In case you haven’t figured it out by now, there are few things I am obsessed with more than peanut butter. Actually there is probably nothing I am more obsessed with in the food realm…aside from perhaps chocolate. And steak. And in the non-food realm, aside from the generalizations of family that everyone will give you, list making is the only thing that readily comes to mind. And I am not at all kidding. Peanut butter sandwiches. Pretty much every day. I hear that that’s probably not something I should admit because I should be eating things like creative salads and homemade pita breads that I would then in turn tell you about. But I just love peanut butter too much.
And what’s more is that even after eating a peanut butter sandwich, I can then easily turn around and have a peanut butter focused dessert. Peanut butter pie. Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing. Peanut butter cookies. No, I do not tire of things I love. Especially when it comes in so many different forms.
And here is yet another one. Fudgy brownies with a creamy peanut butter buttercream frosting (and topped with chocolate ganache of course).
Let’s start with the first layer. Butter, cocoa powder, and sugar melted together. And then a minimum amount of flour. Really, I could hardly spread these out in the pan. And I take that as a good sign. Then we have the second layer: peanut butter and butter mixed together with powdered sugar. I was making these brownies at my parents’ house (as we are currently kitchen-less) and my mother got home from work and we licked the bowl clean. And I only felt a little bad about it. For the third layer and batch of melted chocolate and butter spread on the top that I think hardly needs description because, duh, chocolate.
There are chocolate chips in the brownies and, hypothetically, salted peanuts in the peanut butter layer. But I forgot about the peanuts (not as I was making them…more like I forgot to get them at the store). So they have the perfect crunch to match the fudgyness, and with the bit of extra salt in the brownie and peanut butter layers, the perfect balance of salty and sweet.
Keep these in the fridge because there’s milk in the peanut butter layer and it just helps to keep them together in general. But I don’t think you’ll have any problem forgetting they are back there.
Fudgy Salty Peanut Butter Brownies
adapted from Anne Thornton
Prep Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Wait Time: 1 1/2 hours
Makes 12-16 brownies
For the brownies:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
For the peanut butter layer:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)
1 1/4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups salted cocktail peanuts
For the ganache layer:
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
7 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place a large heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add butter to melt. While the butter is melting, whisk together cocoa powder, salt, and sugar in small bowl. Once the butter has melted, add the cocoa mixture and whisk until the sugar is dissolved (it will be very fudgy). Take off the stove and set aside to cool.*
3. While the fudgy mixture is cooling, line a 9×13 pan with tinfoil or parchment paper, allowing a couple of inches to hang over each side so that you can easily remove the brownies later. Grease the parchment paper or foil well. (If you are using parchment paper, it might also be helpful to grease the pan before you lay down the parchment paper).
4. When the fudge mixture has cooled, stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated. Once it is blended, stir the mixture vigorously for 45 strokes (this will help the brownies to be extra chewy, but since you are mixing by hand you don’t run the risk of overworking the flour). Then stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Spread the brownie mixture out evenly in your 9×13 pan, using an offset spatula or by greasing your hands and pressing the brownies down with your fingertips.
6. Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
7. While the brownies are cooling, mix together the peanut butter layer. In a medium sized bowl, mix together peanut butter and butter on medium speed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar and salt. With the mixer back on medium speed, add the milk and vanilla, mixing until it is fluffy and smooth.
8. Spread the peanut butter mixture evenly on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle peanuts evenly over the peanut butter layer, pressing them slightly in to the peanut butter mixture.
9. To make the ganache layer, place a medium-sized heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add chocolate and butter and warm just until it is melted, stirring often. (Alternately, you can heat the chocolate and butter together in the microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals until it is almost melted, allowing the residual heat to melt it the rest of the it).
10. Allow the ganache mixture to cool slightly, and then spread it evenly over the the peanut butter layer.
11. Chill the brownies in the refrigerator 1 1/2 hours before serving. Cut into squares and serve chilled.
*Or you can do I did and melt this in the microwave, but I don’t think the sugar dissolves as well as it should.