Symphony Brownies – and Teaching Joy


So how is this whole parenting thing working out for ya? Not for wimps, huh? I’ve been at it myself going on thirteen years now and my respect for my mother (and awe at her still having hair in her head) has deepened daily.

Trying to raise two individuals, who each entered into this world with their own distinct personalities, is clearly one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever taken on, but also the most important and with rewards and a pay grade that will never be matched by anything else I do.

Teaching my kids values, morals, right and wrong, how to behave, show compassion, educating them, urging them to excel where they have the ability to excel rather than settling for “good enough”, building them up while gently reminding them of how far they have to go – Whew. I’m tired just typing about it.  And lets be honest here, instilling a work ethic into kids sure was easier back in my Grandmama’s day – but I don’t want my kids out picking cotton in a field so I have to get creative and be persistent. Man, this is heavy stuff.

In the midst of all this though, and equally important, is that I want us all to have some fun. I come from a fun family and I want my kids to say the same thing when they grow up. So as a result we joke, we kid, we prank, and we laugh. Every blessed chance we get.

Teaching your child to look for joy in their lives, in their days, and in each situation, is a lesson I rank right up there with teaching them to balance their checkbook, tie their shoes, and do the right thing. Without the ability to find joy in a situation and without the training to be on the lookout for it, we end up desolate and without hope. Depressed and without motivation. Down and out with no reason to rise. No sir. My kids won’t be going there.

We had joy in each day of our lives growing up. We had laughter and jokes and pranks and rear end pinches every time we happened to be bent over when our Mama came into the room. We had tickles and whoopee cushions and fake ice cubes with plastic flies in them. We had Elvis sing a longs that turned into strange operettas and breakfast biscuits that turned into bb gun skeet disks when Daddy decided to try his hand at making them by himself.

We had our share of hardships, too and there were times when our parents had to be serious with us, but those times were balanced with all of the moments they were silly with us as well.

Raising kids is serious business, and I do make mine tow the line, but remembering to teach them the valuable lesson of looking for joy and having fun in life is pretty serious business, too.

Buddy and Carol in Ecuador – Joyful folks!

I was reminded of this when I got to spend last week with some wonderful people, two of which were Buddy and Carol Smith. These are some joyful people. Always kind, looking after others before themselves, and just experts at making you feel loved. Carol and I talked a lot about our kids and her grandkids and during one conversation she said “You know, we have a lot of fun at our house when the grandkids come over. We just try to have fun with them. We’re always laughing and joking around.” We laughed with each other as we recounted the things we’d done with our own families. We talked about road trips and pranks, making our kids laugh and laughing right along with them. We spoke of the joy in our families – and then we talked about brownies :)

These are the brownies Carol told me about on one of our bus trips to a little village outside of Quito, Ecuador. “Oh! Have you ever made Symphony Brownies? Everyone just loves them!” she began, and I was already writing this post in my head as soon as she said the word “brownie”.

This is one of those super easy recipes that your kids will remember growing up with. I can hear our children now “My Mama was always pulling things to get me to laugh…Oh and she made these brownies! Everyone loved them…”

Look for the joy today but most importantly, each time you find it, remember show it to your kids.

You’ll need: Brownie Mix (the box that makes a 9×13 pan), and two symphony bars.

You’ll also need whatever ingredients your brownie mix calls for :)

The symphony bars I got are the large 8 ounce ones. You can use any type of chocolate bar you like or even individual chocolates (the mini bars).

Mix up your brownie mix according to package directions and spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.


Spread 1/2 of your brownie batter into the bottom of your baking dish.

Place your chocolate on top of the brownie batter. You may have to break it up a little bit to get it to fit but it’ll work.

And in the end you’ll have brownies…so it’s all good :)

Pour the rest of your brownie batter on top of the chocolate.

Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely.


Symphony Brownies
  • 1-9x13 size Box Brownie Mix, prepared according to package directions
  • 2- 8 ounce Symphony Bars (can use other milk chocolate bar)
  1. Spray an 8x8 baking dish lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Spread half of brownie batter in bottom of pan.
  3. Top with chocolate bars.
  4. Pour remaining brownie batter over top of chocolate bars and gently spread to cover.
  5. Place in 325 degree oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting. ENJOY! (and believe me, you will!)
  6. *We want to lower our oven temperature just a bit since these brownies are the amount for a 9x13 pan but we're baking them really thick in an 8x8 pan. Lowering our temperature will help them cook evenly instead of the outside getting done before the middle does.

How do you teach joy to your family?


What is the best prank you’ve ever pulled on them?


Tell us in the comments below!


Weeds are nothing but flowers in disguise!

Submitted by Linda (thanks, Linda!). Submit your quote or read many others by clicking here.


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  1. Sandi P says

    Okay, I think I’m having a chocolate overload problem. These are the best and richest brownies I have ever had. they fixed my chocolate craving for sure (for a little while anyway).

  2. Peggy says

    Okay. I have to confess. Went to the store last Friday to pick up the Symphony bars to make this and was sucked in by the huge selection of candy bars in the section. Soooo……long story short I had to make multiple variations. We did one pan half Symphony Bar and Half Cookies and Cream bar. Next Pan had the Hershey’s bar with caramel in the middle (awesome) and then of course the old Stand by Reese’s…

    All I can say is they were all awesome and I made alot of people happy. I give away most of what I bake. So the guys at his job got a tray. My sons job got a tray, the girls at my fav diner got some and I even took a plateful to the boys at the Local Car Junk Yard. There were all inhaled quickly.

    Thank you soo much for these awesome recipes. Love them.

  3. says

    Cannot wait to try these!!! My husband really loves brownies, and making some for him with this surprise twist just may be part of our anniversary later this month. Thank you so much for sharing the joy with us all!!!

    I have to add, I have an autographed copy of your cookbook and I have to keep an eye on it when certain friends come over. I just know they want to switch it out with their un-signed copy!

  4. Fran says

    I knew there was some reason I saved the email about these brownies to read for the weekend. Sounds perfect for when the grandson comes over later this evening.

    As for raising children, mine are all grown, but we have such wonderful memories of that time. We weren’t perfect as parents & money was tight especially during my “stay at home” years with 3 little ones under 5, but we had fun & love. One of my favorite sayings about raising kids is:

    The days are long but the years are short. (So true!) =^..^=

  5. Donna Bingen says

    Hey Christy! I made your symphony brownies for our cub scout blue and gold ceremony and they were a huge hit!!! Very yummy!!! I just love all of your recipes! All my family is in Alabama and my stepmom bought me your cookbook for Christmas one year and the next year I bought one for my grandmother. Your cookbook is creating good memories in our family! Blessings, Donna Bingen in Durham, NC.

  6. says

    I just mixed up a batch of these Symphony brownies and I’m sitting here wondering what went wrong. First of all, I could not find an 8-ounce Symphony bar . . . I found 4.2 and 6.8 (the 6.8 bar had the words Giant Bar on them like the picture). I used an 8×8 Pyrex dish. And since I couldn’t find the 8-ounce bar, I was trying to use two 6.8 ounce bars. Even that size bar would not BEGIN to fit in my 8×8 dish. So what gives here? Anybody who has successfully made these brownies, please tell me what YOU used. I can’t believe a recipe as simple as this did not pan out at all like the step-by-step pictures above. Help!!!!

    • tammy says

      I sai the same thing……i beleive that is a mistake.because the 4.oz bar is the giant bar…so i bought 2and they fit perfectly on top the mix in my 8×8 pan…beware very choclately…..i shoud have cooked mine a little longer..the middle was to melty..but we loved it…husband not so much….he isnt a big sweet chocolate fan like my kids and I….walgeens has the bars on sale too..2 for 2.50…enjoy.hope this helps..ust buy to large bars and u will be fine….

  7. Jennifer Campbell says

    I was looking for an easy recipe for girls night tonight (my husband has to work late so it is just me and my 3yr old) and I remembered you had posted this last month. I am looking forward to making them tonight.

  8. debbiecz says

    Hi Christy – I was looking for the comments on pranks but don’t see it. Aaannywaaays…we’ve had quite a few pranks around our house these days. Our 16 yr old daughter is on a softball team. After their first win the seniors TP’d all the houses of the younger players. When they got to our house the dog barked and I instantly yelled at the “intruders” not realizing they were a bunch of girls. The poor things jumped into the car and tore off up the street. Unfortunately we live on a dead end so 5 mins later they drove (sheepishly) by our house trying not to be seen. I encouraged the retaliation with TPing the seniors cars – wrapping rolls of toilet paper under and around the cars while they were at practice. Pranking is a fine & noble art that should only be undertaken by the most serious of pranksters.

  9. Valerie says

    I gotta be honest and tell you I tried something like these before, got the recipe from Paul Deen’s website after I watched her make them on her show (shhhh, don’t wanna hurt her feelings) and heaven knows I might of done something wrong. But I made them before with the same ingredients but called for a 13 x 9 pan. They were pretty flat when they came out. Then I saw your recipe and I figured a smaller plan must make fatter brownies. I don’t have a 8×8 pan but did have a 9×9 and I used 3 bars of candy so it was all covered cause we didn’t want to hurt any of the brownies feelings either. They are amazingly yummy and now I want to go out and buy every “biggie” candy bar I can find and make more. I gotta tell you, between you, Paula Deen and Trisha Yearwood…we sure do enjoy some yummy good food around here! When’s that next cookbook coming out? Can’t wait!

  10. Lisa Horner says

    These brownies with symphony bars looked sooo delicious I had to make some and they were TERRIFIC! Shared the brownies and they were a big hit. Love ALL your recipes, thanks so much for sharing these treasures.

  11. Lisa Valentino says

    I found this recipe incredibly difficult! :(
    Symphony bars happen to be my all-time chocolate fave so it
    was REALLY hard to stop eating & put them into the batter. Took
    several trips to the store for re-purchase. Fantastic outcome! :)

  12. Angie Smith says

    Thanks for this recipe Christy! These look absolutely FANTASTIC! I may have to run by the store on the way home just to get the ingredients to bake tonight as a treat for my 8 year old since it was his first day of 3rd grade!

  13. says

    I have made these for several years with the toffee and almonds Symphony bars. They are always devoured! I use a 9 X 13 inch pan and 3 giant size bars,
    For an extra dose of chocolate, I sometimes top them with a very thin layer of chocolate fudge frosting. Wow! They are sooo good!

  14. Betty Niepoth says

    I made these the other day, I must have done something REALLY wrong, the bars I could find were the 4 oz size, so I doubled up, (making the total number of bars 8, costing about 24.00, and since I was making them for a group, made a double size of brownies too, in a 10×14 pan, they didn’t all fit, so I doubled them on top, the chocolate didn’t melt, is it supposed to? did you mean to use the 4 oz size, not 8 oz? so disappointed. HELP???

    • says

      EEEk. I’d be dying, too! I completely understand. So much money! The chocolate doesn’t melt into the brownies, it forms a layer, as seen in the photograph. When you doubled the brownies and doubled the chocolate, you would have had to make some adjustments in the cooking time. You didn’t say how the brownies turned out after they were baked. Did you cook them longer? My instructions are for an 8×8 pan. If you made a 10×14, you would have needed to lower the oven temp and cook them longer. I did use the 8 ounce size, as stated in the recipe. I’m wondering how these turned out now!

    • Betty Niepoth says

      I did cook them longer. I did cook them in the lower temp. They were not tasty. Just WAY too much chocolate, and not done. I do want to try them again, with just one layer of the chocolate bars, For me to get the amount of chocolate that you said, I had to get the 8 bars of 4 oz. bars, I wonder if the 8 oz bars are thicker? I can’t see how you got 2 8oz bars in 8″ pan? ANYWAY, they sound so good, I am going to try again (my husband had me scrape off the brownie part, and he is eating the chocolate bars…) We do love our chocolate..LOL

  15. says

    I am so sorry about your week and the bad news at work but I have to say that your co-workers are so lucky to have you! You must be great to work with!!Is there an empty desk next to you? I could kind of go for some brownies right about now….I hear you make the BEST!


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