Salted Peanut Butter Cup Brownies (Brownie Mix Shortcut)

The same says it all: salty sweet rich and decadent brownies swirled with luscious peanut butter and topped with peanut butter cups and crunchy sea salt. These salted peanut butter cup brownie mix brownies are tastebud heaven.

I made these a few weeks ago for Vegan Bites (which airs Thursday evenings on @spoonuniveristy Instagram stories) and wasn’t planning to put them on the blog, but the response to the episode was so positive I decided despite only having mediocre phone pics they deserved a place on kbaked.com.

You’ve probably noticed based on the title of the post that these brownies are made with a box mix. Now you may be saying “that’s cheating” or that “true bakers never use mixes.” To which I say your opinion is fair, however, I’ve come to find times and places for box mixes and like to keep them on hand for such occasions. They’re especially nice when you need to whip something up and find your baking pantry bare.

Making a cake for a special occasion is not, in my opinion, the place for a mix, but these brownies definitely are. All you have to do to make these is grab a box of brownie mix, some peanut butter cups, sea salt, oil/vegan butter, and an egg substitute, and you’re on your way to peanut butter cup brownie mix magic in a matter of minutes.

Now let’s talk brownie mix. Some are better than others. Look for an ingredient list that contains things you’d add at home and doesn’t contain too many things you wouldn’t (like DATEM and mono- and do-triglycerides, etc). I like Trader Joe’s, Annie’s, and Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes. Also check the ingredient list for animal ingredients. You’ll find many are accidentally vegan, making your life a wee bit easier.

You’re going to cook the brownie mix according to the package with a few modifications, swapping animal products for non-animal products. While many mixes call for oil, should yours call for butter, simply swap in vegan butter (like Earthbalance).

Now on to the milk. Should your box’s recipe call for milk, simply add your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk. I would go for the unsweetened, since box mixes tend to be far sweet enough already.

Lastly, the egg. This is the trickiest to swap but you can handle it. For quick breads, cookies, and muffins, swapping each egg with 1/4 cup applesauce or a flax or chia egg works fabulously. If you don’t mind a subtle banana taste, 1/2 a small ripe mashed banana will also work. For brownies, replacing an egg with a chia or flax eggs or 1/4 cup puréed silken tofu or canned pumpkin will do the trick. Cakes are a bit trickier and sometimes with delicate crumb, aquafaba is best, but know that chia and flax eggs will do just fine.

To make a chia or flax egg, simply combine 1 tablespoon flax or chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and allow to thicken for at least 10 minutes. Fabulous.

Now back to brownies: despite this long and winding post these truly couldn’t be easier. Make the brownies according to the mix instructions with swaps mentioned above, swirl in 1/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter, and bake according to time listed on the package.

When there’s a minute or two left in the bake time, chop up vegan peanut butter cups (like Justin’s dark chocolate) and when you pull the brownies out of the oven to cool, sprinkle the cups over the top of the hot brownies. You’ll notice the cups will start to melt slightly; this is perfect. Sprinkle with flakey sea salt to finish, allow to cool, and enjoy, preferably crumbled atop your favorite non-dairy ice cream (I’m partial to Van Leeuwen or So Delicious Cashew Milk – particularly their Caramel Cashew Cluster ice cream myself).

I hope you make these or that this recipe has inspired you to use that box of brownie mix in your pantry that has been sitting there lonely for months.

Salted Peanut Butter Cup Brownies (Brownie Mix Shortcut)

Level: Easy
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 20-30 minutes
serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 box egg and dairy free brownie mix (just check labels, many brands are vegan)
  • oil / water that the mix calls for -1/4 cup apple sauce, silken tofu, mashed sweet potato or 1 tablespoon chia + 2 tablespoons water per egg called for on box.
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (optional)
  • 10-12 nondairy peanut butter cups (optional, I like Justin’s dark chocolate)
  • 1-2 tablespoons flakey sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven and prepare mix per box instructions, subbing your egg replacement for eggs.
  2. Pour into well-greased pan.
  3. Swirl in peanut butter evenly throughout batter.
  4. Bake per time called for on box.
  5. Remove from oven. Immediately too with sea salt + chopped pb cups.
  6. Enjoy! 🤗

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