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IDEA ALLEY: Make-ahead mixes for gift-ready Kats

by Kelly Brant | December 1, 2021 at 1:47 a.m.
Brownies and mix from "Make-a-Mix Cookery" (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Make ahead mixes are enormous time- and money-savers in the kitchen and, when packaged in pretty canisters, make excellent gifts.

This brownie mix was a staple in our house when I was growing up. My dad, who celebrated his 79th birthday two weeks ago, requested these brownies instead of cake.

The recipe easily doubles if you have a bowl large enough to mix it and a suitable container for storage. The recipe is adapted from "Make-a-Mix Cookery" by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward and Madeline Westover.

Brownie Mix

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening

In a very large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add sugar and cocoa. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening, blending until it is evenly distributed. Transfer mixture to a large airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. Use within 3 months.

Makes about 9 cups or enough for 4 batches of brownies.

To bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 2 lightly beaten eggs, ¼ cup milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 ½ cups brownie mix. Stir until smooth. Stir in ½ cup chopped nuts, chocolate chips, fruit preserves or another add-in if desired. Spread mixture in prepared baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until edges separate from pan. Cool and cut into 2-inch bars.

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Hot Cocoa Mix

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (see note)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ cups nonfat dry milk (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Up to 2 teaspoons vanilla powder, optional
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, optional
  • Mini chocolate chips and/or miniature marshmallows, optional

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

To prepare: Place about 2 tablespoons mix in the bottom of a mug and add about ¼ cup hot water or hot milk and stir to dissolve, then fill mug with more hot water or hot milk.

Makes about 5 ½ cups mix or enough for about 30 servings.

Note: For a richer hot cocoa replace some of the confectioners' sugar and nonfat dry milk with powdered coffee creamer.

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