This past week was pretty eventful due to the fact that Alex and I took care of my mom’s two dogs while she was away on vacation. Lily and Oliver are like my babies and are the cutest pups in the world, but they require a lot of attention. Not having any pets of our own at the moment, mostly because we live in an apartment, we realized just how much work and responsibility goes into taking care of dogs, and by the end of the week, we joked that the dogs were our children because they were all we talked and thought about every day. Even though I barely slept (the dogs are used to sleeping on beds and will give you hell if you don’t oblige), I’m honestly so sad that they’re gone and back at my mom’s. The apartment is so quiet and lonely and I’m counting down the days until we can get a cat (no dogs until we own a house with a yard!).
I don’t know how today’s recipe - peanut butter swirl brownies - is my first one featuring peanut butter, considering I eat the stuff every single day. I got my love for peanut butter from my mom at a young age when I’d see her walking around the house with a spoonful of it as a snack (ahem, dinner). Of course back then, it was all about commercial brand peanut butters like Jif or Skippy, but I’ve grown up since then by upgrading to the natural varieties from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Although these kinds are much healthier for you, using the commercial brands that have the added sugars and whatnot are usually the norm to use when it comes to making peanut butter desserts, and therefore the type of PB I want you to buy for this recipe. This is so we don’t have to worry about the natural oils or lack of sodium/sugar that is found in the natural types of PB.
The only other brownie recipe on my site, my forever go-to chewy and fudgy brownies, is quite different from the jazzed up brownies in today’s post. These peanut butter swirl brownies are anything-but-basic, muuuch thicker, and filled with crunchy peanuts. I am normally not a fan of nuts in my brownies, but I really think the peanuts work well in these because you get double the peanut flavor and a nice added texture. To put it plainly: today’s PB brownies are very decadent, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stop you from having more than one piece at a time.
Looking at the recipe itself, I’m sure you’ll notice how I am also giving metric measurements (grams, milliliters) for the ingredients. When working with something messy like peanut butter, it’s so much easier weighing it out in a bowl set over a scale than with measuring cups which can be a pain to clean. Furthermore, I’ve made the recipe both ways, and although the consistency of the batters were a bit different, I could barely notice a difference after they came out of the oven. So if you can weigh your ingredients, certainly do it, and if not, don’t worry about it.
I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend! Alex and I are going to our first Cinespia screening of the year at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (aka my favorite summer activity to do) and I cannot wait! The movie we’re seeing is Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window so it should be a pretty mixed crowd. I’m very excited to be sipping on a cocktail and snacking on these brownies, while surrounded by other cinephiles come Sunday.
Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
For the peanut butter batter:
3/4 cup (190 grams) smooth peanut butter
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
A good pinch of coarse sea salt
For the brownie batter:
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
3 oz. (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate (like this one), roughly chopped
1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. espresso powder (optional but recommended - it helps intensify the chocolate flavor)
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) chopped toasted peanuts
1/4 cup (40 grams) chocolate chips, semisweet or bitter
Flaky sea salt or confectioners’ sugar, to finish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 8in. square baking pan with parchment paper and then grease the pan (bottom and sides) with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
Make the peanut butter batter: In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until well combined and smooth.
Make the brownie batter: In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together. Do this in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each time, being careful not to burn the mixture. Once melted, transfer the mixture into a large bowl. To this, add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Then add the vanilla extract, espresso powder (if using) and salt. Whisk until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the all-purpose flour until no dry ingredients remain. Stir in the chopped peanuts.
Pour a thin layer (about a 1/3 of the batter) of the brownie batter into the baking dish and spread evenly. Take the peanut butter batter and drop big spoonfuls of it in a random fashion over the thin layer of brownie batter. Use the rest of the brownie batter and fill in the spaces between the peanut butter batter so that it looks like image #2 above. Using a butterknife or wooden skewer, start to swirl the brownie and peanut butter batters together. Don’t worry if you don’t get perfect swirls, the flavor will still be there. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.
Pop the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out fairly clean (a few crumbs are okay). Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and/or confectioners’ sugar. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting - this makes it much easier and gives you cleaner pieces.