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Sometimes when I'm lucky and in line at Whole Foods, there are free two-bite brownies. I find them irresistible, with their flaky tops and sunken, fudgy centers. Plus, they're practically guilt-free—everyone knows that calories from supermarket samples don't count.

Given my love for Whole Foods two-bites, I was eager to try out Pillsbury's new Brownie Minis mix flavors: raspberry and caramel. If there is any way to improve upon warm, chocolaty perfection, it's by infusing it with gooey jam or sticky, salty caramel. (Full disclosure: Pillsbury sent these mixes to me as part of a press kit.)

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The Pillsbury Brownie Minis mixes are actually more like little kits. Each box contains two disposable plastic mini-muffin pans, each with six cups; two bags of brownie mix; and two squeezable packets of filling. I appreciated that Pillsbury made it so easy to prepare a half-batch of brownies. One pan is the perfect amount of dessert for two people.

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I decided to prepare one pan of each flavor. Making the batter was easy. All I had to do was add 1 1/2 tablespoons of water to the contents of one bag of mix from each box. Then I spooned about one teaspoon of batter into each of the muffin cups, and topped each with a blob of either the caramel sauce or the raspberry jam. Lastly, I dropped the last of the brownie batter in dollops over the filling and slid the pans in the oven for 17 minutes.

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The brownies emerged each about the size of a ping-pong ball. The tops were nice and shiny, and here and there I could see promising pockets of oozing, molten jam or caramel. The flavor was quite good, too. They tasted like a great version of a brownie made with cocoa powder—not quite as sumptuous as one made from chocolate, but certainly nothing to complain about. The raspberry jam infused the raspberry minis with a fruity, almost boozy note, and the caramel sauce gave the caramel minis a buttery, brown-sugar flavor. My biggest complaint was that each could have used a bit more filling. While I could definitely taste the raspberry and caramel, there was no "burst" in the middle, like there is at the center of a Hostess cupcake.

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Were the Pillsbury Brownie Minis as good as homemade? Definitely not. But I prepared them in less than five minutes, there were no added ingredients except for water, and I only had to wash one bowl and one spoon. Plus, baking only one pan was like automatic portion control. There was no danger I would "accidentally" devour an entire pan. And let's face it: stranger things have happened.


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