A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

How to Cut Brownies

So you’ve been invited to a dinner party and the hostess has asked you to bring a dessert.

Don’t panic.

Even if baking is not your thing, you can pull this off with grace and dignity for a minimum amount of money or effort.

The answer is brownies.

Everyone loves ’em and it’s really hard to screw them up.

Just buy a box, follow the directions, and let them cool.

But don’t be a schmuck and turn a beautiful tray of brownies into this:

Yes, friends, that actually did happen to me once. Oh, the shame!

Listen, you have enough to worry about when you go to a friend’s house for dinner, like will your kids go crazy and break the hostess’s grandfather’s antique African kettle drum? Or will you have too many Margaritas and tell a story about how a mutual friend from high school took a dump on your mother’s car after you played a prank on him in 1987?

Hey, shit happens.

So make sure you don’t add to the drama with a mangled dessert.

A good dessert is your Get Out of Jail Free Card for all the other mistakes you may make during the evening.

And here’s the best part…you don’t need any special equipment.

Sure, we’ve all seen ads for the new brownie pan…

Save your money, Honey Bunny.

You can get the same results with a cheap plastic knife.

What? You don’t believe me?

Watch and learn, sweetie.

Here’s the before shot:

Mmmmm. Brownies.

Next, get your cheapo plastic disposable knife and cut the whole big brownie into two halves like so:

See how cleanly that plastic knife cuts? It’s a miracle!

Next, cut in half the other way so you have fourths. (Didn’t know you’d be getting a math lesson today, didja?)

Can you guess what’s next? Eighths!

I totally rock at fractions.

How to Cut Brownies by The Bearded Iris

See? How easy was that?! Plastic knife. Who knew?

You can take some vanilla ice cream with you and you have a perfectly simple and delicious dessert. Or go whole hog and bring choco-syrup and rainbow sprinkles too. The kids will go ape shit.

One last thing, brownies are really easy to jazz up if you want to make them fancy. My friend Anne adds peanut butter chips to her brownie batter: DELISH! No peanut butter chips in your pantry? You can also take spoonfuls of peanut butter, drop them onto the batter, and spread them out with a spatula before you bake the brownies. Fabulous!

If I’m feeling super fancy, I’ll substitute Kahlúa for the water in the basic boxed brownie recipe. The alcohol cooks off and you are left with a rich mocha flavor. Oooh la la!

So there you have it. Keep it sweet. Keep it simple. And keep it from not sucking. That’s my Just the Tip Tuesday secret for you.



© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Julie @ mamamash

    These are definitely not kale chips, and have much higher odds of making it into my mouth.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Have you even TRIED the kale chips yet?! Come on Julie. They taste and feel like potato chips! Try it. Try it. Try it!!! (But yeah, brownies win, hands down.)

  2. Barefeet InTheKitchen

    Keep it from not sucking is going to be my motto for today. Way too many things on the to do list and I’m just going to cross them off as soon as they don’t suck. Completed? nah. Just enough to get by? Yep. That will work. Thanks! That’s my tip for today.

    • The Bearded Iris

      LOVE THIS! You are absolutely right. I think we can apply this motto everywhere but the bedroom. Three cheers for NOT SUCKING.

      • Barefeet InTheKitchen

        LMAO! I almost snorted when I saw this reply.

        • Kim(aka badgasmom)

          Oh gawd! I’ve been applying the NO SUCKING rule in the bedroom all these years? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Screw the brownies. I’ve got more important things on my mind.

          • The Bearded Iris

            Bwahahahaha! Naughty girl. (I love it!)

  3. Allysgrandma

    You can also (if you want to be really fancy) fill up a bag with a little cute tip of real buttercream frosting and squrt put a little heart on each one. Yes I did that when I had to bake for my daughter’s first art show back in February!

    I totally need to do the peanut butter thing and I think I actually have some peanut butter chips….I know I have peanut butter M and M’s…..Thanks for the tip!

    • The Bearded Iris

      What the what?! That is WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND “not sucking.” Cheryl… quit making us all look bad, ya beaver! 😉

  4. Tara M

    I feel all of a sudden way less overwhelmed about cutting brownie squares. I always mess it up! Thanks for the tip!

    and thanks for the humour…I love reading your blog. Not only are you a great writer, but I love your honesty and sarcasm. Thanks!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Tara! So sweet of you to say!

  5. Laci

    Oh my what great advise, I would have never thought to put kahlua in the brownie mix. That would be one way to make sure that I get some brownies. For whatever reason my kids won’t touch anything if they know it’s been around booze. Little do they know the holiday ham they love is drenched with amaretto and the super yummy pork chops are marinated in a little Miller Lite. Silly kids one day they’ll learn.

    Oh and the plastic knife is a great idea too. Wouldn’t have thought of that either. 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hi Laci! Thanks for stopping by!
      Your pork chops, ham, and children sound amazing. Invite me to dinner and I’ll bring dessert and numerous inappropriate stories.

  6. Ann

    We buy Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix at Costco and it is truly the best brownie I’ve ever had. Better than homemade! You get 6 bags of mix and, silly me, I thought, “How will we ever use THAT up?”. As you can guess, it turned out to NOT be a problem after the first time we made them.

    I use a plastic knife too, I forget who told me that but nobody believes me when I tell them. Works every time and the brownies will look just like Iris’! BEAUTIFUL!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ann, I swear, how have we not known each other before this year? That is my favorite brownie mix too!

      • Ann

        I have a new Vodka. 3 Olives “Purple” Vodka, tastes like Grape Kool-Aid. I’m thinking of getting a Snoopy Snow Cone maker and doing some adult snow cones!

        • The Bearded Iris

          Get in your car right now and bring it here. I have a Vita-Mix. It can chop ice into snow cone or slush puppy form!!!

          • Ann

            Since I have a meeting at church tonight perhaps we should choose another time for our adult sno-cone party.

          • The Bearded Iris

            Ohhhh-kaaaaaay. 🙁 But let’s definitely choose another time!

  7. Kristen Kotrlik

    You could always turn the fucked up brownies into a trifle. I’m famous for that.
    And- is that the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker you used?

    Thanks for the tip, Toots!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Brilliant…just like your Scrabble plays. Why am I not surprised? (You twat!)

      No, it’s not The Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker… it’s the 9″x13″ Rectangular Baker. The brownie box says to use an 8″x8″ pan, but I like my brownies thinner and chewier so I use the 9″x13″ now. And the stoneware is fabulous. But really, it’s the plastic knife that makes the big difference. Use a plastic knife and you’ll never have to turn your brownies into a trifle again, unless you want to!

      • Heather

        Fuck – is that why you always serve trifles, KK??

      • Kate Yarris

        I never get trifles at your house, Kristen… just booze (which is totally okay with me), and sometimes coffee. And you haven’t shown up at a MNO in AGES, so next time I either expect to see you there with beautiful brownies (thank you, Iris), or a trifle.

  8. Dawn@LightenUp!

    Iris, you are downright full of shit, I mean, useful information! 😉

  9. Bedalia

    My latest kick is adding orange zest to my brownie batter – so yummy! Definitely have to try swirling peanut butter through the batter. We have a recipe that does the same with cream cheese (mixed with something, I think, but I haven’t made it that way in a long time so I can’t remember).

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, that sounds incredible. I love the combo of orange and chocolate! Must try that! Thanks!

      Oh, and I’ve tried the cream cheese swirlie thing and it wasn’t as good as the peanut butter swirl. And you don’t have to mix the peanut butter with anything… just use it as is!

  10. Heather

    Only you can make cutting a pan of brownies funny!! And, just so I know, why exactly would I want the Kahlúa to burn off?? 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      Why thank you, sweet thang!
      Fair enough question. Just in case you are serving the brownies to children or Mormons or your AA group, you prolly don’t want them to be all boozy tasting. But if you are serving them to a non-at-risk population, whip you can always just add some Kahlua to your whipped cream and party down! Whoot!

  11. Ivy

    I always put them in the fridge to get them cold then cut them. This seems much more logical. mmmm… now I want brownies!

    • Debbie M

      I’m much more likely to have access to a clean plastic knife than to have room in the fridge (and time to let the brownies cool down before running off to a party). But it’s good to have multiple options!

      • The Bearded Iris

        You should still let them cool though before you cut ’em. So if you’re in a hurry, take the plastic knife with you to the party and you can cut them in front of everyone like a magic trick! Oh, the oooohs-and-ahhhhs you’ll get from all the brownie-manglers!!

        • Debbie M


  12. Jellyhead

    I’d like a double order of the mocha version, please. Upgraded shipping, I’ll be home to sign for it. Thanks so much!

  13. Angela

    I like to put white chocolate chips in mine. And here’s another ‘Just the Tip’ for you, I make sure that my white chocolate chips are lightly coated in flour before I mix them in, that way they don’t sink to the bottom of the batter and stick to the pan. The plastic knife works wonders, but you’re screwed if the chips stick to the bottom. You end up with brownies that look awesome on the surface, but are raggedy messes underneath. Which is a good metaphor for my life.

    • Kate Yarris

      I love the flour idea for the chips! I always have that problem when I make banana bread with chocolate chips… the chips are stuck to the bottom and I have to sit int he kitchen picking them out and eating them. 🙂

    • JD @ Momagement

      OMG. Fab tip. I made a choc chip cookie pie and all the chips sank to the bottom. And it sucked. Next time I will coat those chips in a little flour and see it it helps. Thanks, Angela!

  14. Mikal

    Ok, so I have to add to your tip…because…yes, I have managed to screw it up before (even as simple as it sounds). My added tip is to 1) wait for the brownies to cool a bit or 2) use a nicer plastic knife. Otherwise, you could end up with melted plastic in your brownies. Go ME!

    • Debbie M

      I’m sorry, but I laughed. Thanks for the tip! I love learning these things the easy way.

  15. Jane

    I love the brownie recipe on the back of the Nestle’s chips bag. It’s easy and good. Although now that I live in denver I get very thin brownies-I’m going to try your reverse and put them in a smaller pan (duh!) and thanks for the plastic knife tip-brilliant!

  16. Michele

    Even more awesome brownies = frost them with nutella.

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, you could could frost an old shoe with nutella and it would be awesome.

      • JD @ Momagement

        OM. Nutella. The heavens are opening,

  17. Katybeth

    Wow! I wish I knew you before I bought one of those brownie pans! Can’t wait to give it a try…the brownie pan people lied to me about how well the pan would work and how perfect my brownies would be….its good to know I can count on you…right???

    Thank you for sharing this Brilliant tip!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Katybeth, I’m so sorry! One thing the pan is s’posed to do that the knife cannot is make four chewy edges on each brownie! I do loves me some chewy edges. But my kitchen is small and my storage space is limited, so I choose small plastic knife. Go make two batches and compare. I’ll wait right here.

      • Didi

        I swear, you kill me!!!! LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Katybeth

        I just posted this on Facebook and told everyone…
        “Here is another cool tip–cutting brownies with a plastic knife. Cole is trying it today–if it does not work we will whine loudly–not that the blog author will care much..Did you know she sacrificed chocolate bars–for the sake of religion?” I will let you know about the Brownies. 😀

        • The Bearded Iris

          I’m on the edge of my seat!!! Please let me know if it works for Cole! Any boy who can make a dry ice bomb can surely make a pan of brownies his bitch.

  18. Anne @ Domesblissity

    Oh, that’s just too funny Iris. LOL I wouldn’t have even bothered cutting it, letting the hostess cut it up and make a mess of it. You’re just too kind! You could’ve also left it uncut and called it a “Brownie Pudding” and spooned it out. That’s what I do with a cake/slice that’s meant to be cut but hasn’t got a hope in hell of standing up to a knife.

    Keep up the good work!

    • The Bearded Iris

      WHAT? Let the hostess cut it? Why didn’t I think of that?! Oh well. No need now…I’ve got my trusty plastic knife! Huzzah!

  19. April

    I’ve recently learned (through screwing up) to put in one less egg than the box says for a more dense chewy brownie if you like that kind.

    • Debbie M

      I do this trick for chocolate chip cookies (no eggs at all, actually) because otherwise mine come out to cakey.

      • The Bearded Iris

        Great tip! I hate cakey cookies! That’s why they’re called cookies and not cake. Der!

  20. Didi

    Don’t hate me… but cooking and baking is a passion of mine…
    I usually make “beautiful creations”, ppl envy me from afar…. CEPT FOR BROWNIES!!!

    They alway’s, but alway’s no matter the cooling/fridging whatever, CRUMBLE!!!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Making brownies for the holiday and I will USE YOUR TIP!!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Remember me fondly while you are slicing your beautiful fudgey creations!

  21. dizzy

    I’m pretty sure I love you. This was better than any Christmas gift I could receive. The peanut butter only made it better ; )

  22. Anne

    My brownies came out perfectly for the first time!!! Thanks so much for the tip on using the plastic knife . . . who knew?

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