Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Sometimes, one just needs to make brownies.
A very good example of such a time is when one has just moved 1,500 miles away from home, to a cold, strange city. And perhaps the snow one was hoping for when moving from the south has certainly not materialized, but a long string of cold, cloudy, smoggy days have taken its place. I’m just saying, sometimes a girl needs brownies.
My personal favorite and long-time fallback when it comes to brownies is none other than this classic, but this time I found myself in the mood for something different. The following is every bit as easy as it’s one-bowl compadre, although it does require several more bowls. The beauty of both is that they make use of pantry staples and yield rich, fudgy, delicious morsels. The trouble is, if you’re anything like us, you won’t be able to stop eating them. A bag-full in my freezer is living proof. I had to get them off the kitchen counter, for the sake of our health.
And if there’s one thing we know about chocolate, it would be that it’s pretty much made for peanut butter. Or maybe it’s the other way around; I don’t know. I’m too busy salivating over the memory of these brownies and struggling to resist the ones still in the freezer to figure it out. If you have any insight on this matter, please let us know. Until then, get your tail in the kitchen and make some brownies. Your significant other/child/friend/sister/babysitter will thank you. Your waistline, not so much.
Peanut Butter Brownies
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
ATK calls these “lunchbox brownies,” which conjurs all sorts of cute fantasies of tucking them away for little ones to eat at lunchtime. And I’ll agree with ATK that they are, indeed, sturdy enough for lunchbox packing. That being said, you definitely don’t need a kid or a lunchbox to make them. We have neither, and that certainly didn’t stop us.
Makes 16 brownies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped coarse
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (these are optional)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan* with a foil sling and grease the foil. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in nuts, if using.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top slightly. Drop 1/3 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, so long as it’s at room temperature) in small dollops over the brownie batter, then run a butter knife through the batter to create swirls. Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 22 to 27 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil, cut into squares, and serve.
*Alternatively, if you a have an awkwardly sized 11 x 7-inch pan like this one, you can use that as well, as I did. The fact that I have one of these and yet no 8-inch square pan is a quandary that can only be attributed to the awesome disparity of wedding gifts.