Funny the things we make from boxes. Brownies, cakes, cupcakes - these are all box staples, and decent ones. I have yet to make a truly good cupcake from scratch, actually. And I haven't tried a cake ... I made a chiffon cake once. All of my box cupcakes are marvelous. Somehow, when I get compliments, I just don't feel right taking credit for them. I used to get tons of compliments on my brownies too. What was my secret, I was asked. The secret? Choosing the cheapest box of brownies on the shelf. Refuse to pay over $2 for a box of brownie mix and you will not go wrong!
There was a bon voyage party for a Spaniard at work and I wanted to take two things: one very Spanish and one very American. I was going to make tortilla espanola, but ran out of time, so only made the brownies. I thought these were pretty darn American. And pretty darn good.
And from scratch!
It was the first time I made brownies from scratch. Well, the second time. I am ashamed to say that the first time, I wrote the directions down incorrectly and added 1.5 cups of oil instead of 1/2 a cup. The result was interesting. The brownies almost tasted normal, but you could wring the oil out and they didn't hold together at all. Kitchen errors like this anger me. So the second time around I was very careful. It's a Test Kitchen recipe, and they like to weigh as opposed to measure when they bake things, so that's what I did. The brownies were the best I've had. I felt very accomplished making them from scratch and not using something with preservatives and corn products in it.
I think I am converted to weighing for baking too. I made the brownies a third time to take across the street for a BBQ. They were delicious again, but a little different, and I think it was because I measured instead of weighed.