Actually, I Have a Better Way to Make Those Viral Coffee Boxed Brownies

Actually, I Have a Better Way to Make Those Viral Coffee Boxed Brownies

Part of ageing is watching the younger generation “discover” things you’ve known about for years. It’s most common with music, movies, and fashion — I will never forget how excited I was to tell my parents about this obscure group I had discovered called “The Band” — but now it’s happening to me with food hacks.

If you’re a regular reader of Lifehacker, you’re most likely not on TikTok. There just isn’t a big overlap between the two demographics. But if you are, you’ve probably seen this viral video making the rounds.

In it, TikToker @katedavidsun hacks a box of brownie mix by replacing the water with coffee (or espresso). It’s not a new hack — it wasn’t even new when I covered it five years ago — but it is a good hack, and I’m glad Kate is spreading the word to the younger generation (many members of which were definitely not reading Lifehacker five years ago). The addition of coffee doesn’t make your brownies taste like a mocha, but it does add depth and nuance, intensifying chocolate flavours and obscuring any “processed” ones, giving the boxed dessert a more homemade quality.

How to make boxed coffee brownies even better

There is, however, another hack you should use to make your boxed mix brownies even better: Replace the vegetable oil with something more flavorful, like olive oil, pistachio oil, pumpkin seed oil, or any other oil that has some character. These oils further obscure the flavours we associate with a commercially-produced baked good, while providing some flavour of their own. Olive oil can bring fruity or peppery notes, pistachio oil is obviously nutty and slightly savoury, and pumpkin seed oil tastes rich and (like pistachio) deeply nutty. Like the coffee trick, all you have to do is replace the boring vegetable oil with the same volume of exciting oil, then bake as usual. I recommend using both hacks at once. (I love a double-hacked brownie.)

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