Symphony Brownies

by Cate on February 9, 2009


Last month I got into a conversation with a guest at a party about all the things she baked over the recent holiday … toffee, shortbread, brownies and countless other items, each one sounding better than the next. “And then I made Symphony Brownies.  I made them so many times I’m sick of them now, but they’re so good,” she said. “Symphony Brownies?”  This was a new one on me. “You’ve never heard of them?  They’re all over the net and very simple to make.”  She rattled off the ingredients and I was already making a mental grocery list of items to buy on the way home. It starts with a box mix.  Actually two box mixes.  And three big candy bars.  And nuts.  There’s nothing wrong with making a box mix once in awhile.  Or all the time.  It depends on your comfort level, your motivation and available hours in the day, you know?  Truth be told, as much made-from-scratch baking as I do, I always have a few boxes on hand for those spur of the moment times. The week we went away on vacation, and a few days after our baking conversation, we had our monthly supper club gathering.  Although the theme was tapas, which I love, I brought the brownies as an extra dish.  They were everything she said they were and more … fudgy, dense, decadent and sinfully delicious.  So now when I have box mixes on hand, it will be to make these. When I google’d “symphony brownies,” who should pop up but Paula Deen?  Unless she got it from someone else, it looks like the recipe is hers, and there’s even a video of her making them on Food Network with one of her sons.  She gilds the lily a bit by topping the brownies with powdered sugar and candied whipped cream, but I think we can safely skip that.  No matter how you serve them, they’re sure to satisfy your sweet tooth just fine. Symphony Brownies 2 brownie mixes (you want to look for ones that have a 9×13 pan as a baking option; not all do; I used Duncan Hines’ fudgy brownie mixes) 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 3 Hershey’s Symphony bars Preheat oven per brownie mix directions.  Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.  Mix up one brownie mix, following the directions on the back of the box.  Add 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts to batter.  Pour it into the baking dish.  Unwrap the three Symphony bars and place them on top of the batter, side by side.  Mix up the second box of brownies, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts to the batter, and pour the batter into the baking dish, over the Symphony bars.  Bake 40 minutes.  Allow brownies to cool.  Cut and devour. Notes:  These cut a lot neater if you wait for them to completely cool.  I was running late for Supper Club, so didn’t.   You can obviously make both boxes of brownie mix at the same time and just put half in the dish, add the candy bars, and then the other half.  I mixed it by hand, so found it easier to mix up each box separately.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire February 9, 2009 at 11:57 pm

THis is my brother’s favorite brownie recipe…except without the nuts! I usually use only one brownie mix but it is kind of hard to spread. I use the Martha White, which may be a southern brand, version. These are divine brownies. You can make them with chocolate bars with Butterfinger in them as well and that’s pretty good.

Claires last blog post..Birthdays All Around


maris February 10, 2009 at 1:31 am

Sounds delicious…I agree that there is always a time and place for boxed mixes. Even for “real food” – I never thought I would use a box of macaroni and cheese that I’d had in my cupboard for ages but I made it when I was just sick and I was sure glad I had it!

mariss last blog post..My Actual Favorite Movie…and Chocolate Chip Scones


jan February 10, 2009 at 11:06 am

my signature brownies used to be boxed mix brownies with instant espresso powder (medaglia d’oro) and a scoop of raspberry chocolate chips. When baked, I’d dust the top with some powdered sugar and a smidge of cinnamon.
I did the same thing with espresso and butterscotch chips. These often went to office parties when I didn’t want to buy, but wanted something easy and showy.


paula February 10, 2009 at 11:10 am

Boxed brownies are definitely one of the better boxed items in the supermarket. I love homemade brownies but I’ve never turned down a boxed brownie either.

paulas last blog post..Yummy pork roast


lesley February 11, 2009 at 8:33 am

Hi Paula,
I’m a Tapas and a choc brownie lover, :0) I hadn’t heard of Symphony Brownies either, but I’m looking forward to making them, if I manage to get the right ingredients :0)

lesleys last blog post..Freezer Blues


Blond Duck February 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Those sound sooo good! Perfect for Ben’s b-day!

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darla February 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Hi Cate,
I loved your Nutella Fondue “recipe” and decided to share one with you,,,,,,Symphony Bar Fondue!

1/3 cup heavy (or whipping cream)
2, 6 oz. Symphony Bars, broken into pieces
1 Tblsp. almond flavored liqueur

Melt candy pcs. into cream in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add liqueur and pour into fondue pot (with tealight candle underneath). Dippers: Pound and angel food cake, strawberries, bananas, pretzels, etc. Super YUM!


jan February 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm

couldn’t you make the Symphony Bar Fondue in a mini-crockpot (lil dipper)? Crockpotlady would be all over this one since she ‘puffy-hearts’ the lil dipper.


Calgary alberta restaurants February 19, 2009 at 8:08 am

Just tried this recipe and I love how simple it is. The walnuts add a nice flavor. I find these brownies are best served with ice cream!


Daddy Cooking February 22, 2009 at 9:23 pm

This recipes looks chunkalicious! I’ve been on a brownie binge recently with my favorite over at King Arthur (, which has a recipe to die for.

Daddy Cookings last blog post..Baked Teriyaki Salmon Recipe


Cathy @ Chief Family Officer February 22, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Wow, decadent and simple, it doesn’t get any better than that! Now I know what I’m doing with those brownie mixes in my cupboard, thanks! :)


Kristine August 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Yum. These were fabulous. But I am having a problem getting them cooked in the middle. 350 for 45 minutes isn’t doing it… the edges are crunchy (which is actually delicious) but the insides are still mush (but yummy mush!). Any tips??


Cate August 10, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Kristine – the center part (the chocolate bar) doesn’t actually set up like you think it might/should. It remains slightly soft, with the top and brownie portion holding it together. Does that sound like what you have/make sense?

Darla – that fondue recipe sounds delish!

Claire – the butterfinger version sounds yummy – my mom is a fan of them, so think that might be my next version – thanks for the suggestion!


Cabin Decor March 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm

My favorite candy bar is a Symphony, so why not chop it and throw it in a brownie mix? I should’a thought of that, lol


Afajor May 2, 2010 at 8:31 am

I use boxed brownie mixes when I’m in a hurry, but this recipe with a few additions make it so much better! I’ll try this recipe and make it together with alfajores, which I’ll be trying soon!


Lori @ RecipeGirl May 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

How do these turn out… fudgy, cakey or chewy?


Cate May 27, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Lori, very fudgy.


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