My first real job was in a bakery, between semesters at college. I had hardly cooked before in my life, and this quaint, hidden little bakery was the perfect first job. It’s where I learned what it was like to wake up at 4 am and dive elbow deep into flour and kolache dough. Where I realized that no matter how young and spry you are, standing on a concrete floor for 8 hours is the worst. And it’s where I found out food customer service is really. really. really hard. And I hate it.
The chef there was making a batch of brownies one morning, lo and behold, from a box… I asked why, since she had been so adamant to do every single other thing from scratch. Her response was, “a box mix of brownies is just as good as a scratch recipe for brownies.” And I haven’t thought to argue with that statement since.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve prepared for a party, group hangout, ladies night, etc… by making some shmancy, impressive dessert that I hope will set me apart. But the hot pan of from-the-box brownies that someone else brings always trumps whatever obnoxious thing I made. It never fails. For me, boxed brownies are the thing I think I should hate, but can’t. Like Kraft Mac and Cheese. Or Lady Gaga.
From there, the chef went on to turn that humble bag of dry brown stuff into one of the most amazing desserts I’ve ever tasted. A double batch of fudgy brownie mix. Half smeared into an aluminum foil-lined pan, then layered with 3 Hershey’s Symphony candy bars, and smothered with the other half of brownie mix. Bake. Cool. Cut into American-sized wedges. Eat. Shake a little from all the sugar. Take a nap.
The Hershey’s Symphony bars are a glorious conglomeration of milk chocolate, almonds, and toffee, sandwiched between two layers of the fudgiest brand of brownies you can get your hands on. People take a bite and ask, “Oh my gosh… what is that? Is it caramel? Is it toffee? Is it crack?” No. It’s heaven. The wedge cut is vital, both for presentation and taste. The monstrous wedge inflicts shock and awe on its predator, and it appeases the gooey-center lovers AND the crisp-edge lovers.
I’ve seen the method of this recipe since working in that now-closed bakery several times, but this dessert’s voice hasn’t been heard nearly enough. It has a flawless, irresistible record. Below is a list of these brownie’s accomplishments/accolades:
1. I’ve literally heard someone growl for them.
2. Feelings have been legitimately hurt when I joked about making them for a coworker’s birthday and then didn’t.
3. Bonafide diabetics ask me when I’m making them again.
4. Skinny girls declare they can’t possibly eat a whole wedge, then demolish it, Tina Fey style.
5. All friends and coworkers, past and present, know these as simply, “The Brownies”.
They’re a win. The biggest, easiest, win you’ll ever bake. Aaaaaaaand if you eat them for breakfast with coffee you are absolutely guaranteed the most productive morning at work in your entire life. And then you’ll need to take a half day to sleep it off. But it’s worth it.
Double Decker Candy Bar Brownies
- 2 packages of brownie mix (I use Ghiradelli Double Chocolate)
- Double the required eggs, water, and vegetable oil from the box instructions
- 3 Hershey’s Symphony Bars milk chocolate, almonds, and toffee chips)
- Baking spray
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in both packages of brownie mix. Double the amount of eggs, water, and vegetable oil listed on the back of one box, and add to the brownie mix. If it lists a “fudgy” option, follow that recipe. Mix until combined with a paddle attachment.
- Line a 9″x13″ baking pan with tin foil, making sure it lines the sides. Spray liberally with baking spray.
- Pour half of the wet brownie mixture into the pan, and spread to the edges with a spatula. Unwrap the chocolate bars and lay side by side, vertically, across the first layer of brownie batter. Pour the last of the batter on top of the bars, and spread evenly to the edges, covering all of the chocolate bars.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool completely. Taking the edges of the tin foil, lift completely out of the pan, and unwrap the edges of foil. Using a long, sharp knife, cut into wedges, following the image of the second from top picture: cut in half vertically and horizontally, then cut both vertical halves in half. From there, cut each rectangle into a large wedge.