, 2023 3:05PM (EST)

Brownies (Mark Weinberg)
Brownies (Mark Weinberg)

This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

We know that adding coffee to anything chocolate will heighten and intensify those rich and, well, chocolatey flavors. A small amount of brewed coffee or espresso (or the powdered instant stuff) will make chocolate cakes, cookies, frostings, and other treats taste more like themselves, without contributing an overtly 'coffee-ish' flavor. It's a baking trick we've relied on for years, which is why we were shocked to realize we'd missed a genius—and simple—opportunity to combine these magical ingredients: the humble boxed brownie mix.

As with so many of today's food trends, this one has been gaining traction on TikTok. All it requires is that, when making brownies from a mix, you replace the water with brewed coffee or espresso. It doesn't get easier than that—and, rather than sending it down the drain, the trick is a great way to repurpose any leftovers from your morning cup o' Joe.

Many others on the app have posted about this trick over the past year, so it's not exactly new (maybe you've already tried it yourself?), but its popularity appears to be on the rise. America's Test Kitchen also backs up the method, noting that it will result in "better, more [chocolatey] brownies."

Just keep in mind that, due to caffeine's structure and high boiling point, it won't "cook out" like alcohol does. So, if you add coffee to your baked goods, they will be caffeinated. In most cases, the amount of coffee will be small enough that the caffeine content in a single brownie will be negligible, but it's something to consider if you're especially concerned about caffeine intake. Of course, you could always swap out regular coffee for decaf—your brownies won't know the difference.


By Anabelle Doliner

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