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Beginning at square one is generally a very good idea. Get the basics down, then move on. Starting over at square one has its merits too.

When it comes to baking, a box mix is likely the first place many start. Pillsbury and Duncan Hines have found their way into the hands of many a novice baker over the years. From there the projects may get to be a bit more ambitious, and the results that much more rewarding.

Sometimes time and necessity make us step back to square one, relying on a boxed mix even though our skills have progressed beyond the simple instructions on the back, adding an egg or two, water and cooking oil.

In this case, starting with a boxed mix allows you the luxury of getting clever and investing a bit more time with the toppings.

One mix, three different presentations.

Thanks Betty Crocker, you’re a life saver.


Ingredients:

■ ½ cup shortening (Crisco)

■ ½ cup butter, room temperature

■ ¼ cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly

■ 1 tablespoon espresso powder

■ 4 cups powdered sugar

■ 2 tablespoons half & half

■ 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat shortening and butter until fluffy. Add melted chocolate and combine. Add the espresso powder with one cup of the powdered sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, along with the half & half and vanilla, adjusting as needed for a thick yet spreadable consistency.

Spread over brownies, or pipe with a large decorating tip for a ridged effect.

Chill before cutting into squares. Garnish each with a chocolate-covered espresso bean.