The Maxwell Moment: Baking Brini's Brownies

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Hi people!  In this segment from 2008 I'm making my coconut brownies - delightful morsels of naughtiness, heavy with rum and the flavor of the tropics. They're perfect for summer entertaining!

Now this recipe starts with a mix. The benefit of working with a mix is the convenience of it. You can throw together a quick dessert in a few minutes, bake it and have it ready in no time at all. This convenience comes at a price though. That price isn't taste, as most mixes produce quite tasty results. That price is individuality. Making your mark with a mix is the aim of this segment.

Now we've made a traditional brownie mix a bit more posh by giving it an island flavor. We've added coconut and coconut rum to the mix. Here's how:

You'll need:

1 Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge brownie mix
½ cup oil
¼ cup coconut rum
3 eggs
¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut
Dash more coconut rum

Prepare mix as directed on the box, swapping out the water for the coconut rum and adding the coconut after the other ingredients have been combined. Add the dash of rum after the shredded coconut has been mixed in. Bake as directed on the box. Frost the finished product with Buttercream icing (flavored with coconut extract) and garnish with more shredded coconut.

The key to making a mix your own and achieving professional results is preserving the chemistry of baking. I have a friend who always customizes his mixes and his cakes are always delicious, but they frequently don't hold together all that well and tend to be a bit lopsided. The reason for this is that he hasn't preserved the balance of liquid to solid ingredients and hasn't allowed for the leavening process.

The reason we add a dash of rum to the mix is to account for the added bulk to the recipe from the shredded coconut, and the liquid lost more quickly due to evaporation during the baking process -- alcohol evaporates more quickly than water.

I'm especially fond of doctoring brownie mixes. One of my favorite holiday recipes is made with a dark chocolate brownie mix, into which you add a teaspoon of peppermint extract. Then frost the brownies with butter cream icing and sprinkle crushed peppermint candy canes on top. I call them my peppermint bark brownies. I'll be featuring them in an upcoming episode around the holidays, so be sure and look for it!

If you're interested in learning more about customizing mixes be sure and have a look at The Cake Mix Doctor: ... Anne Byrn is a whiz at making mixes interesting!


Described as part Donna Reed, part Mary Tyler Moore, Maxwell makes kitsch feel classy through her unparalleled personal flair for home design, entertaining and savvy household tips. Inspired by a divine thrift shop purchase of 1950's nesting bowls, she first began sharing her vintage/classic know-how with other Manhattanites in 1998 through her self-titled cable access television show. With an emphasis on uncompromising fabulousness, Brini quickly garnered a devoted fan base and established herself as the go-to-girl on vintage fashion and mid-century modern treasures. After five years on the local airwaves her show was picked up by the Style Network. The subsequent series has been called a delightful success and has attracted a diverse audience thorough its national platform.

The Brini Maxwell Show

The pilot for the original show was produced in 1996. The show debuted on Manhattan Neighborhood Network on January 1, 1998, and aired for 5 years featuring tips, recipes, entertaining ideas, craft projects, home renovation and interior design schemes. It was produced by Sander's production company V.R.U.S.P. Inc. and directed by Sander's mother, Mary Jane Wells.

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Visit my official site for more info ►

Brini's own line of linen Jane Napkins! ►

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