Psst Your caramel brownies aren’t as good as they used to be. It’s not you. It’s not them. It’s…DUN DUN DUN…shrinkflation. *insert scream here*
I’m sure you’ve noticed over the past several years that the amount of product in food packages is shrinking.
What is SHRINKFLATION in baking?
Well, shrinkflation is like product downsizing. Companies save money by putting less product in their packages. Usually, the size of the package stays the same. (And, um, so does the price.)
While over the last year or so, shrinkflation is getting a lot of news coverage,
it’s been happening for decades.
I first noticed this many years ago when making caramel brownies. They are one of my very, very favorite desserts;
I think caramel brownies are actually in my TOP FIVE desserts of all time. They’re soft, decadent, and gooey in the best possible way.
For older recipes, like caramel brownies, we have to adjust for shrinkflation.
Other Names for Caramel Brownies
This recipe has been around for ages…my mom used to make them when we were kids. She made them for years, and now I’ve been making them for decades. The simple recipe uses a cake mix, evaporated milk, butter, caramels, chocolate chips, and pecans.
I’ve seen these called Knock You Naked Brownies, and when made without nuts, Milky Way Brownies, but
in my heart, they’ll always be Caramel Brownies.
So, I noticed as I was making them that the batter wasn’t easily covering the entire bottom of the pan. Also, the caramel sauce seemed a little skimpy. The reason? Shrinkflation.
Let’s Make Caramel Brownies, adjusted for shrinkflation and package downsizing.
It all starts with German Chocolate cake mix. The original recipe calls for one box. You’re going to buy two.
You’ll also need a digital scale. Trust me. Years ago, I didn’t think I really needed one, but I bought one anyway. I’ve never regretted having it. You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll use it. I’ve had a few, but this is the one
digital scale I’m loving right now. It’s only $15.99 on
Place a bowl on the scale and zero out the weight. (Press the TARE button.) Add one full package of cake mix plus enough from the second box to come to 18.3 ounces (or 18.25 if your scale goes to the hundredth place).
Continue with the recipe, mixing the cake mix with evaporated milk and butter. Spread half into a pan and partially bake.
While that bakes, let’s deal with the caramel situation.
Back in the day, making the caramel sauce involved unwrapping about a jillion (give or take) wrapped caramels. Kraft seems to have replaced those with
caramel bits. They are so much easier, BUT guess what? A package of caramel bits is 11 ounces, whereas the wrapped caramels were 14 ounces.
So, you’ll use the same method as the cake mix. Add caramel bits from a second bag to equal 14 ounces.
You can see here that I measured out 3 ounces more, but in case the package shrinks again, know it’s 14 ounces total.
You’ll melt the caramels with evaporated milk.
Scatter chocolate chips and pecans over the partially baked brownie layer. Pour caramel sauce over the top.
Spoon the remaining batter on top. Don’t worry about every bit of the caramel being covered – it’s nice to see some peeking through in the finished product. Bake until done.
Guess what? When you save the remaining cake mix and caramel bits, you’re ready to make another batch! And you’ll want to.
Caramel Brownies, adjusted for shrinkflation and package downsizing
2 packages German Chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup salted butter, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
Kraft caramel bits
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350. (Optional: lightly grease a 13×9-inch pan and line with parchment paper. Otherwise, leave the pan ungreased.)
Use a digital scale to measure 18.25-18.3 ounces of cake mix from two boxes into a bowl. Reserve the remaining dry cake mix for another batch. Stir in melted butter and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Spread half of the batter evenly into the pan and bake for 6-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, measure 14 ounces of caramel bits from two packages. Reserve remaining bits for another bake. Place in a saucepan with remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and heat over medium-low until melted and smooth.
Remove pan from above. While hot, sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over the top. Slowly pour melted caramel evenly over the top.
Spoon remaining batter on top. It will spread while baking, and it’s ok to have some caramel showing. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.
Shrinkflation Caramel Brownies! Returned to their former glory.